Resume Check: Strengthen your Achievements

Posted by Patra Frame

You have read it on a million pieces of job search advice.  I say it all the time.  Yet many resumes still lack solid statements about what the individual accomplished in previous jobs.  And those actual achievements are what tell an employer what you can do for them.

You can write strong achievement statements with just a little effort.  And that will boost your job search results.  Whether you rely on past resumes, old performance appraisals, or just your memory, start by making a list of your basic accomplishments at each previous job.

Then start turning these into achievement statements for your resume.  The format to follow is simple: describe the Situation, Task or issue + the Actions you took and + the Results.  Simple memory trick: you want a story that STARs you.

Now an example from a recent resume I saw:

* Coordinated efforts with the projects’ senior manager, clients and technical team members to identify areas of opportunity and improve project performance.

See how weak that actually is?  Coordinated could be almost anything from clerical work to high level program management.  And we have no idea what, IF ANY, results there were.  A better alternative might be:

* For a project that was significantly behind schedule and running up costs: Consulted clients, managers and team members to identify improvements which resulted in reducing budget over-runs; created a template to get the project back on time without sacrificing any achievables or quality of work.


* Turned around a failing project by improving project performance by 5%: identifed ways to work more effectively on three tasks and increased coordination among project staff and with client.

Getting the hang of it?  Here is another example:

* Lead business analyst team of 5 in establishing schedule and resource requirements. Oversaw evaluation of vendor tools and services. Supervised data model design, technology acquisition and reporting teams with direct reporting by team leads.

Depending on how recent this is and what it contributes to the job the person wants next, this could be one to three bullets.  For example:

* Led business analysis to define schedule and resource requirements rapidly and fully for X (title or number) projects.  Developed and led team of five recognized for our thoroughness and high quality of work under time pressures.

* Oversaw evaluation of vendor tools and services which resulted in reduced costs (better yet, a specific number here – 3% reduction in costs.)

Too often people put a lot of their job description into their resume instead of their own personal actions.  Change these as often as possible into achievements!  No recruiter or hiring manager cares about what you were supposed to do, they want to know what you did and how it relates to their needs.

So: Served as Marine guard at embassies in Iraq and South Korea

Could become:

* Protected embassy staff in Iraq and South Korea from attacks and demonstrators.

* Managed communications security for 300 people without any adverse incidents.

* Trained new team members in effective methods of managing all levels of personnel.

* Responded to new and changing demands calmly and effectively to help reduce tensions in highly charged emotional or dangerous situations.

Now take a look at your resume — what can you improve by making it an accomplishment with a description that STARs you?  Where do you need to replace job description with real achievements?  Ask others you know for some feedback on your new statements — they can help strengthen them and make each clear to anyone who looks at your resume.

And once you have created a new resume, take these actions:

– send a copy to those people who are helping you with your job search and ask for any additional feedback

– upload the new resume to and other job boards to replace your old resume.

– send a copy to anyone you have recently talked to about a specific job: recruiters, hiring managers, employees at an organization you have targeted in your search.

Each of these actions improves your chances of making the right connection.  Each offers you another chance to demonstrate your value to a potential employer.

Don’t waste the good opportunities summer brings for job seekers — refresh your resume, renew your search!

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.


This entry was posted on Thursday, July 01, 2010 3:09 pm

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