Business Writing Tip #200—Action Verbs to Use in Job Applications (3)

Business Writing Tip #200—Action Verbs to Use in Job Applications (3)

My final post in this series of action verbs to use in job applications follows on from the  last two posts. In past posts I covered communication, management, finance, research, training, and technical skills. In this post we’ll look at words you can use to describe creative, helping and administrative skills.Dreamjob sign

Creative Skills

  • conceptualise
  • create
  • design
  • develop
  • found
  • illustrate
  • shape
  • revitalise
  • introduce
  • plan
  • integrate
  • fashion
  • institute
  • perform
  • originate
  • innovate
  • direct
  • establish

Helping Skills

  • assist
  • assess
  • diagnose
  • clarify
  • refer
  • rehabilitate
  • expedite
  • coach
  • facilitate
  • counsel
  • diagnose
  • guide
  • educate

Administrative Skills

  • approve
  • dispatch
  • operate
  • retrieve
  • arrange
  • execute
  • screen
  • catalogue
  • prepare
  • generate
  • implement
  • classify
  • collect
  • inspect
  • process
  • tabulate
  • purchase
  • inspect
  • monitor
  • record
  • validate
  • specify
  • generate


Business Writing Tip #199—Action Verbs to Use in Job Applications (2)

As promised in my last post, here are some more useful action verbs for job applications. In this post I’m covering research, training and technical skills.job app image

Research Skills

  • clarify
  • critique
  • diagnose
  • extract
  • identify
  • inspect
  • interpret
  • review
  • summarise
  • survey

Training Skills

  • adapt
  • advise
  • clarify
  • coach
  • communicate
  • coordinate
  • develop
  • enable
  • encourage
  • evaluate
  • explain
  • facilitate
  • guide
  • inform
  • instruct
  • persuade

Technical skills

  • assemble
  • build
  • calculate
  • compute
  • design
  • devise
  • engineer
  • fabricate
  • maintain
  • operate
  • overhaul
  • program
  • repair
  • solve
  • train
  • upgrade

Business Writing Tip #198—Action Verbs to Use in Job Applications (Part 1)

Sometimes it can be tough to think of verbs to use in your CV, cover letter or in a statement addressing selection criteria for a job. To help you out, I’ve put together a list to help you describe some of the things you do at work. These words are also useful if you are writing position documentation (job descriptions, position profiles, duty statements, selection criteria and the like).CV image

In this post I’ve included verbs for communication, management and finance. I will cover some other categories in the next post.

Communication Skills

  • arbitrate
  • arrange
  • author
  • correspond
  • direct
  • draft
  • edit
  • influence
  • interpret
  • lecture
  • mediate
  • moderate
  • negotiate
  • persuade
  • publicise
  • reconcile
  • translate
  • write

Management Skills

  • administer
  • analyse
  • assign
  • chair
  • conduct
  • consolidate
  • contract
  • coordinate
  • delegate
  • develop
  • direct
  • evaluate
  • execute
  • improve
  • increase
  • organise
  • oversee
  • plan
  • prioritise
  • produce
  • recommend
  • review
  • schedule
  • strengthen
  • supervise

Financial Skills

  • administer
  • allocate
  • analyse
  • appraise
  • audit
  • balance
  • budget
  • calculate
  • compute
  • develop
  • forecast
  • manage
  • plan
  • project
  • research





Business Writing Tip #190—Use Positive Language


Your choice of words will influence how your reader feels about you, and the organisation you are representing in your business writing.

Compare:new STOP

You have left me with no option but to reject your proposal because you can’t conduct the training personally.


I will be happy to accept your proposal if you agree to conduct the training personally.

Which one would you prefer to receive?

Some words and phrases in English can trigger negative reactions. They don’t always. It depends on who is reading them, and how they are feeling at the time. Sometimes it’s best just to avoid using them to avoid a negative response to your words. English is a rich language and there’s sure to be a way to say something positively.

Here’s a list of words and phrases to use carefully, or not at all.

  • Absolutely
  • Disaster
  • Not
  • Unacceptable
  • Failed
  • Obviously
  • With prejudice
  • Can’t
  • Horrified
  • Never
  • Without exception
  • Completely
  • Immediately
  • Demand
  • Neglected
  • Shocked


Business Writing Tip #178—Plurals of Compound Nouns

I’ve been researching this topic trying to find some definitive answers, but not had much luck. In this post I’ll tell you a bit about compound nouns, giving you some plurals that are commonly used in business writing (and maybe one or two that aren’t if they are unusual). If you need one that isn’t here, I’d say check it in an up-to-date dictionary, or using Google or another search engine!

What is a compound noun?

A compound noun consists of two or more words which are used together as one. They can be joined together, hyphenated or separated by a space. They are formed in different ways.

  1. Two nounsairpoet

E.g. airport, cash register, bookcase

  1. An adjective plus a noun

E.g. half-truth, real estate, special delivery, freeway

  1. A noun with a descriptive phrase

E.g. editor in chief, board of directors, point of view

  1. A noun formed from two words which aren’t nouns

E.g. drive-in, get together

Now to plurals.

Compound nouns written as one word

When compound nouns are written as one word, the last element is changed following the normal rules. Airport becomes airports, bookcase becomes bookcases, freeway goes to freeways, and grandchild becomes grandchildren.

Compound nouns written with spaces or hyphens

  1. If the compound noun is formed by two nouns with a space between them, pluralise the second.

Carbon copy becomes carbon copies, money order becomes money orders and the plural of coffee break is coffee breaks.

  1. When the compound noun is made up of a noun and another part of speech or a phrase, we need to change the main element to its plural.

The plural of letter of credit is letters of credit. And you may have multiple sisters-in-law (not sister-in-laws)

  1. When the compound is made up of two non-nouns.

For these, you pluralise the final element. So drive-ins, hang ups, and get togethers.

Why you need to check

Just to be completely confusing we have attorneys-general and governors-general, but brigadier generals.

I’m going to keep researching this topic and if I can find some useful rules I’ll share them. But don’t hold your breath. I’ve been trying for a while already.

Happy writing.


A bit about the image. It’s by artist Richard Tipping

(Airpoet2003 ink; plastic screenprint, printed in blue ink, from one stencil
Impression: undesignated impression as issued
Edition: edition of 300; edition of 7 as a boxed set August 2005
printed image 7.3 h x 9.8 w cm
Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund, 2008
Accession No: NGA 2008.154.25
© Richard Tipping)

Business Writing Tips #163—Linking Words for Reports: Quick Reference

I’ve written about linking words in tips before but I thought it was worth revisiting a few of the most useful ones. No matter what kind of report you are writing, you need to tie your ideas together.

The phrases you need to:chain and leaves

Introduce a new topic

Regarding, with reference to, in relation to

Add a related point

Moreover, furthermore, in addition

Show a consequence

So, therefore, as a result, for this reason

Give an example

E.g., such as, for example, for instance, in particular, especially, above all

Explain by rephrasing

In other words, i.e.

State the real situation

In fact, actually, as a matter of fact


Firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally

First, second, third

The first stage/step is . . ., then . . . , and after that . . .

Make a general point

In general, on the whole, in most cases

Add an unexpected, or surprising, idea

However, even so, nevertheless

Make a contrast

In contrast, on the other hand, whereas, while

State known information

Of course, obviously, clearly


In conclusion, on balance, overall, taking everything into consideration


You can use most of the examples in the above list at the beginning of a sentence. Sometimes they are followed by a comma. Read your sentences aloud and think about where you would pause.

  • In general there are three major points to consider.
  • However, there are also some minor points which we should not ignore.

Many of them can be used in the middle of a sentence after the word ‘and’:

. . ., and in fact . . .

. . . , and on balance . . .

A few of these phrases are used immediately after a comma. These include: especially, such as, and whereas.

  • There is the issue of staffing, especially given that whatever we decide there will be an impact on jobs.
  • We currently have a team of five, whereas if we introduce the xyz equipment we will only need a team of three to run it.

Happy writing.

Business Writing Tip #116—Direct and Indirect Writing Styles

There are times when we are comfortable asking for something in a direct style, and times when we want to soften our requests or comments. We use indirect language more when we want to be formal, or polite; perhaps when we don’t know someone very well. Or sometimes we use it to deliver bad news!more flowers in Letna 

What are the differences? Here are some suggestions (adapted from Paul Emmerson’s Email English).

Language functionDirectIndirect
RequestsCan you ...?Could you …?
Please could you …I was wondering if you could …
Could you possibly …?
Asking for permissionCan I …?Is it all right if I …?
Could I …? I wonder if I could …?
Offering helpCan I …?Would you like me to …?
Shall I …? Do you need any help with …?
Making a suggestionWhat about … (+ -ing)?Why don't we …?
Shall we …?Perhaps we should …?
Softening commentsThere is a problem.I'm afraid there is a small problem.
It seems there is a slight problem.
That will be very expensive.That might be quite expensive.
Won't that be a bit expensive?
That won't be cheap, will it?
We can't do that.I'm not sure we can do that.
That gives us very little time.Actually, that doesn't give us much time.
It will be better to ask [person's name].Wouldn't it be better to ask [person's name]?
I disagree.I can see what you're saying, but …
Don't you think that …?
To be honest, I think it might be better to …
I think there may be an issue here.

Business Writing Tip #110—Language to Use in Emails

In emails we use less formal language than we use in business letters. We know that we are busy, and we are fairly certain the business people we are writing to are busy too. So we keep our language clear, simple, direct. In emails it is fine to use contractions (I’m for I am, etc.) and we use more personal language.

When we are emailing friends our language is even more informal. We write in a way that is close to how we would talk to them.

Here is a list of different ways that you can say things in emails, both formal and neutral/formal (adapted from Email English by Paul Emmerson).

What do you need?Please let us know your requirements.
Thanks for the email of 12 Feb.Thank you for your email received 12 February.
Sorry, I can't make it.I am afraid I will not be able to attend.
I'm sorry to tell you that ...We regret to advise you that ...
I promise ...I can assure you that ...
Could you ...?I was wondering if you could ...
You haven't ...We note from our records that you have not ....
Don't forget ...We would like to remind you that ...
I need to ...It is necessary for me to ...
Shall I ...? Would you like me to ...?
But.../Also.../So...However .../In addition .../Therefore ...
Please could you ...I would be grateful if you could ...
I'm sorry for ...Please accept our apologies for ...
Re ...With regard to ... (With reference to ...)
See you next week.I look forward to meeting you next week.

Now you have some words to use; but what about how to structure the email? I was at a conference yesterday where one of the speakers, Rachel Appleby, recited a poem that she uses to help people:

Something old,

Something new,

What to do,

I love you.

Now of course we don’t write ‘I love you’ in our business emails, but this serves to remind us to include a warm closing greeting, such as ‘Kind regards’.

So we might write to a colleague (informal style):


Thanks for the email you sent me yesterday about the missing stock. (Something old.) I’ve looked into it and am happy to tell you that we’ve found it and will forward it to you. You should get it tomorrow. (Something new.)

Please let me know if it doesn’t arrive. (What to do.)

Sorry about the hassle.

Kind regards, (I love you)



If we’re writing to a customer it might be:

Dear Ms Johnson,

Thank you for your email of 14 March about your order not having arrived. (Old.) We have checked our records and have discovered that, unfortunately, it missed the cut-off for that day’s delivery. We immediately dispatched the package and it should arrive by tomorrow. (New.)

Please contact me if it does not arrive (What to do.) and I will arrange for a replacement to be sent to you by courier.

I apologise for the inconvenience.

Best regards, (I love you.)

David Ambrose

Delivery Executive, XYZ Company.

Ph: 555 237 8054


Business Writing Tip #100—Signposts

You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned signposts a couple of times. Just as it is useful to have signposts to show us the way when we’re travelling, signposts show our readers the way with our writing.signpost syria

We can divide signposting language into two broad categories:

  1. Major signposts that signal key aspects of the work, such as purpose, structure, the author’s stance, main points, direction of the argument, conclusions.
  2. Linking words and phrases that show connections between sentences and paragraphs.

Here are some lists of signpost words.

Linking words

  • The aim of this study/report is to …
  • The purpose of this thesis is to …
  • This essay argues that …
  • The main questions addressed in this paper are …
  • This essay critically examines …
  • The above discussion raises some interesting questions.
  • This paper begins by … It will then go on to … Finally, …
  • This chapter reviews the literature …
  • In conclusion, …

Words to connect ideas

Try these words or phrases when you want to:

Give an example Add a thoughtEmphasise a thought
For example
For instance
In fact
That is
In other words
In particular
First, second, third, and so on
As well
A further factor to consider
In addition
What’s more
In this way
In fact
As a matter of fact
As you can see
Give credit to another point of view Sum up a series of ideasMention items in chronological order
Even though
Of course
To be sure
In short
In brief
To sum up
In summary
First, second, third, and so on
Since then
Show cause and effectCompare items or ideasContrast items or ideas
As a result
Just as
In the same way
On the other hand
On the contrary
In contrast
Mention items in order of degreeUse a spatial orderGive a reason
Most importantly
In addition
First, second, third, and so on
Next to
In front of
To the right
To the left
In between
For this reason
Because of
Due to
Reformulate an idea
In other words
To put it simply
That is
To paraphrase

Business Writing Tip #95—Describing the Steps of a Procedure

Often at work we have to write instructions. It might be handover instructions for a new staff member, or perhaps things you need your colleagues to do while you’re enjoying a well-earned holiday. Either way, you need to write out the details of what you want people to do in a way that is clear and easy to follow. Here are some tips and useful vocabulary you can use.IMG_0388

Use active voice

Send an email to Jennifer Coen inviting her to speak at the annual meeting.

Organise board meeting for March 2014.

Check my voicemail each day.

When writing instructions, use sequence words when it’s important for things to be done in order

First, agree on a date for the March 2014 meeting with the boss.

Next, check availability of board room and book board room.

Then contact board members for agenda items.

Or you can use numbering

  1. Agree on a date for the March 2014 meeting with the boss.
  2. Check availability of board room and book board room.
  3. Contact board members for agenda items.

Useful Vocabulary for Writing a Narrative

For those things that are first

Firstly …

The first step is …

First of all …

The first stage is …

To begin with …

… begins with …

Initially …

… commences with …

If something has to happen before something else

Beforehand …

Before this …

Previously …

Prior to this …

Earlier …

And if things need to happen at the same time

At the same time …

During …

Simultaneously …

When this happens …

While …

For those things that come next

Secondly, Thirdly etc., …

After this …

Next …

The next step is …

Then …

In the next stage …

Subsequently …

In the following stage …

Later …

Following this …

As soon as _______ has finished its work …

Then, for the things that come right at the end

Eventually …

… until …

Lastly …

… finishes with …

Finally …

… concludes with …

In the last stage …

The last step is …