The Best Improvement You Can Make to Your Resume

Posted by Patra Frame

Resume ImprovementMaybe you have read a lot of articles on resumes, perhaps only a few. Either way, you know you need to demonstrate your achievements that show your value for the job.

Writing solid achievement statements takes work. Done well, it enhances your options and success.

First, list your main accomplishments at every past job – go back 20 years if you have worked that long. Consider looking at your past performance appraisals any ‘great job’ notes/emails you have received, and other records as well as your memory. If you have been smart enough to maintain a master resume over time, it is an excellent resource.

Then, as you start thinking about achievements, pick out those which have the most meaning to you. These would be the ones that you felt good about, where you had a sense of achievement at the end, and enjoyed doing. Skip those for work you did well but disliked – those will attract people with jobs you do not want.

Next, create a success story about each one. The format is simple: describe the:

  • Situation or Task
  • Actions you took, and
  • Results.

Simple memory trick: you want a story that STARs you.

With these success stories written out, begin to distill each story into a 1-2 sentence bullet point for your resume. The stories later become great interview responses!

If you have not looked for a new cleared job in the past year or you are in transition from the military/government, look at plenty of cleared job postings which interest you. Check to see that the words they use and the experience they seek is reflected in your achievements.

Achievement examples from recent cleared resumes

  • 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 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.

  • Provided support to managers while monitoring work of other assigned personnel and maintaining timely actions within budget guidelines.

Also weak and could be almost any job from a clerk to a senior administrator. Again, no idea of the impact or results.

Better examples include these

  • Turned around a failing project by improving project performance by 5%: identified ways to work more effectively on three critical tasks and increased coordination among project staff and with client.
  • Led business analysis to define schedule and resource requirements rapidly and fully for a major technology upgrade project, developed and led team of five recognized for our thoroughness and high quality of work under time pressures.

A military example, before and after

  • Served as Marine guard at embassies in Iraq and South Korea


  • Protected embassy staff in Iraq and South Korea from attacks and demonstrators.
  • Managed communications security for 300 people without any adverse incidents.
  • Trained over 65 new team members in local security issues and how to ensure protection for all levels of personnel.
  • Responded to new and changing demands calmly and effectively to help reduce tensions in highly charged emotional or dangerous situations.

As you write your achievements, look at the verbs you use. Far too many people throw away their expertise with weak verbs. These often include: responsible for, assisted, supported, coordinated, helped, and similar words that are not precise and can imply a wide range of actions. There are lists of action words and great verbs for resumes, such as 120 Powerful Resume Words to Get a Cleared Job. Take a look at these to help you choose the most robust, appropriate verbs for your bullet points. This also helps create variety, so you’re not stuck on only a few — such as managed, directed, repaired — used repeatedly.

Skip using job descriptions in your resume. 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.


Many people have difficulty figuring out results. In many technical positions, the work may be repetitive and critical, but there are not as many specifics about results. In classified work, individuals often think only of the classified results. Others do not have specific records of detailed, quantifiable results. In writing your bullet points, what a new employer wants is to see what you can do for them.

For classified operations, your results may be:

  • Briefed command level staff on current operations
  • Wrote new counter-terrorism policy guidance
  • Assessed new technology for future operations
  • Led team including foreign military officials to ensure effective practices
  • Trained X number of people on new security protocols, or similar ideas.

Just think of the goal of your work, rather than the specifics.

In technical positions, you might also look at the goal of your work as a possible result. Certainly, if you can say you managed maintenance for X number of vehicles, do so. Sometimes what you did was more like these:

  • Assessed new technology concepts for feasibility
  • Ensured communications availability for national level personnel during worldwide travel
  • Reviewed common network ticket items to identify training or process changes needed.


Once you have a draft resume, get some feedback. Ask people you trust for feedback on your achievement statements. We are often too close to our own work to write concise, clear bullet points. We leave out important details or use too much jargon. Someone else’s eyes often help strengthen and clarify your words into what you meant to say.

When you have created a new resume you think is great, 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 ClearedJobs.Net; update your social media accounts as appropriate. 
  • Send a copy to anyone you have recently talked to about a specific cleared 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 opportunity to demonstrate your value to a potential employer.

Don’t waste the good opportunities now available for job seekers — improve your resume, enhance your search!

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management 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. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.


This entry was posted on Monday, January 27, 2020 12:50 pm

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