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Resume Achievements - How to Write Achievements on a Resume: The 2018 Guide

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Your last major accomplishment could be anything from leveling up in PUBG to sticking to your diet for a week.

What counts is your last major professional accomplishment - if you increased sales or cut costs at your company. Do not be afraid to brag about your achievements in your "my accomplishments" section on a resume.

It helps your resume stand out and can convert your resume design from an amateur to a true-blood professional.

80% of resumes get rejected within the first 11 seconds. In those 80%, at least 40% could not stand out due to an accomplishment section that did not quantify their best skills. This article describes the steps to enhance the key accomplishments in your resume.

You can check out free resume samples on our online resume builder to get greater clarity on how achievements are framed in a resume.

Broadly, we'll cover the following:


Academic Achievement vs. Professional Achievement

Academic Achievements

An academic achievement can be any accomplishment in high school, college, university, or beyond (in academia). These resume accomplishments may range from your test scores, awards and scholarships to even leading or taking part in any significant research work. They could be associated with your school or your prospective job profile.

However, your resume should not only consist of everything you have ever achieved at school. You must tailor your resume accomplishments to make sure that they are relevant to your professional life.

The academic achievements you list out on your achievements resume section should ideally convince the recruiter that you are suitable for the position.

Professional Achievements

Relevant accomplishments in your resume include highlighting your best skills. Before noting down your achievements, brainstorm a list of accomplishments for your resume.

Make sure to include resume achievements which you can quantify in some way. You may add significant awards or honors that you received in that duration as well, like Employee of the Month, and other such good accomplishments.

In sales achievements you may include resume accomplishment examples like increasing sales, online social engagement, customer satisfaction, or anything that improved the scope of your former company.

The following points are universally worth mentioning in your resume accomplishment statements:

  • Accomplishing anything that you can directly illustrate with facts and figures.
  • Examples of professional accomplishments for a resume that showcases how you use your skills.
  • Anything that your boss praised you for such as completing something ahead of time or gaining more customers.
  • Winning an award or receiving a promotion.

To tailor your resume achievents according to the skills listed in the job description, follow these steps:

  1. Find out whether any of your professional resume accomplishment examples display your use of the listed skills to the best of your ability.
  2. Pair significant achievements examples with corresponding skills.
  3. Begin the point with a power verb/action verb and quantify the achievement

Duties vs. Resume Achievements

The things that you did at your job to deliver a positive impact and your contribution to the employer’s business comprise your resume achievements. They showcase that you have done the job well.

Skills and knowledge you are expected to possess in order to perform your everyday work duties comprise your duties. They do not count as accomplishments.

We frequently come across people who, in a rush to update their resume, simply pick out points from the Job Description of their previous profiles and paste them in their resume.

What they forget is that a JD is responsibility/duty-based while a resume is achievement-based.

A JD lists out the expectations from a potential employee and mentions what all duties are they expected to perform. The very tone of those points bleed duties and responsibilities.

Placing those points verbatim in your resume will reduce you to a subordinate who's only good at doing things which he's told to do. You can't showcase your leadership skills through this approach.

Resume Accomplishments vs. Responsibilities

A resume should ideally be accomplishment-oriented and not responsibility-oriented. When a person builds a resume, he makes the common mistake of including a long list of responsibilities persued in their past roles without any context. This list may not grab anybody’s attention.

What recruiters and even the ATS (Application Tracking System) want to know is your contribution to your organization. It includes initiatives that you may have taken, and the values you may have added. Therefore, resume accomplishments showcase how you have made a positive impact by performing your duties.

Duties and responsibilities do not say anything about your candidature either. Candidates may have similar work experience and similar responsibilities. However, focusing on resume accomplishments will set you apart.

The following questions should help you create a master resume accomplishments section:

  • Are you known for something special in your department/company?
  • Did you receive praise or recognition from your supervisor or colleagues? What did you receive credits for (e.g. saving money, completing projects ahead of time, etc.)?
  • Did you receive recommendations from your clients?
  • Were you selected for projects or task forces?
  • Did you participate in solving a particularly challenging assignment that improved customer service or enhanced efficiency?

To find a sample list of achievements you may check out our resume samples, or try making your resume on our online resume builder.


Why Do Resume Accomplishments Matter?

Achievement-focused resumes land more interviews. With competition being extremely high, it is fairly common to come across several hundred applicants for any one job possessing similar skills, qualifications and even experiences.

A resume which focuses on tangible strengths and not on listing duties and responsibilities increases your chances of securing a response and get a shortlist.


Identifying Resume Achievements

To best identify your career accomplishments, broadly list your skills and former job profiles. Then sort out the quantifiable impact and positive contribution that you were able to deliver for your employer across those profiles.

Review feedbacks for praises and formal inputs, such as, the results of performance reviews.

An opinion of a third person can be very helpful. If you have any difficulty identifying their achievements ask for inputs from a supportive colleague or a friend. Someone else can help you make an objective assessment of your positive and negative skillsets. This could reveal values which you may not have considered. A third party opinion may also be able to help you quantify your resume accomplishments.

Individual vs. Team Achievements

In case you achieved best results as part of a team you can include them respectively. Consider the following example:

Member of a high-performing team which increased sales worth $2.5 B in one year.

Our resume achievements section often depends on the community of people we are working with. Therefore, it is important maintain a record of it in the achievement section.

Mentioning team performance not only showcases your skills as a high-achiever but also yuor collaborative style as a team player. Since it does not exclusively tell a recruiter about your persona contribution to the success, you may need to include specific details of the role you played. For example:

Policy maker of high-performing team which increased sales worth $2.5 B in one year.

Personal Achievements

Even if you have little or no previous work experience you should aim to include them in your resume. It is alright to include resume accomplishments from other aspects of your life which are relevant to the job you are applying for. Some examples of these areas include volunteering roles and good academic records. For example:

  • Quantifying money raised for charity and methodologies applied.
  • Role played in serving a community or student committee and explaining how you made a difference.
  • Leading a well-sized student team on a project and mentioning their achievements under your leadership.
  • Elaborating awards won and the values that they added.

Resume Accomplishments Section

The resume accomplishments may exist as a bucket within your work experiences, if it is significant to the work experience, or in your career highlights section. It may also exist separately immediately after the work experience section.

Structure of an Achievement

A resume achievements section consists of three principle components:

  • Using a skill.
  • Carrying out any activity.
  • Getting a quantifiable result.

The Cause-Effect Relationship

Writing the resume achievements section is statistically the most difficult part. However, the simplest way to do it is to follow the cause-effect relationship underscored by the Princeton formula. It follows a two-step process step that asks:

  1. What did I do?
  2. So what was the quantifiable result?

Therefor, instead of stating that you "were responsible for a team of 10 people", you can write that you "headed a 10 people team which created the maximum sales output in the particular year".


How to List Resume Achievements

There are no definitive rules for writing your professional or academic resume achievements. However, we do provide a general guidelines that we follow when we add resume accomplishments.

These guidelines ensure that your resume accomplishments section is easily readable and detectable by the ATS.

Here are six guidelines on how to list academic achievements on a resume:

Traditional Formatting

The format of your resume achievements section should be be consistent with the other sections of your resume. Otherwise it may be difficult to read. The goal of any resume should be to make the recruiter appreciate your history and experiences.

More often than note many resumes comprise inappropriate fonts, uneven borders, or even mismatched colors and different text sizes. These resumes are difficult to read.

Therefore, it is really important that your resume looks professional. This suggests that you follow a simple and traditional format - which includes:
simple font like Times New Roman or Helvetica
font size 11 to 16, depending on the type of text (heading or paragraph text).
font space 1 - 1.5

We would recommend that you follow a traditional style resume template which is available in our online resume builder to help avoid formatting errors. This activates the employer to read through quickly and easily without much confusion. Therefore, you chances of passing the 10-second test increases.

Easy to Read

Your resume achievements section should be clear and easy to read so that ir reflects the most significant points to the recruiter.

Recruiters hardly devote a few seconds to reading a single resume, so your academic achievements should be extremely to glance through. This glance should reflect the important academic achievements as well as professional achivements on your resume.

A clean font and consistent formatting along with well-bucketed sections ensures clear reflection of your resume accomplishments.

Be Selective

The list of achievements in your resume accomplishments section should not comprise all things that you have accomplished at school.

Make sure your use of the space in your resume to its best. Tailor the list of resume achievements to correspond to your job description and career goals. Rememeber that the academic achievements should say something important about you as a potential employee. Consider the following example:

To apply for a retail sales job, your physics exam score would probably count as important. However, writing multiple extracurricular activities in your resume achievements section showcases that you are a multitasker who enjoys socializing with others. This skill would be relevant for a sales associate.

Quantifying Resume Accomplishments

Accomplishments are more than an exaggerated description of your skills and experience. They are solid proof of your past performances. They come across as strong when you quantify them using numericals. For example the statement:

"increased sales by 30% in 2 months"

is much stronger than

"increased sales of the company"

However, if you cannot provide the exact number you may provide a fairly accurate estimate value which could be confirmed if the recruiter contacts your former employer.

Send a Message about your Personality

Your resume accomplishments section should be coherent with the rest of your experiences and qualifications. This sends a clear message to the recruiter about who you are as an employee - responsible, creative, multi-tasking.

List your most important characteristics and then integrate them in you academic achievements section. The exercice at the exnd of this section should help you write a resume achievements section distinctly.

You may also use our online resume builder or follow the examples for more clarity on the resume accomplishments section

If you’re applying for the position of a teacher, you may want to seem responsible, engaging and disciplined. Your time management skills and knowledge of subject matters are also skills worth highlighting.

Therefore make sure to include extracurriculars and scholastic accomplishments that represent these characteristics.

An exmaple of resume achievements within the work profile of a Sales and BD Leader is as follows:

accomplishment-eg-1

Proofread for Spelling and Grammar

Ensure proofreading the resume achievements section for correct usage of spelling and grammar. You could ask a friend or colleague to scan your resume.

Exercise

Once you have completed master resume accomplishments section you must turning it into statements of impact. You would want to lead with the result, outcome, or the benefit you contributed to. The following examples show how to transform notes into resume accomplishments statements:

Position: IT Manager

Rough notes: On my first day on the job, the efficiency of the team was only 60%. It was due to the slow paced computers and the butterfly effect on efficiency of the task force itself. Customers were also dissatisfied with the long wait times for their deliverables. I gathered a small team to format the computers and remove the junk file within one day. They also installed anti-virus softwares to maintain smooth working of the computers. This enabled the task force to start working at full efficiency the very next day.

Resume accomplishment statements: Improved workforce efficiency from 60% to 85% and customer service by overhauling previously haphazard computer system.

Position: Teacher

Rough notes: At the beginnig of my career at school, pass-rate of students were at the rate of only 50%. My responsibilities included updating the curriculum and changing the course structure to make students like the subject. By the end of the year, the students had achieved a pass rate of 88%.

Resume accomplishment statements: Increased pass-rate of students from 50% to a record-high of 88% within 1 year.


Accuracy is Important

Be honest about your achievements. Refrain from exaggerating your qualifications. Remember it is very easy for employers to check your claims with your former employers. False information may result in elimination, or in some cases, criminal charges. Always try to back up your claims with details.


Examples of Career Accomplishments in a Resume

Accountant

  • Managed a financial team of 10+ employees increasing efficiency in the department by 20%
  • Balanced a $2M budget with cost saving strategies by an average of 25% every year.

Information Technology

  • Developed an online training platform to increase enrollment by 50+ in all courses per year.
  • Launched a digitized filing system that led to an increase in attendance of staff resulting in 40% overall efficiency of the company.

Marketing

  • Increased staff participation in social responsibility intiatives by 50% through the launch of various awareness campaigns.
  • Headed a team of 10 employees enabling national rebranding within 4 months instead of the projected 12.

Key Takeaways

It is not enough to put together your roles and responsibilities in your resume.

Corporate companies receive an average of 250+ resumes in response to one job opening.

Therefore your accomplishments resume should be results-oriented rather than reponsibilties oriented.

Many profiles may have similar responsibilities. So your resume achievements section showcases the exaact skills you have to do the job.

Don’t be too modest. But make sure to put a significant list of achievements in your resume.

Your individual achievements are listed differently from your team achievements

Follow the Cause-Effect formula to provide most impact. First, list what you did, then back it with quantifiable results.

Maintain the following key points while listing your resume accomplishments

  • Traditional Formatting
  • Easy Readability
  • Be Selective
  • Quantify your resume accomplishments
  • Send a Message about your Personality
  • Proofread for Spelling and Grammar

Still have more doubts around phrasing your achievements in a resume? Drop in a comment below and our resume experts will get back to you within 24 hours!