List of Accomplishments
A resume for a new job should emphasize your major accomplishments. A
potential employer for an entry level professional position wants to know that he
or she is hiring a person that has a record of accomplishments. For that reason,
before attempting to write your resume it is best to draw up a list of your
accomplishments that you feel will convince a potential employee that you will
build on this track record while working for him or her.
The list of accomplishments should be written in a specific format. A separate
document in the Handouts section is titled “Sample Accomplishments and Power
Verbs”. As is demonstrated in the handout, for each accomplishment you have
achieved, describe it in a single sentence that starts with an action verb in the
past tense, followed by the word “by” and a verb that ends in “ing”. In other
words, tell the world what you did and how you did it. Everyone has
accomplished something. Even if you have never held a job you have
accomplishments. It is a matter of identifying your accomplishments. I have had
some students state they have never held a job. The only thing they have done
is work in their parent’s shop or business and they were never listed on a
payroll. In such a case, even if you received no pay, you should consider such
work to be a job and think of your accomplishments at your parent’s business.
What we are looking for here is not just a list of the duties you were
assigned. We need to see what you did while performing these duties. What
were your major contributions to your employer? Even more important, did you
show initiative by having accomplishments in areas that were not even on your
list of duties? As a warning, just listing the duties that appear in your job
description is a very common error and very boring for the reader of your
resume. Just listing your duties without showing what you accomplished will
usually condemn your resume to the reject pile.
At the end of the document is a list of common action verbs that you can use to
jump start your brain for this exercise.
The list of accomplishments you will develop will be incorporated into your
resume, which is an upcoming assignment.
In the professional world not all accomplishments are equal. There is a
hierarchy of accomplishments. For a resume the most important
accomplishments are your accomplishments at work. Have you ever come up
with an idea that saved the company money? Did you train other employees for
specific tasks that improved the operation of the company? For a recent college
graduate your efforts at any part time employment while attending school are
looked at for accomplishments.
The second level of accomplishments is your accomplishments at the
university. Did you contribute to any activities or clubs at the university,
especially student versions of professional organizations such as an accounting
club, a psychology club, etc.? Were you elected to an office in any student
organization? What did you do to merit the recognition of your fellow students
so that they elected you to an office?
The third level of accomplishments is your high school accomplishments. Only
occasionally do high school accomplishments carry much weight in the
professional job market.
The fourth type of accomplishments is volunteer work. Volunteer work can be
extremely valuable in your resume if it is relevant to the job for which you are
applying. If you are a psychology major looking for a career in youth counseling
and you have significant volunteer time with a youth group, your
accomplishments could rank up there with work accomplishments. On the other
hand, if your volunteer time is mostly sitting at the bar of a local fraternal
organization, it may rank below high school accomplishments and be better left
Whenever possible your accomplishments should be expressed in
numbers. Numbers are an important in creating an impact with the American
reader. As an example, you might state that one accomplishment was:
“Resolved past due amounts of one million dollars by researching and
organizing the corporate Goodyear account.”
You might state the same accomplishment in the following manner:
“Collected $1,000,000 in past due accounts by researching and organizing the
corporate Goodyear account.”
The difference is to put the results, the number 1,000,000, more to the front of
the sentence. The number is also in Arabic numerals. Both of these changes
make the accomplishment more visible to the reader. An American reader will
focus on a number much easier than text. The bored human resources person
who first reads the resume, and decides to discard or keep, will usually speed
read the resume. The speed reader will look at the first few words of each
sentence and decide if they need to read further. You will get attention if you
have a number at the beginning of the sentence.
Here are some additional examples of how to state your
accomplishments. Don’t just state that you saved your company money by
finding a new vendor for office supplies. State, for example, you saved the
company $5,000 per year by locating a new vendor for office supplies. In
another example, don’t list that you were assigned to take inventory of the stock
room. State that you discovered $3,000 of unrecorded merchandise by
inventorying the stock room. Of course, be sure your accomplishments are true
and can be verified. Some employers will check on your claims.
Some students may have significant accomplishments in the workplace, but they
do not know how much money they saved the company, or how much faster
work was accomplished, or how much more efficient the work was done as a
result of their accomplishments. They do not have a number because they do
not, or did not, have access to the financial data or other data that would allow
them to quantify the results of their accomplishments. You may not have the
exact numbers, but you can make an educated guess at the numbers. For
example, one of your accomplishments may be that you simplified the filing
system and were able to eliminate a large number of files. You don't know the
exact number of files you were able to eliminate through your effort, but you can
make a "best guess" as to the number. You usually have some idea of the
number of files you eliminated. Was it 10, 100, 1,000 or 100,000? Which of
these numbers do you think comes the closest?
As long as you come up with a reasonable number it is legitimate to use it. You
might pick a conservative number then state that you eliminated at least that
number. As long as you have a conservative number you should be OK if
anyone wants to check on your claim.
By now, of course, you have figured out that the accomplishments assignment is
the real guts of your upcoming resume. This is the place to spend your time
thinking of and honing the description of your accomplishments. As many
accomplishments as possible should be listed. When you write your resume it
will be easy to leave out some of the accomplishments that don’t fit, but it will be
difficult to come up with new accomplishments once you start writing the
I don’t know the age of each of you. But, even if you have been out of high
school 20 years, try going back at least as far as your high school graduation. If
you are a recent high school graduate and have gone directly from high school
to college, definitely include any part time jobs you held in high school and
consider your major high school accomplishments.
The list of accomplishments is due no later than Sunday at 11:59 PM.
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