We do a lot of resumes here at The Interview Doctor.
That means we see a lot of awful resumes. Most times resumes list responsibilities. But a really good resume goes beyond responsibilities to demonstrate through accomplishments what you can really do.
Accomplishments are major successes you have had. Accomplishments are usually quantifiable or measurable. Accomplishments show a specific result, while duties just describe the details of the job descriptions. They are action oriented.
Responsibilities or duties are passive while accomplishments are active.
What is more appealing to a reader? Active or passive? An active description of accomplishments hops off the page in a way that a bland job description does not.
“List resumes” are based on job descriptions which are boring lists of duties. Everyone knows that sales people must sell a certain amount of widgets. But unless you tell them, no one knows that you achieved 104% of your sales goal. A reader cannot ignore such a big deal accomplishment. We want you to have an action oriented resume, not a list resume.
What is more useful: description or action? What is more compelling: describing the scenery or telling a story? What has more energy?
Try this experiment:
- Write down the facts about your last job. What kinds of words do you use? A description of responsibilities? What could someone learn about you? I bet this description is pretty flat. Just the facts, ma’am.
- Then write down what you accomplished in your last job. Include some facts and statistics about how your actions made a difference. How is this description different from the facts in the first example?
Accomplishments make the reader curious about how you did that, which separates you from the rest of the list resumes and just plain awful resumes!
Let’s look at how to convert your duties into accomplishments. These duties are taken from a real resume:
Accountability to drive sales/margin plan in alignment with business goals
Comment: Of course a manager is responsible for this duty. This statement doesn’t really mean anything.
Facilitate pricing decisions with oversight from Managers and Regional Managers
Comment: Of course. Yes, we all know that a sales person facilitates pricing decisions. So what?
Responsibility for monthly turnover analysis
Comment: No one cares. What does this mean?
If we put careful thought into those experiences, it is possible to convert those duties into accomplishments that more fully describe the results you achieved in the past, results you could bring to a new company. Take a look:
Led team to achieve 123% of sales goal; Increased margin by 2 basis points by controlling inventory, labor costs, and increasing prices
Comment: By pulling out some actual results, the statement takes on an active voice. It makes the reader wonder, “How did he do that?”In this way, the statement attracts attention the way the other statement did not.
Implemented pricing program resulting in 3 basis point increase in margin by offering market pricing on commodity products and increasing pricing on specialty products
Comment: The revised statement shows an active result – an accomplishment. It makes the reader ask, “How did she do that?”
Reduced turnover by 20% by improving local management leadership skills
Comment: The revision shows actual results which makes the reader curious
Now you try it!
Highlight at least one or two accomplishments that reflect well on your ideal job for each position you have held in the past. If you are a student, what accomplishments can you point to in classes or activities during school? How about during summer work or internships?
Pick accomplishments that reflect well on you in your pursuit of a particular position.
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