Tips for Including Accomplishments on a Resume

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One of the most common mistakes made by job candidates is to construct a resume that simply lists what they have done in previous jobs without pointing to their impact. 

Your resume should not read like a set of job descriptions that convey only what your responsibilities were in past jobs. Instead, the focus should be on how you added value in your roles and made a difference to your department and organization.

It’s important to show what you have accomplished in your resume, rather than a list of tasks. Your resume should communicate how you have been an asset to the past organizations with whom you have been affiliated.

Here are tips for incorporating accomplishments into your resume. Follow the process for each of the jobs you’ve held so you can highlight what you have achieved in each position on your resume.

Step 1: How Was Success Measured?

Identify the bottom line for each of the departments or functional units where you worked. Ask yourself how one would measure the success of those units. 

For example, a recruiting department might be measured by whether or not it sourced the right talent. An accounting department might be graded by how clean their audits were. A purchasing department might be rated by the money it saved. A restaurant might be measured by the number of repeat customers or the quality of their online reviews.

Step 2: How Did You Impact Success?

Itemize how your role was connected to the bottom line in each of your experiences. For example, a recruiter might note that she was responsible for selecting the best feeder schools for entry-level candidates. A purchasing agent might have evaluated the best vendors for computer hardware. A waiter might focus on the quality of service which he provided to restaurant patrons. 

Identify and document any baseline indicators related to the bottom lines for your departments at the time you took on your roles. For example, as an accountant, how many audit findings were there for your area of responsibility prior to your assuming that role? As a recruiter, what was the average cost per hire prior to your arrival? As a production manager, what was the average downtime for the assembly line before you took over that role?

Step 3: Quantify Your Accomplishments

Estimate the level of change that you helped to engineer in your role and quantify it if possible. For example, you might state that reduced negative audit findings by 50%. Perhaps you cut travel expenses in your department by 20% or reduced staff turnover by 25%. 

Step 4: Qualify Your Accomplishments

If the change can't easily be expressed in quantitative terms, use qualitative language that appropriately points to the magnitude of change. For example, you could say:

  • Significantly enhanced morale.
  • Resolved customer complaints much more quickly.
  • Greatly reduced staff turnover.
  • Increased response time significantly.

Step 5: Include Action Words

Utilize action words that imply an accomplishment or some results that you have produced. For example, begin your statements with words like increased, decreased, reduced, enhanced, upgraded, initiated, created, reorganized, eliminated, instituted, established, accelerated, advanced, initiated, surpassed and persuaded.

Accomplishment statements will be more convincing if you include references to how you generated the results. Point to the skills or strategies you employed to achieve each success.

For example:

  • Improved staff productivity by establishing incentives for reaching volume goals.
  • Increased the percentage of positive customer reviews by installing a system that tracked comments by employee.
  • Evaluated alternatives for payroll vendors and selected a new partner resulting in savings of 15%. 

How to Add Value to Your Resume

Accomplishments don't need to be monumental in order to have value on your resume. Think of how you have made things better in even a minor way. For example, a human resources clerk might say "Recommended changes for processing new applications that reduced response time to candidates." A retail salesperson might say "Repositioned product displays to move dated merchandise."

Another way to validate an accomplishment is to cite recognition by a supervisor, employer, customer or another stakeholder.  For example, a server might say "Selected as employee of the month based on outstanding customer service." 

A Human Resources professional might say "Promoted to Assistant Director of Human Resources based on successful recruitment of graduates for IT jobs." A supervisor might say "Recognized during performance review for enhancing staff morale.”