Most people we talk to significantly underestimate their career achievements in previous roles. As a culture, Australians are modest – we’re taught not to boast from a young age. We do our jobs and do them well, but often don’t think of our day to day role in the context of achieving. However, if you want your resume to get noticed, you need to show value by articulating your achievements well.
In today’s highly competitive job market, recruiters look for achievements. They are most interested in what you did for a company you previously worked for, how well you did it, and the areas where you excelled over and above your day to day ‘duties’. That’s why your resume needs to clearly highlight these achievements so recruiters are keen to talk to you further.
So what can be considered as achievements and how can you identify them? Many people we talk to say “I don’t have any achievements”. Everybody has them, but you need to think about your previous roles and responsibilities in a different way. On your resume, achievements provide evidence of how you contributed to your employer’s success. The most convincing achievements are or course measurable or quantifiable. Things like growth, sales, quality, reductions, gains, customer acquisition/retention etc. (and quantified with measurable benefits that include numbers, percentages, dollars, time etc.).
However, achievements don’t necessarily have to be quantified. This is the most common argument we hear – the fact that a candidate can’t actually articulate an achievement that is quantifiable. Actually, there are various ways to identify accomplishments and they don’t have to be quantified. Sit down and brain storm how you have helped your employer to succeed – in any small way. Think about any task or responsibility you undertake which has an outcome and write them down. In addition, ask yourself the following questions to help other ideas flow:
- Did you receive any promotions? Especially after a short period – e.g. ‘promoted to Sales Manager after just six months in the Sales Associate role’.
- Did you receive praise? A pat on the back from your manager or some feedback or a commendation from a customer. Think about recognition you received – for completing projects ahead of schedule, handling an irate customer, suggesting a new / faster way of completing a task, saving money etc.
- Did you feel particularly good about something? Anything you did that made you feel proud could be considered an achievement. Did you complete or participate in a particularly challenging project? Where you able to turn around a situation with a customer that was previously causing concern? Did you fix or improve a process? Are you known within your department or company for anything in particular? Have you developed considerable knowledge about a particular area so that you’re now considered the ‘go to’ expert?
- Were you selected for a project? Being selected to participate as a member of a project team, committee or task force is an achievement – no matter how small your role. Focus on the reason why – your knowledge of an area, your specific skills etc.
- Have you worked with any high profile companies? Can you drop any big company names – e.g. ‘provided consistently high levels of service and support for global industry leaders including XYZ company and ABC company’.
- Have you made suggestions that were implemented? Even if you weren’t solely responsible for implementing a suggestion, coming up with the idea in the first place could be considered an achievement. This would apply to areas where you may have been able to improve the way something has done, reduce time taken, increase productivity, achieve a better outcome etc.
- Are you highly accurate? Completing processes for a long period error free or meeting deadlines in an environment that is error prone or susceptible to missed deadlines could be considered an achievement.
Once you have some ideas, turn them into high impact statements – always leading with the benefit that your employer gained. Start your statement using words like improved, increased, transformed, changed, altered, assisted, reorganised, overhauled, developed, built, established etc. If you’re still stuck, ask your manager or colleagues what value you offer and make sure to review your previous performance reports for ideas. The main thing to remember is not to take your achievements for granted – potential employers always see past success as an indicator for future performance so it’s one of the most important areas to get right.
Are you finding it difficult to articulate your achievements? Do you need help brainstorming some ideas that will impress recruiters? If so, our Professional Resume Writers can help! Please see our Resume & CV Writing Services for more information.