Resume writing requires you to step outside of yourself and view your career from an outside perspective.
Suddenly it's not about who you'd like to see yourself as, but who you really are — there's little room for opinion, since you need to back everything up with skills, education, and experience.
In today’s global job market, recruiters are starting to look past traditional criteria like formal degrees. 57% of recruiters say that their strategies are designed to attract diverse candidates. This means that companies are increasingly valuing job seekers for what makes them different.
While many people can graduate from the same school with the same set of skills, your achievements are unique to your work experience.
This article will show you examples of achievements you can put on your resume and how best to include them to help you stand out from the crowd.
Duties or responsibilities are about activities, while accomplishments are about outcomes.
Responsibilities come standard with a given job title. They might indicate that you have skills, but not how skilled you are compared to others.
Accomplishments paint a picture of how you’ve made a unique, positive impact in the workplace or society which is why accomplishments are so important to have on your resume.
There are many different types of achievements or accomplishments you can include on your resume.
One simple distinction you can make is between personal and professional accomplishments.
Personal achievements cover a wide range, and can include:
We’re going to focus more on professional achievements, which can include any of the following:
These lists are endless, but that should be enough to get your gears spinning.
If you already have a resume, there are likely plenty of opportunities there for you to rewrite responsibilities or duties as accomplishments.
Let’s illustrate with some examples of how you can transform a set of duties (D) into accomplishments (A):
(D) Responding to customer complaints → (A) Decreased average resolution time by 15%
(D) Installed electrical equipment → (A) Designed and installed electrical wiring at 50 construction sites.
(D) Volunteered at a food bank → (A) Packaged and delivered over 100 boxes of food to less fortunate families.
(D) Competitive swimming → (A) Swam competitively for five years, specializing in the 50m backstroke.
The world is increasingly driven by numbers — from prices on a stock chart to the number of engagements on a social media post.
Modern companies are also increasingly making hiring decisions based on data. They don’t just want a description of you; they want to quantify your value to make it easier to measure you against the other candidates.
And achievements are much easier (and faster) to tie numbers to than skills or personality traits like ambition and resolve.
Here’s how that affects your job search:
As they skim through your resume, they’re comparing your potential value to the role against your competition. And they’re quick to discard a resume when they can’t glean that value right away, or worse, when something is amiss.
In fact, 75% of hiring managers have caught lies on resumes. This means that providing them with quantifiable results will make you seem more trustworthy, increasing your chances of getting to that next stage.
Achievements also matter because they are in your control — giving you more opportunity to stand out from the competition.
They can also help you showcase why you’re the right person for a job, even if it’s in a new field.
A Federal Reserve study says that only 27% of recent graduates work in a field related to their major. As grim as these numbers may be, they should also give you a sense of freedom.
There’s no need to stay locked into a field you dislike just because you worked a similar job in the past.
It may sound like a cliche, but, you can be anything you want to be, as long as you have the achievements to back it up.
But this also presents us with a chicken-and-egg problem:
How do you gain achievements without being hired in the first place?
Well, remember how personal achievements can also be used in your resume?
You can create your own side projects and case studies that show your potential. It’s this kind of initiative that could eventually inspire a potential employer to bet on you.
Lastly, 98% of resumes include the work experience section, which highlights achievements. You might think this means the odds are already stacked against you.
While you will almost always compete with others for a given job, each applicant has a unique set of achievements to offer. So focus on showing yours in the best possible way.
Now that you know the benefits of listing achievements on your resume, you might be wondering which sections you should add them to.
There are only two mandatory resume sections for your achievements. Let’s go through each one separately:
Think of this as your elevator pitch. The resume summary is the section at the top of your resume that lays out your skills and achievements in 3-5 sentences.
The resume summary is at the top for a reason - it’s critical. A resume that doesn’t capture a potential employer’s attention with this section goes to the bottom of the pile.
This is what a mediocre resume summary looks like:
“Truck driver with more than four years of experience.”
The only quantifiable takeaway from this summary is the four years of experience, which is by no means a great differentiator. If the next resume in the pile says that the candidate has five years of experience, then what?
Here’s how you could spruce up this resume summary:
“Truck driver with 4+ years of experience delivering cargo on time and within budget. Drove over 2,000 miles per week with a 100% delivery rate and zero accidents on the road. Compliant with DOT rules and regulations.”
It’s recommended that you write this section last. That way, you can re-read your resume and isolate your greatest strengths to include in your summary.
This is the meat of your resume, the second place a recruiter’s eyes typically go, right after the resume summary.
The work experience section includes everything from your previous employers, job titles, job descriptions, and periods of employment to your skills, responsibilities, and achievements. Often in that exact order.
One way to list your accomplishments here is to simply add them as a bullet list right underneath your responsibilities.
Take the following resume as an example:
Depending on the specifics of your resume, you can sprinkle your personal achievements throughout these optional sections as well.
Here is a list of career-specific achievements that you can take inspiration from. You can even copy some of these over to your resume — just make sure you customize them to fit your unique experience.
Designed surveys and built reports from the responses in Google Forms.
Helped migrate company videos over to the cloud, increasing our storage capacity by 10x.
Recorded meeting minutes for one year, increasing meeting efficiency by 20%.
Hired and trained 10 new staff members over the course of three years.
Organized daily and weekly work schedules, decreasing missed deadlines by 34%.
Shortened the food delivery time by 11% by improving delivery instructions for drivers.
Introduced the idea of using an ATS, decreasing candidate screening time by 40%.
Maintained an up-to-date employee database, making it easier to retrieve information.
Helped coordinate a yearly team-building event while staying under budget, saving the company over $3,000.
Increased sales closing rate by 13%.
Prospected and added over 200 leads to the company’s CRM.
Drove $100K in sales per year.
Designed engaging emails that increased the email open rate by 8%.
Rewrote a home page, which decreased the website’s bounce rate by 15%.
Developed customer surveys that helped identify new market segments to penetrate.
Requested and organized timesheets every month to process salaries.
Saved the company $5,000/year by reducing business expenditures.
Developed spreadsheets that cut invoice processing time down by half.
Demonstrated politeness and patience with customers, increasing positive feedback by 10%.
Resolved 23 inquiries per day on average.
Collaborated with IT to introduce a new self-service portal, which decreased customer inquiries by 20%.
You know the saying “leave your ego at the door”? Well, now is not the time for that.
Some people have a hard time identifying their achievements, but it’s probably because they’re undervaluing themselves.
And those who are able to identify their achievements might not know how to format them in a way that appeals to recruiters and hiring managers.
We’re here to solve both problems.
Here’s how to write your resume accomplishments in three simple steps:
Achievements are like opinions — everybody has (at least) one.
Think back to the proudest moments you’ve experienced in your personal life or career. This could be something you’ve diligently worked toward, or a time when you’ve exceeded all expectations.
Don’t worry about formatting it just yet — just get it out of your head and onto a document.
Categorize each achievement as personal or professional. This serves two purposes:
The category dictates what section of your resume you’ll list them under.
This shows you whether you’ve listed too many personal vs. professional achievements.
After you’ve listed your key achievements, you need to figure out if and where they fit into your resume. Of all your accomplishments, especially the personal ones, try to filter out those that aren’t in any way relevant to the role you want to get hired for.
Now, this is not to say you should exclude all accomplishments in an unrelated field. Just try to draw a connection between how the achievement helped you become better at your job. If you can’t find a connection, then drop it for now.
If you have a long list of achievements, then you should rate them by impact on a scale of 1-10. Precise accuracy doesn’t matter here. These ratings will just help you identify your top 3-5 strongest achievements. That’s enough to base your resume on.
Lastly, rank your achievements by how recent they are. As a rule of thumb, the older an achievement is, the less your resume should emphasize it.
Now comes the fun formatting part. Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you’re writing:
Mention the system or resource you improved.
Summarize your achievement in one sentence.
Use strong action verbs. For example, instead of “led X project”, you can write “spearheaded X project”.
Include numbers to back up your claims whenever possible. You can either calculate the impact by yourself, or you can ask your superiors or colleagues for an estimate. Most likely, someone has been tracking these changes. They might have even compiled this into a neat report.
Specify how long it took.
To meet all of the criteria above, you can use one of these formulas:
Improved X measurement by Y number to achieve Z benefit. Example: Helped coordinate a yearly team-building event while staying under budget, saving the company over $3,000.
Achieved X goal in Y time. Example: Hired and trained 10 new staff members over the course of 3 years.
You can reorder or combine the variables as you see fit, and even embellish your statements with some extra details.
Comparing your achievement to the company’s average or industry benchmarks.
Mentioning all stakeholders involved.
Specifying the skill set or process by which you achieved the result.
If you need some more clarity on how to fit these achievements into your resume, get inspired by these job-specific resume examples.
Your list of achievements is one of the biggest differentiators in your resume. Make sure you identify them, write them out in an appealing format, and plug them in all the right spots throughout your resume.
These simple steps will greatly increase your chances of moving into the top 2% that land a job interview.