Résumé Hacks: One thing that can take your résumé to the next level

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Whether you call it your résumé or your CV, I know that it looks great. You’ve showed it to a couple of people who think it’s great too. However there is one thing you can add that will take your résumé from great to amazing: achievements.

In recent years, achievement-based résumés have grown in popularity. An achievement-based résumé shifts the focus from your duties and responsibilities to your accomplishments. A quote from Eboni T.’s Brainstorming your way to an accomplishment-based résumé captures the benefits of this format:

“When searching for a new position, your “above and beyond” accomplishments are exactly what set you apart from dozens, perhaps hundreds, of equally qualified candidates.”

With that said, hiring managers still have a preference for the more traditional, reversed-chronological résumé, where duties and responsibilities are clearly listed.

The best of both worlds

Instead of reworking your entire résumé, I propose adding an achievement for each job you have listed. With this approach, you are keeping with the traditional format but you are also bringing in the human element of who you are and what you have achieved – that you are a person beyond your résumé. After interviewing thousands of candidates over the years, I can say with conviction that everyone brings something special to the table. It’s about figuring out what your angle is and stating it in a concise and professional manner.

Achievements draw a hiring manager’s attention because it shows that you don’t only think of punching in and punching out. It demonstrates an awareness for your surroundings, the business, your colleagues and/or your customers. It says that you care about adding value to people’s lives, and that is a very attractive quality in a potential employee.

A quick note: be sure to avoid aggrandizing your achievements. If your CEO asked to borrow your stapler once, writing “Provided essential support to the CEO at a critical time” is not false, however it’s really overstating the interaction. Your achievements will definitely attract attention, so expect to elaborate on them in the interview.

What are some examples of achievements?

For many people, your achievements will be obvious: you implemented a process or system or you found a way to increase revenue or to save the company money. Perhaps you created a new product or you traveled to set up a new facility in another city or country. All of these represent amazing accomplishments that you will recognize right away as one of the defining achievements for a particular position.

For others however, it may be a bit more subtle: perhaps you are early in your career or as you are going about your day-to-day, you don’t think you are doing anything particularly noteworthy. You are probably taking some neat initiatives that you don’t notice because it comes so naturally. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Do people from other departments often come to see you for questions? Do people ask you how processes work in your department? Then you are probably someone who has strong internal customer service skills and are seen as the go-to person in your department.
  • Are you good with systems such as Excel and you master programs quickly? Have you automated anything or created templates to make things easier for your colleagues or your customers? Then you value efficiency and accuracy by using these skills to save time and reduce errors.
  • Do errors or typos stand out to you? Or maybe you are always making documents more appealing? Do your colleagues or your boss ask you to be the final reviewer when submitting a quarterly report or a before big presentation? Then you demonstrate your teamwork with your strong attention to detail and ensure that everything is presented to perfection.
  • Do other managers complain that their teams don’t listen or that they have to micromanage, and this isn’t a problem for you? Do you consider your team to be greater than the sum of its parts? Then you definitely have strong leadership skills and you mentor and mobilize your team well.

There are many achievements both big and small that highlight our unique traits and help us to stand out from the crowd. What are some of yours?

Putting it all together

The best part about incorporating achievements is that they are a quick and easy addition to your résumé and their benefits far outweigh the time and effort you put in.

I would recommend adding your achievement(s) right after your company and your title, and right before listing your key responsibilities. Be sure that the spacing and overall layout is clean, that it’s contained within the pages and that your spelling is on point. If you haven’t updated your résumé in a while, you can check out my other article Résumé Hacks: Upgrade your résumé in 30 minutes or less.

I hope this article has helped you to think about your wonderful achievements in a new light and that they will spark some interesting discussions that will set you apart from the rest during your next interview.