Have you ever been in a job interview that you think is going well until suddenly the hiring manager asks this alarming question?
“Your resume tells me what you’ve done. But what have you accomplished?”
You might be rendered speechless, but the hiring manager has a point.
Your accomplishments reflect how effectively you will be able to reach goals in the new company as a result of your job duties.
This interview question comes up for a few reasons:
- Resumes often look like basic job descriptions.
- Explaining accomplishments is not as easy as it sounds.
- Most online job applications usually ask for your “duties” or “responsibilities” so you naturally list them in your resume.
Don't be discouraged, though.
If your resume offers a comprehensive list of your job duties, you're halfway there!
Now what you need to do is transform those responsibilities into an impressive list of accomplishments.
Read on to find out how to describe accomplishments on a resume.
1. Understand the Need for Evidence
Imagine that you worked for several years as a corporate director for a global company, so you add the following statement to your resume:
Managed a global team of people.
What you are describing above is a straightforward job duty.
But it really says nothing about what you accomplished.
Instead, try showing numbers and results.
This is your evidence of success:
Achieved greater than $50M in sales for three years running while managing a global team of 300 employees.
Hiring managers already know what the position's duties are.
What they want to see is how your job duties and the skills you added to your resume led to numbers that offer evidence of success.
2. Compile a List of Questions for Yourself
Be proactive and ask yourself the tough questions interviewers want to know.
You know you have to show evidence, so interrogate yourself.
Take out your current resume and ask yourself these questions for each job position you have listed:
- What problems did I solve?
- Why was I really great at my job?
- How did I stand out in my last job?
- How much money did I save the company?
- Do I have any awards or accolades I am proud of?
- Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?
- What did I do to go above and beyond the job duties?
- What new processes did I implement that lead to improvement?
- When and why was I recognized by a supervisor for a job well done?
Yes, I know these are a lot of questions ... but don't just glance past them and keep reading. And if that's what you did, go back and read them again!
Now, take the time to note your responses to each of these questions.
Go into detail as much as possible; this provides proof of real accomplishment.
In other words, the more details you add, the better!
3. Illustrate Your Evidence With Numbers
But don't stop with just the basic answers to the above questions. (Yes, you have more work to do.)
Take the answers to your questions and add in as many numbers and facts as you can.
Ask yourself a few more questions:
- How many people were impacted by your work?
- What dollar amounts were you responsible for?
- By what percentage or dollar amount did you exceed your goals?
- What was the percentage or dollar amount of increased sales or decreased costs?
Do not just say:
I effectively managed a budget.
Show the numbers to explain how much money you saved:
Monitored expenses and implemented cost containment initiatives, achieving 2% budgetary savings for the fiscal year of 2015, the lowest in the statewide industry.
You are quantifying your accomplishments, making them easier to understand, and illustrating the level of responsibility required to achieve accomplishments.
This is exactly what the hiring manager is hoping to see.
Taking the time to add these facts and figures to your resume will help your application stand out among the other candidates.
4. Show Evidence of the Added Benefit of “You”
Show this new company how much you benefited your last company and boss.
Communicate to the employer why you're the best person for the job.
After all, they need to know what you can do for them!
Let them know your approach to work by stating how you communicated at your last job.
Try a bullet point like this on your resume:
Prepared detailed weekly presentations of team status reports in a timely manner to ensure client satisfaction.
This communicates to the hiring manager that, if you are hired, you will work to provide great service to both staff and clients.
Offer tangible evidence of your work.
This will surely demonstrate why you would be a great asset to this company.
Why Accomplishments Matter
A resume full of accomplishments shows you know how to execute, not just “do something" to bring in a paycheck without really having a passion for it.
It’s the best way to show an employer you mean business, how you will be of value to others, and why working together will be mutually beneficial!
You already know that some industries are more competitive than others.
Likewise, some positions will be more highly coveted than other job positions.
Regardless of the industry or the position you are seeking, if you want to be noticed among other job candidates, you'll want to showcase specific accomplishments rather than list vague duties.
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Job searching is hard enough as it is. The last thing you want to do is risk being passed up for your dream job because of an inferior resume.
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