Think of your resume as a piece of high-end real estate, where every pixel counts. You can triple the value of your resume real estate by stating your experience as achievements instead of boring “responsible-for” job descriptions.
In the one or two lines it would take to describe a task you performed, you can, instead, talk about an accomplishment that resulted when you performed that task.
For example, contract negotiator Pearl Hancock wrote on her resume: "Successfully met strategic licensing agreements within timeframe and budget," instead of a job description such as "Oversaw completion of strategic licensing agreements."
A job description says only what you did. An achievement statement says:
What you did
That you're good at performing that task, and
That you're proud of the skills you used and enjoy using them.
That's triple the value for the same experience.
To figure out what achievements are appropriate for your resume, ask yourself the following questions:
How does my potential employer define success for the job I'm applying for? How do I measure up?
For example: Juanita Garcia knows that as a real estate appraiser, her success will be determined partially by how well she understands her state’s real estate law. To assure the employer that she excels at this, she wrote this achievement statement: "Developed a five-page guide on state appraising regulations, which became a standard reference at Carlson Real Estate."
What project am I proud of, that also demonstrates I have the skills for my job objective?
For example: When Louis Pulski was looking for a research position, he found a job posting that required candidates to be "skilled at providing accurate and prompt reference service through print and online services." To address this requirement, Louis wrote the following achievement statement: "Performed timely, in-depth searches for print and online information at the request of faculty, students, and the general public."
What is my prospective employer's bottom line (such as funds raised, attendance, retention, or clean data), and when have I shown that I know how to address that bottom line?
For example: Salesman Paul Crome knows that his prospective employer's bottom line is profit. Therefore, he created strong achievement statements such as "Generated over $1 million in new business annually."
What technical or management skills do I have that indicate the level at which I perform?
For example: Knowing that the employer wants a candidate with basic computer skills, Sheila Fromer exceeded the requirement by writing: "Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook; SPSS for Windows, basic HTML coding." Is there any doubt that Sheila's a whiz on the computer?
What problem did I solve, how did I solve it, and what were the results?
For example: On his resume, lawyer Chris Pathens referred to a problem he solved: "Drafted legal notices necessary to merge operations without jeopardizing company's multimillion-dollar distribution."
Need more questions to prompt your achievement resume? Read How to Create an Achievement Resume for further questions and ideas on how to use this information.
Susan Ireland is a professional resume writer with Resume-Now.com and a contributor at Job-Hunt.org, and the author of four job search books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume.
This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on Job-Hunt.org.
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