How to best represent an accomplishment on your resume

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 20

Resumes help you get the interview. Not the job. Just the interview. An important thing to get, of course! When a human is looking at your resume to make the decision to interview or not, the key question that needs answering is this: Will this person help the hiring manager reach his or her business goals? If the person reading your resume thinks the answer is yes, you get the interview. If not, you won’t get the interview.

So how do you represent that you can do the work and help the hiring manager reach business goals?

By showing your accomplishments on your resume.

So what’s an accomplishment? Ah…there’s the rub. What most people put on their resume are their duties performed on the job. That’s what gets a resume thrown into the (digital) trash bin.

But throw in a string of accomplishments? That shows you can not only do the work, but you have done the work and have accomplishments to show for it.

Let’s figure out how to best show your accomplishments on your resume.

What is an accomplishment?

First things first. An accomplishment is something that you did that favorably impacted a business outcome. You increased revenue. You decreased expense. You shrunk cycle time. You delivered a new product. You beat service objectives to customers. Those are accomplishments.

So how do you frame them on your resume?

Provide the business benefit of what you did

Right up front, state whether your accomplishment increased revenue, decreased expense, etc. as described above. That tells the person the direction this accomplishment is going.

Provide context

Provide context about the accomplishment so the person reading the accomplishment can relate it to their own scope. Saying that you project managed a 10,000+ hour project across three continents is a lot different than saying you project managed implementing single video conference systems into a customer’s business.

If you work in a company of 20,000 people, a 10,000+ hour project is an awesome way of saying you can manage enterprise level projects. If the person reading the resume works in a 1,000 person company, the 10,000 hour project is way over the requirements for the job (so they should have put something like that in the job description – but, they never do….).

Context helps the person reading the resume relate to the work you do. It also gives the interviewer a good insight and triggers for good questions to get asked during the interview.

Numbers quantify the accomplishment

Saying that you saved money isn’t enough. How much money did you save? How many dollars/euros/yen did you save? What percentage of the budget? Both are useful parameters to use.

How much time did you drop off the cycle time? One day? One hour? Sometimes an hour is a big deal, so don’t necessarily discount it just because it doesn’t seem like much.

Use numbers. They make a world of difference to getting the interview or not. Which means you should be tracking your numbers, right? Right?

Use action verbs

Accomplishments are NOT passive. They are active. Delivered, created, shipped, decreased, increased, decommissioned are all active verbs. Start your accomplishment with using action verbs to help validate the accomplishment.

Delivered a 4-point actionable system for demonstrating accomplishments on a resume resulting in a 30% increased interview rate compared to the baseline system.

That’s an accomplishment.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.