Resume Accomplishments

mona-lisa-leonardo-da-vinci-la-gioconda-oil-painting-40997Leonardo da Vinci is the man responsible for the first resume, created over 500 years ago while he was seeking employment as a military engineer in Milan. A lot has changed from that da Vinci’s resume, and etiquette is always evolving.  When I was in college, the career centers recommended using a resume to provide high-level information on job duties.  They also said I needed an objective, but that’s no longer the case either.  Most of the bullets on my first resume started with “responsible for” and went from there.  Admittedly, that was over a decade ago. Nowadays, just listing job duties isn’t enough to get you hired.   Hiring managers want more than what you did each day; they want you to tell them about what you were able to accomplish.  Strong resume accomplishments will help you to stand out amongst the competition.

Show & Tell

Resumes are filled with buzzwords: team player, flexible, strong multitasker, great communicator, etc.  While you probably have these skills using these words doesn’t help your resume.  Buzzwords are general statements that don’t come with proof, and hiring managers tend to ignore them.  Instead of using empty buzzwords, show employers that you have these skills through your accomplishments.  While anyone can say that they’re a great multitasker, think about what you can put on your resume to prove it.  There are three great ways to present resume accomplishments on a resume:  numbers, annual goals, and awards & recognition.

NumbersNumbers are a great way to highlight resume accomplishments

Numbers make your resume stronger.  Take advantage of any chance you have to show your accomplishments with numbers.  Using numbers is a lot easier if you work somewhere that tracks metrics and measures results.   I know that it’s not always easy to measure your impact and sometimes it’s hard to remember the numbers that you influenced. These bullets will fall in one of three categories: dollars, percentages, or hours.  Keep track of the number of team members, budgets and hours saved as you work on future projects so you can quickly update your resume later.

  • Managed all aspects of the $1.5M program budget including membership benefits, events, project development, and staffing.
  • Launched three successful campaigns in 2015 in new industries resulting in 150% grow
  • Developed a tool to update and track data entry transactions, saving 40 hours of weekly labor.

Annual Goals

Chances are you go through some goal setting at work each year.  Goals are fantastic tools for resume writing so pull out your previous reviews and see what projects you were working and how you performed.  These are the big-ticket items that you should include on your resume.  As a project manager, your resume should highlight how you effectively led teams to deliver ahead of schedule, under budget or exceeding the requirements.

  • Led two teams through bi-yearly employee survey action planning, increasing survey response rates from 37% in 2009 to 68% in 2011.
  • Organized and oversaw a multi-day trade show for vendors in the food and beverage industry at the Hospitality Expo in Las Vegas.

Awards and Recognition

Awards or recognition make great resume accomplishmentsAny recognitions or awards are potential resume accomplishments.   Since you are using your resume to highlight your achievements, awards and recognition are an excellent way to go about it.  If the project is outside of your normal scope but matches a skill that the job is looking for, then it’s worth including.  When you use your resume to highlight accomplishments you’re showing that you’re willing to go above and beyond.For my superstars out there who have lots of awards under your belt, be selective and choose the most impactful awards.

  • Recognized as Employee of the Quarter for organizing a community-wide food drive and overseeing 15 volunteers to advertise, collect and deliver non-perishable goods to the local food bank.
  • Selected as 1 of 12 Executive Advisors out of a class of 250 nationwide. Donated over 200 hours of management consulting to a student team over a three month period.

Functional Bullets

Sometimes it’s not possible to focus solely on resume accomplishments.  Sometimes you need to demonstrate skills for the job, and you don’t have an achievement that relates.  This is where the functional bullets come in handy.  They focus on the general responsibilities of the job.  A resume has limited space, so do your best to keep these items to a minimum.  Don’t repeat them, and only list skills that you’re not able to cover in other areas.

  • Responsible for reporting and ensuring compliance with federal, state and local laws
  • Built and managed project schedules using both waterfall and agile methodology
  • Used HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS to design the internal company website.

Frequency of Updates

The good news is that resume updates get easier each time you do them.  After awhile making updates becomes more about fine-tuning your resume.  As your career grows, you want to revisit your resume every six months to a year, even if you’re not looking for a job.  Set up a calendar reminder and set aside an hour or two to update your current job responsibilities.  That way your accomplishments stay fresh, and you capture them before you forget.  It’s okay if this version of your resume is long, you’ll be customizing it for each job you apply for in the future 🙂  This just provides you with more material to choose from when you become an active job seeker.


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