Stating Your Accomplishments
Accomplishments demonstrate that you have the ability to produce positive results and achieve success. They give potential employers the confidence to know that you will be successful in the position. Review your entire career and develop a complete list of your most significant career achievements. An accomplishment can be any task you performed that benefited a previous employer. At their best, accomplishment statements are direct and to the point, contain measurable information, and emphasize a positive result.
Demonstrate Your Ability to Achieve Results
Employers seek candidates that can prove they have the ability to achieve results and add value to an organization. When you provide specific, impressive statements about how your achievements have produced a positive result with previous employers (through convincing Action-Benefit Statements™), you validate your qualifications for the position and hiring managers will be more inclined to ask you to an interview.
How to Write Action-Benefit Statements™
An Action-Benefit Statement™ is a strong and clear description of an action you took, which resulted in a tangible, measurable benefit to your organization. Action-Benefit Statements demonstrate how your abilities and experience have made a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Action-Benefit Statements consist of:
Action: A specific action that you took when faced with a situation, problem
Benefit: The positive result or benefit to the organization, such as an increase in
Consider the following example, “Analyzed declining sales and developed a campaign to increase orders by 30% in less than one month.” This statement describes the situation or challenge you faced (declining sales), the Action you took (developed a campaign), and the Benefit of your actions (a 30% increase in orders). Always Quantify or Qualify accomplishments and achievements described in your Action-Benefit Statement.
When you are “quantifying” results, consider the impact of your work in measurable terms and include the numbers, percents, dollars, values and other measurements of success that represent your experience in the best possible light:
Good: Supervised a large staff of retail employees covering multiple territories. Effectively managed business unit P&L and consistently grew profits.
Better: Ten years experience managing 15 employees across multiple territories on the East coast. Effectively managed P&L of $10 million business unit. Consistently generated 30%-35% gross profit.
Alternatively, when you are “qualifying” accomplishments, consider describing the process, depicting the environment and including the personal characteristics that a future employer would consider valuable in that role:
Good: Increased sales through cold-calling, follow-up and account management.
Better: Consistently grew revenue and profits in a rapidly changing environment through aggressive cold-calling, persistent follow-up, and relationship-focused account management.
· Focus on the benefits of your actions, instead of the actions themselves. Save the specific details on how you achieved your success for the interview. Some employers may even invite you for an interview just to learn how you were able to produce such results.
· Add comparative information that puts your accomplishments into prospective. “Increased sales by 50% in market that declined by 10%” is more impressive than it would be in a growing market. Potential employers want to see how you performed relative to other candidates in your field or relative to the category or market in general.
· If you have worked with especially reputable firms, interacted with renowned clients, managed noteworthy projects, or reported directly to well-known industry leaders, then certainly refer to these people, companies and projects by name in your resume.
· Describe accomplishments with phrases that begin with powerful Action Verbs, such as Designed, Negotiated, Managed, or Implemented. These words make strong, clear statements about your performance.
· When writing about job responsibilities, try rewording tired, boring phrases that describe dull job duties such as “Responsible for …” and “Assisted with …” Instead, choose action-oriented beginnings such as “Directed…” and “Coordinated the efforts of…” Always consider the results of your work. How did you have a positive impact on the company?
Good: Designed electronic equipment.
Better: Prepared complete, precise, accurate designs of precision electronic equipment using the latest CAD/CAM software, which resulted in a 25% reduction in overall design flaws.
Communicating Skills, Job Responsibilities, and Accomplishments
Employers want to have confidence you will be successful in the position before hiring you. When reviewing your resume, often, they are asking the following questions: Do you possess the necessary skills to perform the required work? Have you had similar responsibilities or performed comparable work in previous positions? Do you have a demonstrated record of achieving results and the capability to make a positive impact in your role?
Ask yourself what kind of person the company needs and what the employer would hope to see in a qualified applicant. Review as many advertisements of your job target as possible and discuss the requirements of a typical position with hiring managers beforehand to ensure that your resume effectively demonstrates these abilities.
Your skills are the essence of your qualifications and encompass your abilities, capabilities, acquired knowledge, and personal characteristics. Including relevant skills demonstrates to prospective employers that you have the tools needed to perform well in the job. Use concrete examples of how you used skills to solve problems or create opportunities and emphasize those skills that are the most relevant to the job for which you are applying.
Insider Tip: Consider emphasizing the skills you possess that you enjoy using and downplay those capabilities you would prefer not to use again in the future.
Your Job Responsibilities
Your job responsibilities are the tasks you have performed using your skills and they tell a prospective employer that you have carried out the functions of the job before. Describe the tasks you performed, the products or projects you were involved with, the responsibilities you were given, the interaction you had with co-workers and the roles you played. Give the employer an idea of what you did on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Insider Tip: Many inexperienced job seekers limit their resume to listing only the job duties performed at each job. However, employers are looking for evidence that you can apply your skills and abilities in ways that add value to the company. The best way to demonstrate your skills and job responsibilities is through action-oriented accomplishment and achievement statements.
Accomplishments demonstrate how you have used your skills and abilities to achieve success and produce positive results. An accomplishment can be any task you performed that provided a tangible benefit for the company. The best accomplishment statements describe how you added value by increasing efficiency, saving time, saving money, or contributing to the bottom line. Accomplishments should be succinct, measurable and results-oriented Action-Benefit Statements that demonstrate your success. Use concrete examples, situations and stories about your accomplishments and how you have achieved results.
Insider Tip: As you prepare to develop your list of significant accomplishments, consider browsing ResumeMaker’s sample resumes to review example accomplishments. It takes some time and careful reflection to create a thorough list of your impressive achievements.
Identifying Your Accomplishments
The following questions will help you identify your most impressive achievements. When answering each question, think about challenges you have faced, how you overcame those challenges, and the positive result of your actions.
Questions for Accomplishments
· How have you increased revenues or reduced costs? Have you increased productivity or improved profits? Have you ever increased the quality or value of a product or service?
· What did you design, initiate, create, or manage successfully? Make these statements more exciting by including the benefit your work provided.
· What situations did you face that required a resolution? How did you resolve a specific crisis or overcome a particular challenge? What was the impact on the organization?
· What daily tasks or routine activities did you perform? What skills did you use effectively in previous jobs? Consider including tasks that seem obvious or mundane by turning them into Action-Benefit Statements.
· Were you ever promoted? Did you ever receive special recognition, honors or awards? What distinguishes you from your co-workers?
· Have you ever made recommendations to your previous employer that were implemented? Have you ever been responsible for the creation of new policies or procedures? Have you done anything to make a process more efficient?
· Were you ever responsible for training or advising a new employee on certain procedures or programs? Did previous co-workers ever ask for your advice or opinion on a certain subject?
· What were you constantly praised for by previous managers in past performance evaluations? For each job you’ve held, can you list five contributions of which you were most proud?
· What did you value in each job? What about your previous position was rewarding or gratifying? What were the best moments in each job?
· What are your greatest strengths or personal characteristics? What is it about your dedication, style of work, or attention to detail that adds value to an organization?
Additionally, consider asking yourself questions about your personal and educational background. This is especially important if you are changing careers or are a recent graduate. What are the most significant accomplishments and achievements of your career? Have you ever received an award, certificate or commendation from any group? Are you a community leader involved in a local or school organization? Have you received an academic award or merit scholarship? Remember to include only that subject matter which supports your candidacy for the position and shows you are focused on and committed to your career.
Choosing a Persuasive Writing Style
As with the rest of your resume, your Experience section should be written using a commanding, professional tone. Streamline phrases by eliminating personal pronouns (I, me, we) and removing articles (the, a, an). Use an active voice that presents your qualifications strongly and confidently.
Compose authoritative statements about your Experience and Accomplishments, beginning with compelling Action Verbs that illustrate a decisive action on your part, followed by a positive benefit to the company. Some of the most compelling action verbs are listed below; however, refer to ResumeMaker’s Action Words for a more comprehensive list:
Sample Action Words
Directed • Launched • Reduced • Created • Reorganized • Managed • Oversaw • Secured • Designed • Constructed • Implemented • Reported to • Negotiated • Maximized • Developed • Established • Led • Increased • Organized • Improved • Analyzed • Identified • Demonstrated • Researched
Listing your Accomplishments
List your accomplishments in order of relevance to your prospective employer, placing your most impressive accomplishment at the top. A general rule of thumb is to list 5 to 7 of your most impressive accomplishments relevant to your job target, unless you absolutely need more to cover the requirements of the position. If you have additional accomplishments, bring them up in your interview or list them under the Experience section of your resume.
Insider Tip: List your accomplishments using bullets. It is generally easier for a prospective employer to read and pick out important information when it is presented in bulleted format.
Defining Types of Accomplishments
When defining your accomplishments, consider different types.
One type of accomplishment is the successful maintenance of a system or environment. Your accomplishment could be analyzing incoming information and making adjustments to keep things running smoothly. There are not clear beginning and end points, and success is measured over a period of time.
Anther type of accomplishment is one where you are given a specific task or project, which you analyze, and then complete or solve to a successful conclusion. These accomplishments have clear beginning and end points and contain measurable results.
Spend some time thinking about different types of accomplishments. Remember, in the most basic sense, an accomplishment is an action that has produced a positive and tangible benefit.
Gathering the Information
As an exercise to gather your career achievements, review your former jobs and roles and responsibilities within each position. Ask yourself what tasks you performed. What did you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Now think about the challenges you faced while performing these duties. Accomplishments are often the result of creative solutions to unique or ongoing challenges.
Remember to include accomplishments from your early work history or personal life. For career changers or recent graduates, these areas may contain valuable information. Even for seasoned veterans, a thorough review of your past may bring to light some powerful accomplishments that need expression in your resume.