No matter where you want to work, employers want to know only one thing: What can you do for them? Or, more accurately, what can you do for them that a hundred other candidates can’t?
One way to answer that is through your accomplishments. Unlike duties and responsibilities, which tell employers what you did, accomplishments show them how you did your job, and whether you did it well. To grab an employer’s attention the moment they read your accomplishments section, here’s what you’ve got to do.
1. Jot Down Your Work-Related Accomplishments
List all of your accomplishments to begin the process of adding them to your resume. Write down everything — it can be as small as publishing your first blog post, or as big as singlehandedly getting the servers back up after the system went haywire.
Don’t worry about censoring yourself at this point. What’s important is to get it all down, so you won’t have to rack your brain every time you have to tailor a resume for an employer. Also, you’ll have a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses, know where you stand between point A and B, and see how awesome you truly are.
2. Pick the Ones That Suit the Job You Want
Based on the first list, make another list of your best accomplishments. Then, choose the ones that are relevant to the job you’re gunning for.
For example, if you’re a blogger who wants to become a social media specialist, you can highlight your publications with the strongest writing and that attracted the largest amount of traffic. In case you’re not sure about which accomplishments fit the bill, review the job description again, and match your achievements with the requirements.
3. Start With Strong Action Words
Instead of “handled,” “managed” and other words that don’t tell hiring managers anything beyond your job description, use more powerful verbs. Show employers the specifics of what you’ve done through words, such as:
When you choose the right words, employers are more likely to choose you as the right candidate, too.
4. Bring Out the Facts and Numbers
Of course, employers need verifiable proof that you’re not fabricating your accomplishments. If you say you’ve “improved website traffic,” they’ll naturally follow up with questions like “By how much?” Keep those questions in mind when you rewrite your accomplishments, so you’ll write something stronger like “Boosted website traffic by 400 percent.”
5. Put Your Accomplishments in Context
Aside from what you accomplished, employers will also want to know how you achieved what you did. What tools did you use to boost website traffic? Over what period did the boost in traffic happen? How did your achievement help the company?
Going back to the previous example, you can now rewrite it as “Boosted website traffic by 400 percent within one month, leading to a commensurate rise in total company sales of 200 percent.” Looks much more impressive now, doesn’t it?
6. Use Your Potential Employer’s Language
You don’t have to stick with boring business jargon. If the employer uses playful language in their job ad, feel free to do the same. For example, if the ad states that “Anyone without a sense of humor need not apply,” respond with “Lifted team morale and productivity by providing a daily supply of side-splitting jokes” in your accomplishments section.
Not sure if what you’re about to write is appropriate? Feel free to use a clear, clean and concise writing style instead. You can always let your achievements speak for now, and figure out whether you’re a cultural fit for the company later.
7. Don’t Forget Accomplishments Outside of Work
What if your job doesn’t leave much wiggle room for accomplishments? What if your job is the type where achievements can’t be easily quantified? What if you’re more passionate about what you do outside the office than within?
That’s where your non-work achievements come in. While they might not seem relevant to your dream job at first glance, it’s possible you learned something from those achievements nonetheless. Being a social worker, for example, can teach you skills transferable to jobs like customer service. It’s okay to include accomplishments from personal, academic and volunteer work, as long as you emphasize how they make you the best candidate for the position you’re applying for.
8. Edit Ruthlessly
Once you’ve written and rewritten your accomplishments, run them through this checklist:
- Do your accomplishments simply rephrase your job description, or do they go above and beyond it?
- Do your accomplishments meet the employer’s qualifications, and more?
- Are your accomplishments unique to you? Or can anyone else in your position do them?
- Do your accomplishments show what you’ve done differently from, and better than, your predecessor?
- Did you use vigorous words to outline your achievements?
- Did you use facts to back up your claims? If asked about those claims in an interview, can you prove them without batting an eyelash?
- Did you list your accomplishments from most important to least? Although it makes sense to arrange them chronologically 95 percent of the time, you’ll make things easier for a busy recruiter if the achievement you want them to notice is at the top.
- Did you include only the accomplishments relevant to the position? What can you delete that would keep the list short enough not to bore a recruiter, but long enough to impress?
- Is the accomplishments section, as well as the rest of your resume, free from spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors?
If you’re still having doubts about your resume, run it through a friend — preferably someone who specializes in human resources or owns a business. Your friend might notice things you haven’t yet considered.
A Few More Tips
When it comes to accomplishments, and resumes in general, the most important thing is to show why you’re the best fit for the job. Think like an employer, re-read your resume like an employer, and ask yourself: “Given these accomplishments, will this person be able to go above and beyond average for the job I have in mind?”
If these tips helped you gain a “yes” for that question, let us know in the comments – and don’t forget to share it with your friends and fellow job searchers.
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