by Nina Scott
Why are accomplishment statements important on a resume?
Accomplishment statements are the “meat and potatoes” of a resume, or, put another way, your achievements are the “special sauce” which could help you to stand out.
Without accomplishment statements that clearly show the magnitude and scope of abilities, a resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) can appear very ordinary, boring, or even suggest there may not be enough motivation to excel in ways that matter.
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer (C.P.R.W) and Career Coach, I usually find this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Often, candidates have great achievements and motivation to excel, but their successes are obscured from view unintentionally.
Why do some have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements?
There are several reasons candidates might have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements.
- Many don’t realize the importance of being their own career historian, and tracking their achievements along the way
- They are not fully aware of the skillsets they have, which are relevant to the direction they wish to navigate their career toward They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did. Upon probing further, sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
- They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did. Upon probing further, sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
- The perception is they haven’t been in a situation where they were able to have an opportunity to shine
- Important documents are not saved for reference, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, testimonials, reviews, or other accolades
- They just don’t know how to approach articulating or writing impactful statements, and so they avoid it
Do any of the above reasons sound familiar to you? Accurate achievements with impact can always be uncovered, even when there is a termination in the work history.
Most people have accomplishments, but they don’t always realize it, or they unknowingly think it’s enough to simply list their duties.
How about you? Have you invested your time into really thinking about your accomplishments?
If you are like most people, it is not easy to come up with your own achievements, but it is important to take the time and initiative to do.
Contrary to what many believe, introspection, integrity, research, organization, and thought is what needs to precede a series of good accomplishment statements on a resume. Pensively and well written accomplishment statements are one important key element which can dramatically help your resume or CV to potentially deliver engagement from prospective Employers, Human Resource Staffing Specialists, and Recruiters. On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, potential clients may need to consider your background before selecting your product or service.
Here are my 10 tips for how to add pizazz to your accomplishment statements, and significantly improve your resume or curriculum vitae’s impact.
1) Do your homework and research currently valued skillsets and industry challenges which will help you to recognize your relevant achievements.
Identify with what you learn about your target industry or occupation, and compare it with your own relevant experience, while looking for commonalities.
Arrange to talk with others in your goal occupation at networking events, but be prepared to reciprocate to anyone who may assist you, and offer to see how you might help them. Also, don’t be shy to ask how you can genuinely support those who aren’t in a position to supply the information you seek, just be sure to reserve plenty of time for your job search. Sincere acts of professional support are not only a kind gesture, but doing so can naturally result in enabling others to view you as a professional of value to be connected with over time.
In order to become in the know, both in-person and online networking is critical. If you are computer proficient with social media, it’s highly recommended you follow online discussions that regularly have members posting about the current issues as well as trends in your target profession.
2) If you don’t have computer skills, take the time and initiative to learn.
Look for free or low cost resources at your local library, career one stop center, or visit the Goodwill Community Foundation International site for self-paced online training. Don’t allow yourself to get lost on the wrong side of the digital divide with unmarketable computer skillsets! Technology permeates many professions now, even the application process itself is riddled with it.
This point is critical. If you find you are limited in computer proficiency, and want to create and distribute your resume yourself, think about this: How can you type your accomplishment statements onto your resume document, if you are not familiar with how to use the software programs and hardware which can create it? How can you apply online for jobs, or email your resume as an attachment, if you don’t know how to navigate via online digital correspondence platforms? Anyone, at any age can learn how to do this, if they have access, motivation, patience, and perserverance. Take the time to learn, and be patient with yourself in the process.
3) Another free online resource where you can check the trends of a profession is with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Online Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Here you can find how to break into a targeted occupation, tasks, trends, and more.
4) Keep a notebook handy for accurately documenting your accomplishments.
If transitioning between jobs, keep it readily available near your computer or where you spend the most time. Being your own career historian is crucial so you can show how you shine, throughout the timeline, of your career and education. Make annotations in your notebook whenever you intentionally realize an accomplishment or happen upon it in thought.
Having an accomplishments notebook is also a handy tool to provide to a Certified Professional Resume Writer, who is an expert at taking many other important factors into consideration when creating a resume or other career document. A Certified Professional Resume Writer is generally fluent with helping you to discover your accomplishment highlights, and knows how to selectively market your achievements.
5) If a good rapport exists with a prior employer, ask for their input and perspective on your accomplishments.
If the employer is willing, request they write a letter of recommendation which would help to support the accomplishments stated.
6) Be sure to track numbers, frequencies, increasing and decreasing percentages, dollar amounts, as well as timeframes that made a difference as a direct result of your efforts.
If applicable, integrate how the accomplishment was achieved into the statement. Here are a few examples with different combinations of measurements from a variety of occupations.
- Led team of four in creating a 20 ft. tall Periactoid on wheels over 2 week duration
- Inspected a total of 4,089 miles incorporating 3 roadway resurfacing projects in a 13 month period
- Wrote Sales Training and Procedures Handbooks with a combined page total in excess of 100 pages, for distribution to approximately 200 employees
- Increased department sales of diabetic medical devices by 75% in a 6 month period, and was featured in company newsletter
7) Remember even a small hourly or daily achievement average can be multiplied to estimate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual accomplishments.
Example: “I process 12 client intakes per day”. Doesn’t sound like much right?
But when you multiply 12 intakes per day, by 5 days per week, that’s 60 intakes per week, even better! Similarly, you can figure out monthly, quarterly, and yearly figures in this manner. In the example discussed, that translates to 240 per month, 720 per quarter, and 2880 per year. Wow!
8) Write down any unique challenges you experienced on a project, and consider the context, as well as how you overcame it.
There may have been external factors making a particular aspect of a job difficult.
As an example, one of my clients directed an infrastructure project in which there were international government stakeholders based out of 3 countries.
The challenge was she needed to avoid costly miscommunications, which she was very successful at accomplishing, so it became important to show in her resume how she was able to do that. Here is a statement designed to consider the unique context of her situation, and how it was managed.
- Project evolved smoothly as a result of strategic planning, consistent dialogue (always confirmed in writing), frequent visits to construction plants in other territories to bridge cultural gap as well as operational development, and weekly progress meetings
No matter what level of professional you are or the type of occupation(s) you have had, it is possible for unique challenges to exist. Be sure to think about if such unique challenges existed when writing your resume or working with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.
9) Keep in mind the big picture and your percentage of contribution to a team’s bottom line, whatever that might be in your industry.
Here are three examples of accomplishment statements which magnify impact of contribution.
- Created a risk management procedures matrix for categorizing project rankings and factors causing an estimated savings of over $90K, which was subsequently allocated to two additional projects
- Carried 60% of department’s case management load, and identified over $100K in eligible services for improving the lives of community members attempting to contribute to their families and society.
- Secured $30K in media sponsorship resulting in global audience viewership of 3,000 and approximately $52K in revenue
10) Above all, don’t give up!
Stay focused and look inside yourself for the value you surely offer to prospective employers. Become clear on your past as well as current contributions.
© By Nina Scott, C.P.R.W.
Nina Scott is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach.