One piece of advice often given to job seekers is to list your accomplishments on your resume. The reason is that your past performance is the best indicator of your future performance. Employers are looking at your past RESULTS or IMPACT to see what kind of results or impact you might produce for them.
This video from the Dr. Phil show is a perfect example of this generic advice.
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The question is: HOW do I write these accomplishments?
Many people I work with say: “I don’t have any accomplishments.” That is completely untrue in every single case. I know it’s untrue even without talking to you simply because you’ve held a job for some length of time. If you have no impact, you get fired. Sometimes sooner and sometimes later, but you will always lose your job if you have no results.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Let’s ask the question “so what?” about every job responsibility you list. Most people are great at listing what they did. So do that, and then ask “so what?” after each one. “So what if I didn’t do this? What difference would it have made?”
Let’s take office management as an example. You might list “ordered supplies and maintained inventory of supplies” as one of your tasks. You ask “so what.” The answer: everyone would order their own supplies, no one would keep track of the supply budget, and probably some people wouldn’t have the tools they needed while others had too many, and it’s a fair bet that spending would have spun out of control, eating into profit. So I would include as an accomplishment “Increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness of supply ordering and inventory, keeping spending below budget while ensuring that staff had proper tools to fulfill responsibilities.” This is an impact you had. It’s all about how you see it.
It can be difficult to see your own impact. Try sitting with a friend and having them ask you the “so what” question about your various responsibilities. Keep asking until you find some connection to the bottom line, the budget, production, time frames, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Here are a few more examples of accomplishment bullets from various resumes I’ve prepared with clients.
- Generated $1.5 million in annual revenue by creating freshman programs in London.
- Streamlined systems to effectively target media and maximize timely distribution of relevant coverage.
- Reduced program audit time from six weeks to one week annually with new tracking system.
- Ensured legal compliance of program operations.
- Increased revenue by 20% by identifying training opportunities and managing performance against metrics.
- Generated 100% increase in dinner traffic by developing Commissary (at resident dining kitchen) for campus-wide “grab and go.”
- Secured significant loans from and liaised with individual and family foundation lenders; brokered and facilitated relationships between borrowers and lenders.
- Created first corporate communication using humor.
- Respond promptly and proactively to all word processing requests, meeting all deadlines.
These are just a few examples using positive terms, impact words, numbers and percentages. I hope they give you some idea of how to write a resume that contains accomplishments!
What about the repeated use of I did this…, I did that…, I…, I… etc..
Should all of the I’s be dropped?
Thanks for the question, David. In a resume, we never use the word “I.” Everything needs to be stated in sentences that begin with a verb – either past tense for things you accomplished in the past or present tense for things you are working on in your current job. Good luck!