More than just a list of jobs and degrees, a resume is also a marketing tool. The purpose of this marketing tool is to get an invitation for an interview. How do you ensure that your resume does that? You must focus on your notable professional achievements, and you must do so quickly and succinctly.
When compiling your list, you may not know which achievements to put on a resume, or you may not know how to best present your achievements in a way that’s easy for a potential employer to digest. Check out the advice below on how to best organize achievements for a resume (and consider perusing some resume examples for insight, too).
What Is an Achievement?
You may think that you don’t have all that many achievements to put on your resume, let alone those that qualify as anything that’s worth listing. However, this is rarely the case, especially once you have an understanding of what may be considered an achievement. In short, a resume-worthy achievement is one that can be quantified.
As the old management adage goes, what gets measured gets done, and managers are interested in measurable results. Don’t merely state that you achieved an accomplishment. Measurable results are specific and non-biased, whereas merely saying you accomplished something is highly subjective. Look at the difference between the below examples of achievements for a resume. Which achievements do you think conveys a stronger message?
Consistently achieved high-quality assurance ratings.
Consistently achieve high-quality assurance ratings of more than 93% over a 24-month period.
Reduced quarterly budget.
Reduced quarterly budget by 10% while increasing productivity by 6% each quarter.
Increased overall sales and online conversion.
Increased revenue by a CAGR of 6% per year. Achieved online conversion rate of 62%.
Identifying Your Achievements
If you’re not sure how to start listing achievements for a resume, do a little brainstorming. Get a piece of paper and set a timer for about five minutes and write down anything that comes to mind, regardless of how insignificant you think it is. Don’t worry about wording; you can work on the phrasing later.
To help determine your resume-worthy achievements, answer these questions:
What professional accolades have I received?
What am I most proud of at my most recent or current job?
What promotions have I earned? What special projects have I been on?
What positive feedback have I received from past managers?
What to Delete
Far too many job seekers fall into the trap of wasting precious space on their resumes with tasks. No one cares about the tasks you performed at your job. Tasks are tedious, and all employers recognize that all jobs carry a component of tedium. Remove anything from your resume which begins “Responsible for.”
Educational achievements should only be listed if you’re a fairly recent graduate, or if the achievement carries weight beyond the world of academia, such as being a Rhodes Scholar. And for the love of reason, please, please stop saying that you are proficient in Microsoft Office! At this point in world history, that’s akin to saying you know how to use pens and pencils. (Do know, however, that if Microsoft Office is listed as a required skill in the job ad, you should note your proficiency with Microsoft Office in the Skills section of your resume.)
Your resume is not static, and it should be updated regularly. As you garner more achievements, you may need to omit some of your other achievements, at least the ones not relevant to the position you are hoping to secure. Highlight a few of the achievements listed on your resume in your cover letter to catch the eye a busy employer. Remember that you only have 14 seconds to hook someone with your resume, so make sure that your achievements stand out, and that your keywords are maximized.
Be sure to check out LiveCareer’s Resume Builder for additional guidance on crafting your resume, and more tips about what you should and shouldn’t include.