Recruiters and career experts say you should fill your resume with a list of accomplishments, not just the tasks you were paid to do.
In other words, how can you turn a task into an achievement?
Should you come up with an achievement for every task you had for each job? Or is it better to include a summary of accomplishments?
This article will answer those questions, and help you write achievements in your resume that showcase your professional experience, so you can stand out in your job search. I'll also share some great resume templates for highlighting your achievements. You'll also find easy to edit resume templates here.
Listing Duties on a Resume vs Writing a Summary of Accomplishments
First, you've got to understand the difference between what’s considered a duty and what qualifies as an achievement.
A duty or task tells the recruiter what you did. Tasks vary from one job to another, it could be as simple as “answer customer inquiries via email” or it might need a bit more explanation, such as “Clean up and maintain bookkeeping records using Xero and QuickBooks.”
Whatever the task is, it only tells what you can do. A results-oriented resume bullet point, or achievement, shows how well you did it.
In customer service, an achievement might read like “Answer 150 emails a day and reduced monthly customer turnover by 7%”
When you apply for a job, every other resume will have virtually the same skills, but the significant job-related accomplishments on your application will help the recruiter remember you.
Should You Write the Whole Resume Job Description as Work Accomplishments?
The short answer is no. Not all skills and tasks are worth including in your resume for two reasons.
- Your resume has limited space
- Some skills are obviously associated with the job that there’s no need to mention it
Does this mean that you don’t need to bother writing up these tasks as achievements on your resume?
Not really. This is where reviewing the job advertisement comes in handy.
You need to know which tasks or skills the employer prioritizes, so you can then write about what you achieved performing said tasks. I’ll go into details on that later.
Turn Job Duties Into Amazing Accomplishments for Your Resume
You now know how to differentiate between the already-expected duties and the work accomplishments recruiters are looking for in your resume.
Let’s move on to the next step in the process, transforming your resume job description bullets into a list of accomplishments for your resume.
1. Brainstorm Previous Accomplishments
Rack your brains for previous accomplishments from your current and previous jobs.
Don’t bother trying to make these achievements sound pretty or concise, as these won’t be used in your resume yet. Right now, you’re just jogging your memory to list as many accomplishments as possible. Ask yourself these questions for every job on your career history:
- Did my boss or company ever give me recognition for a specific task or project? Why? When?
- Did I exceed or consistently meet a goal set before me?
- Did my boss or co-workers ever praise me for completing a project ahead of time, or below budget?
- Did I solve a problem for our team? What was the result and who benefitted from it?
- Did I ever do something that was above my call of duty? How did it impact my team or our customers?
- Did I win an award or certificate?
- Did I create or improve a process that helped us save money, time or other resources?
- Were any of my tasks helpful in increasing the company’s revenue? By how much did I increase it?
- Was I promoted to a new position?
- Was I ever chosen to lead a project? Why? What were the results of this project?
- Which of my tasks can be quantified or measured? If I were to compare my performance on a six-month or one-year period, were there any improvements in my productivity or results?
- Did I train or supervise someone?
If some of the key accomplishments listed here were done with the help of a team, feel free to include it. Your team’s success is part of your professional experience, so that counts for something.
Still struggling to get some ideas? Ask your co-workers and boss about when and how you've helped them in the past.
By now you should have a long list of work accomplishments from all your jobs. Don’t worry, you don’t need to put them all on your resume.
Think of this as a master list of accomplishments for your resume that you'll use—and continually add on to—as you grow in your career and change jobs.
2. Choose Accomplishments to Include Based on the Job Description
Let’s say you’re an “IT Lead.” The job title in itself is vague, and the skills required for it vary from one industry to another. If you send a resume to all vacancies with that job title, it’s likely that you won’t have the specific experience and skills required for many of them.
That’s why your resume should be tailored for the job you’re targeting.
Read through the job ad and analyze the skills, professional experience, and characteristics they’re looking for in candidates. Highlight those skills so you don’t forget them.
Now look at the list of accomplishments for your resume you’ve compiled in step one. Do any of these match the items you highlighted in the job ad?
For instance, the underlined phrases on the IT Site Lead job posted below shows the important skills and experience this specific employer wants.
If you want your application to convey that you’re a good fit for this position, the work accomplishments on your resume should be related to the duties listed in this job ad.
‘Minimizing down time’ and ‘negotiate with vendors’, for example, are two requirements. If you had an experience where you minimized down time of a previous employer’s system or you managed to cut costs on vendor contracts, both of those count as an accomplishment worth including on your resume.
3. Quantify Your Work
“Effectively increased sales”
“Decreased customer complaints through polite and friendly customer service”
These statements read like work accomplishments. But it’s still hard for employers to picture how well you increased sales or reduced complaints.
Because those job accomplishment examples don’t explain the impact you made.
It’s easier to paint a clear picture of your accomplishments if you quantify them. By adding numbers, percentages, or statistics, you give the recruiter a way to visualize how your work affected the company.
Example: “Increased sales by 18% using a follow-up email sequence for abandoned carts”
Sales, marketing, customer service, and duties related to money and operations are easy to quantify with numbers. Admin, creative, IT, and other non-customer facing roles are harder to quantify because the tasks aren’t tied to a metric or have a direct impact to the company’s bottom line.
Try the creative strategies below to quantify your tasks.
1. Give an Estimate or Range
Is there no data on how well your order-processing task affected your department? Ask your co-workers or managers to give an estimate of how your duty impacts the team.
Example: “Minimize projected returns by 8% by ensuring all order forms are correctly processed”
The word “projected” indicates that the 8% result you’re claiming isn’t 100% accurate, but at least it gives the employer an idea of what you can do.
2. Ask “How many?” When Quantifying Soft Skills
Time-management, organization, and communication skills are supposedly hard to quantify or prove on a resume. But if you ask yourself “how much” you managed or organized, you might find a way to quantify your tasks so you can write a results-oriented resume.
Job Accomplishment Examples:
Manage the calendar of Executive Vice President to ensure his monthly travels are booked, and appointments with six department heads are scheduled.
Send invites and organize RSVP of 250 invitees and 18 sponsors for annual charity event
There are so many ways to describe the impact of your duties with numbers. If you’re still not sure how to do this for your tasks, ask yourself the following questions:
- How many people did you supervise or train?
- How many projects do you assist with or complete on a monthly basis?
- What's the average number of tickets or orders you process on a weekly or monthly basis?
- What's the average turn-around time for your projects?
- What's the biggest project you ever held? How much was it and how many people were involved?
- How many designs can you complete per week?
- How many people read the articles you publish?
- What was your budget for organizing events?
- How many shares or likes do your videos get?
4. Write Resume Accomplishment Statements with the PAR Method
Writing effective accomplishment-driven bullets point for your resume takes practice. Sometimes, quantifying the results makes your bullet point longer than needed, other times it’s still not clear what you did or how you did it.
You can avoid problems like this by using the Problem – Action – Result (PAR) template for your list of accomplishments for your resume.
First, think of a problem you solved as part of doing your expected responsibilities at work. Then write about what you did to solve that issue (Action) and what happened after you implemented it (Results.)
Problem: Low sales performance for new employees
Action: Develop new-hire training program focused on sales and account management
Result: Increased sales from new hires from 3% to 12%
If you put the three statements together as is, you’ll have all the elements you need to impress a recruiter, but the bullet point will be too long for a resume.
Make it concise by focusing on the key elements for each point and re-arranging them as necessary.
In the revised example, the bullet point starts with the ‘Result’ part of the formula.
“Increased sales from 3% to 12% after creating a sales and account management on-boarding program for new hires”
Different Accomplishments to Put on a Resume for Different Job Titles
By now you should have a better idea of how to turn your job’s duties and responsibilities into key accomplishments for your resume.
The five resume accomplishments examples below will give you an idea of how certain tasks are transformed into accomplishments for different jobs.
1. Customer Service Work Accomplishments
- Resolve an average of 45 complaints weekly, resulting in 15% increase in customer satisfaction and 7% decrease in supervisor-escalated requests
- Increased average order value of new sales staff by at least $45 after training them in up-sell and cross-sell techniques
2. Accomplishment for the Resume of Sales and Marketing Professionals
- Wrote a lead-magnet e-book that resulted in 600 email leads after 2 months
- Increased conversion rate of new users from free to paid subscription after implementation of new-user onboarding sequence and follow-up email sequence.
- Implemented a guerilla marketing campaign that combined user-generated content and pop-up stores to generate over $18,000 in sales for a t-shirt line.
3. Resume Accomplishment Statements for Information Technology Applicants
- Saved 15% on negotiated new contract for offshore cloud service
- Completed the migration of online product-training programs into new LMS three weeks ahead of schedule
4. Work Accomplishments for Candidates with Administrative Work Experience
- Wrote and send employee satisfaction survey that resulted in 75% response rate
- Improved claims-approval procedure to 3x car insurance claims processed every month
5. Work Accomplishment Examples Finance Job Applicants
- Balanced annual operations budget of $1.8M and increased tax savings by at least $120,000 last year
- Reduced paperwork required for all accounting procedures by 85% by converting all transactions and requests into digital forms
Learn More About Making a Great Resume
Writing about your accomplishments isn’t all there is to creating a great resume. You still need to write about your skills, keep your resume on point, and use the right keywords.
Be sure to check out How to Create a Great Resume (Ultimate Guide). These tutorials will also help you:
- ResumesWhat to Include on a Great Resume (Complete Guidelines for 2019)Charley Mendoza
- ResumesHow to Make Your Resume Fit on One Single Page (15 Quick Tips)Charley Mendoza
- ResumesHow to Structure Your Resume to Use in 2019 (Organize it Right)Laura Spencer
- ResumesHow to Effectively List Professional Skills on Your ResumeCharley Mendoza
If you want to create a great looking resume but don’t want to create one from scratch, you can find some easy-to-edit resume templates here:
- Resumes50+ Professional Resume & CV TemplatesGrace Fussell
- Resumes35 Creative (Dynamic) Resume CV Templates: For Professional Jobs in 2020Sean Hodge
- Resumes39+ Professional MS Word Resume Templates (Simple CV Design Formats 2020)Marc Schenker
- Resumes29+ Best Contemporary (New Styles) Resume CV Templates (For 2020)Andrew Childress
Write About Your Accomplishments Not Your Tasks
Someone once told me that you can’t expect to get a pay raise doing the tasks your manager already expects you to do. This applies to the job search as well.
Almost everyone vying for the job you applied for will have the same skills. Some applicants might be even more qualified and experienced, so take the time to include a list of accomplishments in your resume. It'll set you apart better than a laundry list of job responsibilities.
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