Resume Tips: The achievement based resume

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If you’re like me then you are always looking for a new edge in your job application process. You scour the web, newspapers, and multiple job boards constantly searching for that perfect opportunity. You ask anyone you know what they have heard, you seek advice from the successful people you come across, and maybe this brings you closer to a great career.

But, before you get to walk through the doors, or login from home, to work for your dream employer you have to convince them you are worthy.

So, how do you stand out? How do you get an edge on your competition? I have one suggestion that just may help.

It’s called an Achievement-Based Resume. It’s not something new, but it is something that makes sense.

Traditionally, we write out a list of our objective, skills, work/volunteer experience, and education. You can categorize your work experience chronologically or by skill type (i.e., communication experience, technological experience). Either way is fine and depends on the person and the job they are applying for.

When it comes to adding detail to the work experience sections, most people simply write out a point-by-point description of their job. They make general statements about some of the responsibilities they have. The trouble with a generic or general description is that it excludes the personality and strength that is going to help you stand out. A general description doesn’t say anything about what you actually did while you were with said employer.

Think of it this way: job descriptions are stagnant. Someone writes a job description based on certain expectations of the employer. You get the job, work at the job, leave the job. That entire time, your employer’s base expectations (aka job description) doesn’t change. So, having a similar description on your resume doesn’t say whether or not you exceeded these expectations, and more importantly, how.

What I suggest is changing that description from your responsibilities to your accomplishments. Tell the reader what you did at your job. Maybe you initiated a new way of recording sales. Maybe you developed a training document. These kinds of achievements are both more impressive and say significantly more about who you are and what you can do for an employer.

Some things to remember:

  • Keep it personal. You are your own and only cheerleader.
  • If you were in a group, say what you brought to the group.
  • Focus on results. Yeah, doing things is great, but everyone wants a happy ending.
  • Be honest. If you get to an interview your lies will hurt you.
  • Keep it succinct. Try to keep each achievement to one line (if the employer wants to know more they will ask in an interview).
  • List your most impressive achievements. List from most important to least, and try to only list a few (3-5).
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