Many of my clients reach out to me with more than resume writing uncertainty. Low confidence and an inability to see the unique value they offer to employers are two major obstacles I help my clients navigate and overcome. The strategy I find most effective is using their resume as a platform for showcasing achievements.
I start off by asking, “What are some of your top achievements?” in which case many of my clients start scratching their heads. Often this conversation diverges into a series of various questions that focus on translating typical tasks into value-added contributions and achievements.
If you’re struggling to recognize the value you offer to employers and conveying that on your resume, these are some of the questions you should contemplate to add more achievements to your resume.
For most companies, the top organizational goal is to be profitable. While your role may not be a direct influence on sales or overall revenue, you as an employee contribute toward this goal to some degree.
Depending on your level of responsibility, you may not have been given access to specific figures. You can always estimate (and indicate that it is an estimate) or give a range. For example, you can indicate that you have increased sales up to $300K or saved the company $8M+ rather than using exact figures.
For this reason, you should start by answering these questions when reflecting on your experiences:
Did you increase sales? If so, by how much and how?
Did you save the company money? If so, how much and how?
Did you handle or manage money? If so, how much and how?
Were you responsible for a budget? If so, how much and how?
ACTION WORDS TO USE: Generated, Accelerated, Maximized, Amplified, Saved, Slashed, Eliminated, Controlled, Allocated, Owned, Developed, Oversaw
Many fields such as technical support, healthcare, and hospitality are customer-focused. If your role requires you to work directly with people, having service-related achievements on your resume may help you stand out from others with less interpersonal relations experience.
Service-related achievements will showcase your customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills. Even the most technical fields may require you to have some relational skills, and providing examples of how you have served others can help you portray these skills.
Start by answering these questions to identify your service-related achievements:
How many people did you assist on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, and how did you assist them?
How many new customers did you secure or how many customers did you retain, and how did you do it?
Did you improve customer service ratings? If so, by how much and how?
Were you recognized formally or informally for resolving a problem? If so, what resulted and how did you do it?
ACTION WORDS TO USE: Aided, Recommended, Accommodated, Won, Acquired, Restored, Revived, Maintained, Enhanced, Boosted, Resolved, Settled
When dollars and percentages are difficult to impact, process-related achievements can be just as impactful. Often office administration roles have more opportunities to improve efficiency and accuracy than bottom-line figures.
Employers love to see their employees take an interest in how well they do their jobs. Including examples in your resume that showcase you taking the initiative to improve processes or procedures can position you as a more valuable asset than another candidate who sticks to their typical daily tasks.
These questions will help you consider the process-related achievements you may have:
Have you improved efficiency or accuracy by creating a new process/procedure or streamlining an existing process/procedure? If so, by how much and how?
Have you created or improved any standard operating procedures, manuals, training materials, etc? If so, how?
Have you made your job easier by using new tools or software? If so, by how much and which tools?
Have you recommended changes that were implemented in the workplace? If so, what were they and what were the positive impacts?
ACTION WORDS TO USE: Introduced, Pioneered, Established, Streamlined, Upgraded, Revised, Created, Designed, Implemented, Leveraged
You don’t have to be a Certified PMP to manage projects. Projects come in all shapes and sizes, and your contributions can help achieve important organizational or departmental goals.
Often projects are still in progress. Instead of getting stuck on completed achievements, you can showcase the goals that you are working towards. You can also describe projects as leadership experiences if you are responsible for any planning, execution, or monitoring tasks.
Consider these questions regarding projects that you’ve led or contributed to:
What was the goal of the project? Did you achieve that goal, and how?
Did the project finish on time? If so, how did your contributions help achieve this?
Did the project finish under budget? If so, by how much and how did your contributions help achieve this?
Which notable milestones did you contribute to achieving?
ACTION WORDS TO USE: Orchestrated, Coordinated, Planned, Executed, Fulfilled, Met, Exceeded, Reinforced, Championed, Regulated
Leadership achievements are often overlooked when you don’t hold a leadership title. Whether you lead a particular project or an entire department, your resume should reflect the advancing responsibilities you hold regardless of your role.
While organizational leaders may focus on showcasing the financial achievements or organizational goals they have met, you should highlight even the smallest achievements gained under your leadership.
Start with these questions when reflecting on your leadership experiences:
Have you been assigned progressively advancing responsibilities? If so, which responsibilities and within what time frame?
How many people reported to you or did you hire, supervise, or train?
Have you mentored any subordinates? If so, how many and in what areas?
Have you influenced any major organizational changes? If so, what were they and how?
ACTION WORDS TO USE: Directed, Led, Spearheaded, Operated, Guided, Mentored, Authorized, Delegated, Assigned, Steered
Quantifying Your Achievements
Employers generally love measurable achievements. Even if you can’t add specific figures to your achievements, give your achievements context by quantifying what you can. This is what will separate you from the candidates with what appears to be similar skills and experience.
What exactly does quantifying your achievements mean? When quantifying your achievements, consider:
How many people were involved or impacted?
Within what time frame was this achieved?
Create results-oriented statements that start with a strong action word and highlight your achievements.