In your career – and especially during your job search – it’s important to have several accomplishment stories to use in your cover letter, résumé, and during interviews. Although many people resort to listing duties and responsibilities on their job search documents, it’s sharing accomplishments that will truly impress potential employers.
How do you create these killer accomplishment stories and convey your fit for the opening? Follow this outline:
- Problem: What problem or challenge were you faced with?
- Action: What action(s) did you take?
- Results: What resulted from your action(s)? What benefits did the employer see afterward?
Think about what would have been different in each situation without your actions. What would not have happened if you hadn’t been there? How did you leave each organization better than you found it? Remember that accomplishments don’t always have to come from paid employment. College students and new grads can look to class projects, work-study, extra-curriculars, study abroad, sports, volunteer work, Greek organization roles, internships, summer jobs, and more for accomplishment stories.
Here’s an example:
- Problem: Assumed leadership position in the products division, which was experiencing no profitability and slow sales.
- Action: Created a new training program for sales representatives including innovative techniques and marketing strategies.
- Results: Product sales increased from $20,000 to $40,000 in just six months.
And here’s how you would use it on your résumé:
- Accomplishment story: Grew product sales by 200% in six months by implementing a new training program and introducing employees to innovative sales techniques and marketing strategies.
Although in an interview you would likely recite your accomplishment story in order, on your résumé you want to list it in reverse order. Why? Because, the employer spends only 2.5 to 20 seconds looking at your résumé. Results need to be listed first for each accomplishment so these outcomes catch the reader’s eye.
Ready to get started on your accomplishment stories? A few tips:
- Use action verbs to start each résumé bullet when conveying an accomplishment.
- Concisely edit your stories so they make sense but don’t leave off any important content the employer might want to know.
- Share measurable statistics and numbers when possible: How much? How big? How fast?
- Make your bullets flow logically so anyone who reads your résumé has a full understanding of what you accomplished.
Do you have accomplishment stories on your résumé or cover letter?
Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Cachinko. She is also the founder & president of Come Recommended, author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for Examiner.com, and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com.