If you’re like most people, your resume lists what you were responsible for at each job you held, but doesn’t explain what you actually achieved there. Rewriting it to focus on accomplishments will make it way more effective (i.e., “increased email subscribers by 20% in six months” instead of “managed email list”), because that explains how you performed, not just what your job duties were.
However, most people really struggle with how to do this. And it’s especially tricky in jobs that don’t lend themselves to numerically quantitative achievements.
Here’s an example taken from the comments section on a recent post about resumes. Commenter Eden asked:
What constitutes an achievement, in this context?
I was the person the entire staff looked for to get on the phone or interact in person with any disgruntled client. I was also the person chosen most frequently by doctors to relay complex medical information to clients of all backgrounds.
Skill in dealing with irate, irrational people is not something I was born with, so acquiring it was very much ‘trial by fire.’ I’m proud of it—I made loyal clients out of people with gripes—but don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.
Another communications example: I was the person all the doctors and our practice manager came to for writing or editing of client correspondence or exam notes, or to write newsletters, or web content. Writing and editing was very much not what my position title entailed.
So are these achievements? Of course, I have references (boss, practice manager, clients) who would verify this, but to my ears these sound like hanging medals on myself that are hard to quantify.
They’re absolutely achievements. They speak to what you got done that someone else in your role might not have, and they speak to what kind of employee you are. The trick is just turning them into resume-friendly bullet points.
* Built reputation for working successfully with previously unhappy clients
* Became go-to staff member for relaying complicated medical information to patients of diverse backgrounds
* Sought out by doctor and practice manager to write and edit client correspondence, exam notes, and web content
See? Now the person reading your resume knows a hell of a lot more about what kind of worker you are than if you just listed job duties.