If you are job hunting or thinking of changing your career, you have probably been doing some online research to help you write a good resume. Goodness knows, there is plenty of it out there! Some of it is excellent, some of it is garbage, but what you are probably seeing over and over is that you must talk about your accomplishments on your resume.
When I first heard about this concept years ago, I will admit, I was confused. What accomplishments?, I would bemoan in frustration. I mean, I went to work and did the same thing day in and day out, nothing much changed in my daily duties, I didn’t do anything monumental, not even occasionally, so what the hell accomplishments was I supposed to come up with?
I searched online for examples of these revered accomplishments and saw things like:
- Promoted an average 30 titles per year for a niche publishing company.
- Increased employee training participation by 50% by adapting existing curriculum into online education modules.
- Led project coordinating office moves for 55 employees.
- Reduced time spent on inventory by 20% by reorganizing physical storage of supplies.
- Planned lodging and travel logistics for 20 ships per year, with 10 crew members each.
Notice each of these accomplishment statements contains a number. Apparently, numbers are big to whomever is reading your resume. In an accounts-receivable position I held for three years I probably increased revenues for the company I worked for, particularly in my first year there, but by what percentage I have no idea. It is not common for employers to commend non-sales employees for increasing revenues — they would have to give them a raise along with the praise.
The reality is, most of us common folk don’t know how, or how much, we contributed to a company’s bottom line, or increased its productivity, or reduced its time spent on a project, so how do we talk about our accomplishments? I’ll tell you how.
THINK & REMEMBER
Go back in your mind to your previous jobs and think about what you did in each role. Be sure to have a notebook handy to jot down your memories. Really devote some time to this and use this little system to get the memories flowing. Ask yourself:
- What did I do on a daily basis? Write it down as descriptively and with as much detail as you can come up with.
- Why did I do it? Do not answer this question with ‘for the paycheque’. Think of your job description and your role in the company — why did the company need someone to do that job? Why did your role exist?
- What were the outcomes as a result of what I did? For example, I was in Billings. The outcomes of what I did, day in and day out, was money. I sent out the Billings that generated the revenues for the company. Nothing is as important to a company as its revenues, so this is a pretty significant outcome.
- Now, think about and remember how you did what you did. In my billings position I used specialized company software to enter data from field tickets, that first, I scrutinized for thoroughness and accuracy. I worked closely with field personnel to clarify unclear data, and I referred to service contracts to verify compliance because field personnel didn’t necessarily know what they could and should bill. This is how you need to think and remember — in detail! Do not overlook little things you may think insignificant. Nothing you did was insignificant.
- What computer programs and/or software did you use? What equipment? What tools? What resources? I couldn’t have produced the company’s Billings without using the specialized software I mentioned. Nor could I have done a thorough job without communicating with the guys in the field, and if I didn’t refer to the contract, I might have missed something that should have been billed, and the company would then have lost out on revenues.
These are little things we sometimes overlook when we think about how we did our jobs in previous roles. But if you think of all the things you did, no matter how seemingly insignificant or automatic, and write them down in detail, you will come up with some very impressive accomplishments!
It will be well worth the time investment to ask yourself these questions and think deeply about the answers. They won’t all come to you at once. It’s a process, and you’ll be surprised how things will come back to you. You’ll be really surprised when the floodgates open and you can’t scribble fast enough to keep up with your memories!
To give you a quick example of how to describe an accomplishment, I’ll use this terrible little list of job duties:
- prepared invoices using field tickets
- ensured correct information on field tickets with field personnel
- ensured invoices complied with services contract
- employed highly efficient time-management skills to generate 3 million monthly in highly-detailed billings under rigid deadlines in fast-paced accounting department
- meticulously followed tight guidelines to verify field ticket accuracy and conformity to services contracts resulting in recovering an average $5000 monthly
By the way, “Duties” should never appear as a heading on your resume. I used it only to illustrate the difference between duties and accomplishments. And, I really dislike that word ‘ensured’. It is meaningless.
I hope the above example shows you how to transform duties into accomplishments. Use numbers whenever you can, and if you really think about it, you probably can come up with some.
Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.
Thanks for your time today!