Many resumes I receive describe the tasks the job seekers performed at each of their jobs. A more powerful way to discuss your work is to focus on what you accomplished at each job.
Accomplishment-based resumes have been widely accepted for more than 20 years, so many job seekers are using this approach. The resume or LinkedIn profile may still not be persuasive enough for today’s job market. Results have to be emphasized.
Your accomplishment-based resume has to beat the competition for your 2021 campaign to get a job. Achievements should get the hiring team’s attention, generate enough interest for them to keep reading, create the desire for more information, and then spur action.
Our best practices for writing strong accomplishments are as follows:
- Develop a problem, action, result (PAR) analysis,
- Lead each accomplishment bullet-point with results, and
- Quantify your results whenever you can.
Identifying, documenting, and analyzing your accomplishments will benefit your career whether you need a new resume now or not. Annual assessments I’ve seen in the corporate, government, and not-for-profit world usually ask that the employee document accomplishments. Interviewers will give you an opportunity to speak about your accomplishments because they know your job description. Last, but not least, documenting your accomplishments will boost your self-confidence by helping you realize that you have achieved something unique at work.
Accomplishment statements are the heart of your career marketing campaign.
Any career presentation can be built around an analysis of your achievements. An accomplishment statement starts with a strong action verb. Then, it includes the following 3 elements:
- What business problem or opportunity you addressed,
- The action you took to address the problem or opportunity, and
- Your quantifiable results.
We call this the Problem, Action, Result, or PAR, model. You will also see it referred to as the STAR, or situation, task, action result model in some books and websites.
The strongest way to develop PAR statements is to set up a three-column table with Problem, Action, and Result columns, and then write as many problem, action, result examples as you can think of in the rows of your table. You can also write your PAR analysis as a narrative, as I did below prior to writing one of my own resumes several years ago.
Problem: The business problem or opportunity I addressed for a large welfare-to-work program was to create resumes for every work-ready client. Welfare-to-work regulations in New York required that each work-ready client had a resume. Our job developers also needed the resumes to market each job candidate to industry.
Action: I critiqued, edited, or wrote more than 2400 resumes for job candidates over an eight-year period to address this business problem. In addition, I led resume classes, interview prep classes, and computer lab sessions, and consulted with job developers to help our job candidates prepare for employment.
Result: The quantifiable result was that I delivered marketable resumes for all work-ready job-seekers to the job developers. All resumes were added to official files to comply with welfare-to-work rules. Leadership credited me with more than 200 competitive job placements. (Many other clients went on to training, GED programs, or college.)
A career advisor I worked with at the time suggested the following bullet points based on this analysis:
- Worked one-on-one with more than 2400 participants to develop resumes that addressed their individual situations.
- Credited with more than 200 competitive job placements among individuals that attended my workshops, one-on-one resume coaching sessions, and job search computer labs.
These bullet-points, combined with other aspects of my resume, landed a number of interviews, and a one-year assignment at another program placing individuals with barriers to employment. Today, I would rewrite these bullets to start with stronger verbs and place the results up front. Specifically, I would write:
- Delivered resumes for 100% of work-ready clients to job developers doing placements, and to program leadership as required for compliance with federal rules.
- Credited with more than 200 direct job placements through a partnership with the job development team, on-line application coaching, and interview prep classes.
The bullet-points will also serve as your talking points at job interviews. You should be prepared to elaborate on each point. In fact, you may have additional accomplishments that you did not have room to discuss on your resume.
Everyone has accomplishments!
Job seekers often tell me that they do not have any accomplishments. I’ve found that virtually everyone I’ve worked with has accomplishments at their jobs. For example, a custodial maintenance worker I coached was tasked with cleaning a 23,000 foot warehouse each morning. He used mechanical buffers and solvents to solve the problem. The result is that 100% of the warehouse is clean and safe at the start of business each day. So, do not despair if you took a “survival job” or “day job” during the Pandemic while searching for the next great opportunity.
Use strong action verbs.
Start each bullet-point with a strong action verb that describes your results. Often job candidates tell me they “participated in meetings.” This could mean they sat in meetings and took notes, or it could mean they made major presentations. “Prepared verbatim notes to provide minutes for the CEO and leadership team” is stronger than “participated in leadership team meetings.” Google “resume action verbs” for many excellent lists if you get stuck.
Start preparing your accomplishment-based resume.
Accomplishment-based resumes get results because they communicate your unique value to employers. Recruiters and hiring managers will be prompted by resume content to ask about accomplishments you are prepared to discuss. Click here for three examples of accomplishment-based resumes. Then click here to schedule your free consultation where we will address your specific career marketing campaign.