Accomplishments for resumes make most people tear their hair out during job searches. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Potential employers want to know that you crushed your job duties whether you:
- Saved the company
- Increased sales or beat your sales goal
- Cut year-over-year expenses
- Gave customer service that drove a Net Promoter Score skyward
- Delivered your duties and responsibilities
However, you might not remember what you accomplished. Or you might not feel comfortable “bragging.”
Thus, the need to share your accomplishments can make crafting your resume hard.
You might wonder how you’re ever going to write the achievements sections of your resume.
Don’t worry — this post will show you how!
Keep Accomplishments for Resumes Simple
To start, I know many people tell you to use the “situation, action, result” model.
That’s sound advice for describing your results in an interview. But it’s not a practical template for accomplishments for resumes.
Why? Because it often results in text that’s too long for the limited space you have on your resume.
So, to keep the resumes I write to 2 pages, I usually omit the situation and focus on actions and results.
Build Your Resume Accomplishment Statements
I looked at several of my clients’ resumes to find natural patterns. I saw that most of the accomplishment statements I write use one of these 3 templates:
- Verb, Noun
- Verb, Adjective, Noun
- Verb, Preposition, Noun
I could see that I almost always activate one of those core templates and then build on it. Check out the progressively embellished examples below.
Example 1: Verb, Noun
Template: Introduced Agile.
1st Add-On: Introduced Agile to product development team.
2nd Add-On: Introduced Agile to product development team; reduced average MVP cycle time 36%.
Introducing Agile to a company or functional area is an accomplishment in itself. In this case, I first built on the template by adding the functional area’s name. Then, I added the most important result obtained.
Example 2: Verb, Adjective, Noun
Template: Created $10 million business.
1st Add-On: Created $10 million business unit; achieved highest margins in company.
2nd Add-On: Created $10 million business unit in less than 2 years; achieved highest margins in company.
Again, creating a $10 million business is a signature accomplishment. In this case, I built on it by noting that the business unit also achieved the company’s highest margins. Finally, I pointed out that it all happened in less than 2 years.
Example 3: Verb, Preposition, Noun
Template: Promoted to Vice President.
1st Add-On: Promoted to Vice President in 18 months.
2nd Add-On: Promoted to Vice President & General Manager of largest division in 18 months.
A promotion to VP is a singular enough accomplishment to stand on its own. In this case, I added the speed of the promotion. Then, I put a cherry on top of that — the company’s largest division.
Accomplishments for Resumes Need a Scaffolding
If you’re not a professional resume writer, you don’t write accomplishment statements daily. So, go easy on yourself by using these simple templates.
They’re your scaffolding. Start at ground level with the most straightforward template, then add elements.
How to Find Action Verbs to Start Your Accomplishment Statements
You probably noticed that each of my templates starts with a verb.
If you have a job posting, use this parts-of-speech parser to identify the verbs it contains. It takes about a second. Then, as you scan through the results, you will likely find verbs you can use to animate your resume.
Plus, per research, replicating some of a company’s language helps you get job offers.
No job posting? Then use this list of my favorite resume verbs to get yourself started. Ask yourself, “What action did I take? On what? What results did I deliver?”
The 3 templates I shared will get you started on accomplishments for your resume. Then, if you want to see how you can build further on those patterns, click through to my sample resumes.
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Updated December 2022
© 2019 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
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Donna, these templates and examples are excellent. I know they will help many people. I especially like the add-one!
I’m amazed at how simple and powerful the first one is: Noun, Verb.
It’s good to walk before you run when writing resume accomplishment statements!
That’s a good way of putting. Start simple, then expand!
Donna, I love each of the examples, especially with the first and second iterations. It helps bring the templates to life. Thanks!
Thank you! I’m glad you found them helpful.
saying this templates are great is an understatement,..
They are super awesome. Loved the part of verb search.
I got to learn the importance just recently, and this your post just solidifies it.
Thanks for sharing.
If you agree you have contributed something, that ‘something’ is an accomplishment, not a puffed-up statement to get the job regardless of the responsibility you had. I agree- it’s not easy to organize and write- but it’s better than cutting-and-pasting your job description especially if you are don’t have any knowledge in writing.
I agree. No job descriptions in resumes, please!