How to write accomplishments on your resume
A list of accomplishments can help you impress a hiring manager and score an awesome job.
Many of us underestimate our achievements. We're often told not to boast, that modesty is the best policy. We show up to do our jobs every day and sometimes do great things—isn't that enough?
Well, not if you want your resume to get noticed. Employers look for examples of accomplishments to help them pinpoint achievers, candidates who go above and beyond their job duties. Your resume accomplishments allow you to describe your best wins so employers want to take a chance on you.
If you think you have no career accomplishments, think again. Everybody has them—it’s just a matter of digging down and pinpointing what they are.
What is an accomplishment?
On your resume, an accomplishment can either be an example of how you contributed to your employer, or an achievement that reflects the kind of worker you are. The most convincing accomplishments are measurable.
- A welder relays dedication to quality: “Achieved a record of zero defects in all pipe-welding and ductwork jobs.”
- An engineer shows contribution to the bottom line: “Drove $1.2 million revenue increase by deploying 200-plus software suites for company's leading product line.”
- A minister demonstrates increased church participation: “Helped grow membership from 175 to 249 in one year through active involvement in community events.”
Set a timer for five minutes and start jotting down your accomplishments for your most recent position. Write down any accomplishment, contribution, or achievement that comes to mind, even if it seems insignificant (you can always omit accomplishments later). Complete this exercise for each position on your resume. To help jog your memory, here are questions to ask yourself:
- Did you receive praise, recognition, or pats on the back from your supervisor or colleagues? For what (e.g., completing projects ahead of deadline, calming down irate customers, saving money)?
- Did you receive a promotion, award, or commendations from customers/clients?
- Were you selected for special projects, committees, or task forces?
- Name three accomplishments that make you proud. Did you complete a particularly challenging assignment? Participate in a solution that improved customer service, enhanced efficiency, saved money/time, or increased revenues?
- Are you known throughout your department/company for something?
- If you quit your job, what would everybody say about your work at your goodbye party?
Pulling it all together
Now that you've completed this brainstorming exercise, turn your accomplishments into high-impact statements. Lead with the result, outcome, or benefit to your employer. Here are a few examples of how to transform rough notes into accomplishments statements:
- Rough notes: When I first started, students were passing state exams at the dismal rate of 67%. I updated the curriculum and instilled the students with a love of history. By year's end, my students had achieved a 93% pass rate.
- Accomplishments statement: Dramatically increased pass rate of eighth-grade students from 67% to a record-high of 93% on state proficiency testing.
Position: Systems administrator
- Rough notes: I helped migrate more than 1,000 users from local servers to corporate Unix DCS servers. My boss wanted this done in a month, and unbelievably, I achieved this.
- Accomplishments statement: Integrally involved in seamless migration of 1,000-plus users from various local servers onto DCS corporate UNIX servers in aggressive one-month timeframe.
Position: Administrative assistant
- Rough notes: On my first day on the job, I couldn't find anything because the filing system was a mess. Customers were unhappy because wait times were long as we located files. I reorganized the filing system, which now works beautifully.
- Accomplishments statement: Improved office efficiency and customer service by overhauling previously haphazard filing system.
Try asking your supervisor or a colleague to name your top contributions to the team—others may have an easier time recognizing your value than you.
And remember, don't sell yourself short. You may take your accomplishments for granted, but potential employers see past success as an indicator of future performance. Your job search will be more effective if your resume showcases your key accomplishments.