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 professional resume a challenge.
You might wonder how you’re ever going to write bullet points for the accomplishments sections of your resume.
Don’t worry — this post will show you how!
Keep Accomplishments for Resumes Simple
To start, I know that many career writers recommend that you use the “situation, action, result” model to write your accomplishment statements.
While that’s sound advice for describing your results in an interview, 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 two pages, I usually omit the situation and focus on actions and results.
Build Your Resume Accomplishment Statements
To find natural patterns for you to use when writing accomplishment statements, I looked at several of my clients’ resumes. In doing so, I saw that most of the accomplishment statements I write use one of these three parts-of-speech 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.
First Add-On: Introduced Agile to product development team.
Second Add-On: Introduced Agile to product development team; reduced average MVP cycle time 36%.
Introducing Agile into a company or functional area is an accomplishment all by 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.
First Add-On: Created $10 million business unit; achieved highest margins in company.
Second Add-On: Created $10 million business unit in less than two years; achieved highest margins in company.
Again, creating a $10 million business is a signature accomplishment that can stand alone. 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 all happened in less than two years.
Example 3: Verb, Preposition, Noun
Template: Promoted to Vice President.
First Add-On: Promoted to Vice President in 18 months.
Second Add-On: Promoted to Vice President and General Manager of company’s 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 every day. 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 and start climbing!
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 description, 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 enliven 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 obtain?”
The three 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.
Updated July 2020
© 2019 – 2020, 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 has written for and been quoted by 100+ business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse.
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