Most people are listing “duties and responsibilities” on their resumes. A more effective way of representing yourself is framing these things as “accomplishments.” Here’s how to turn your duties and responsibilities into accomplishments.
Any job-search or career consultant worth their salt will tell you that identifying and quantifying your career achievements is key to standing out to hiring managers. You have to be able to point to your successes so that a potential employer can envision how you will create success for their organization. But sometimes it’s hard to identify those achievements and accomplishments. You know you have to have done good things, but can’t figure out what they are or how to talk about them. How do you figure out what’s important, what’s impressive, and what is worth talking about?
What you did vs. what you achieved
Most people include their “duties and responsibilities” from each job in their resume’s “experience” section. But this doesn’t present you in the best light or make the best possible use of resume real estate. Remember, you only have a few seconds to make an impression with that resume and you have to make it count.
For example, duties and responsibilities for an HR manager might include something like, “Responsible for recruiting, screening, interviewing and placing employees. Managed employee relations, payroll, benefits, training and onboarding.”
But, here’s the thing: the person hiring already knows what an HR manager does. You don’t need to tell them that part. You want to demonstrate why you’re the best person to do those things. So, here’s how to turn your duties and responsibilities into accomplishments:
- Implemented systems, including an employee referral program to increase the ratio of qualified to unqualified job applicants by 85%.
- Maximized team productivity and reduced costs by streamlining training and onboarding programs.
- Identified issues with employee motivation and experience by implementing employee satisfaction surveys. Overall net satisfaction scores increased by 75% over a six-month period.
- Reduced expenses by 30% by automating hiring processes, consolidating programs, and more.
How do you find your accomplishments?
Look at your career history and make a list of things you’re proud of. Increasing revenue, managing teams, saving time…these are all accomplishments! Solving a problem is an accomplishment. Can’t think of anything? Ask yourself if you have done any of the following:
- Saved money
- Reduced costs
- Increased revenue
- Saved time
- Improved sales
- Improved something else
- Increased leads
- Identified and reached new markets
- Solved a problem
- Created something that solved a problem
- Made something easier
- Invented something
- Accomplished more by spending less
- Improved efficiency
- Improved customer or employee experience
- Made something work better
- Implemented new procedures or systems
- Received an award
Once you have identified your accomplishments, create stories around them. These stories should demonstrate that a) you used your skills and qualifications to b) carry out an action (or actions) that c) resulted in a measurable result or benefit. If there was a particular problem you identified in the beginning and set out to solve, all the better.
Find short ways to tell these stories in your resume and/or cover letter rather than simply listing your “duties and responsibilities.”
Even if your accomplishments are small, they still count. It’s all in the way you frame them. Increasing a Twitter account following from 20-40 people is a 100% increase. The manager saying “good job” because you colour coordinated the sweaters on the display rack of the retail store where you work can become “Received recognition from management for the reorganization of merchandise displays to increase visual appeal and attract customers.”
You get the idea. To stand out next to the rest of the candidates, look for your achievements and you will find them.