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How to Show Accomplishments on Your Resume

Measure, summarize and give examples of your work

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If you're not getting results from your resume, it could be more than a poor job market. You've had years of experience and a stellar job record. So why don't employers look at your resume and want to hire you on the spot?

See also: Looking for a work-at-home job?

The answer may lie in one word: accomplishments. The key to writing accomplishments is to focus on results. Your resume can be loaded with details about your previous jobs, but without compelling accomplishments, it will blend in with hundreds like it.

What Is an Accomplishment?

Accomplishments (also called achievements) are different from abilities, duties, or strengths. Abilities are what you can do, duties are what you have done, and strengths are what you do well. Accomplishments show:

  • The specific actions you have taken in a particular situation
  • The skills and abilities you used to meet a challenge
  • The results or outcomes you achieved

The following example is a job responsibility, not an accomplishment: "Wrote grant proposals to numerous funding sources to support program."

To turn this into an accomplishment, show the results and benefits: "Wrote three successful grant applications to private foundations, resulting in funding to serve an additional 100 clients."

Write Down Your Accomplishments

Before you start writing your resume, draw up a list of accomplishments. You won't use the same ones in every resume, so have some in reserve for different types of positions. Don't forget that your volunteer work and education can also be counted as accomplishments—as long as they are related to the job you want.

To jog your memory about your accomplishments, ask yourself these questions:

Have I:

  • Accomplished more with the same or fewer resources? (How? Results?)
  • Received awards, special recognition, etc. (What? Why?)
  • Increased efficiency? (How? Results?)
  • Accomplished something for the first time? (What? Results?)
  • Prepared original papers, reports, and articles? (What? Why important?)
  • Managed a work group, a department? (Who? How many? Results?)
  • Managed a budget? (How much? Result?)
  • Identified problems others didn’t see? (What? Results?)
  • Developed a new system or procedure? (What? Result?)
  • Been promoted or upgraded? (When? Why important?)

Summarize Your Accomplishments

Try the Challenge-Action-Results (CAR) approach. For each accomplishment, write down the answers to the following questions:

  • The Challenge: What was the pre-existing problem, need, or situation?
  • The Actions: What did you do about it? Be specific. You can also include any obstacles you overcame, and the skills you demonstrated.
  • The Results: What results did you produce? Quantify the results (use numbers!).

After answering the questions above, summarize your answers in an accomplishment statement to include in your resume.

Next: Learn how to easily measure your accomplishments. >>

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