Achievement statements are a way of listing your expertise on a resume to attract a readers’ attention. They are small case-studies, really, that show-case both your skills and your effectiveness. They’re ideal for those with too wide a variety of experience to fit comfortably on a few pages, and probably more likely to tempt a reader to look at your resume carefully. At worst, their novelty makes them interesting. At best, they state very clearly what you have to offer.
If you decide to use achievement statements, divide a sheet of paper or a text file in a word processor into three columns. Label these columns “What,” “How,” and “Results.”
Then think of things you’ve done that have made you happy or proud. Ideally, these accomplishments should be about business, but you should also consider events connected with family, school, or volunteer activities, especially if they highlight a desirable trait that might help you to get hired.
For each accomplishment, state what you have done in the What column. To keep the statement short, start with the past participle of a strong verb (for instance, “created” or “organized.” Then summarize what the accomplishment consisted of.
Then, in the How column, write what you did in order to achieve the accomplishment. Again, use the past participles of strong verbs.
Finally, in the Results column, use the same structure to explain what happened as the result of your efforts. In many ways, this column is the most important part, because well, it suggests reasons why someone reading your resume might want to hire you. At the very least, it gives readers and interviewers a point in your favor about which they might want to ask more details.
For these reasons, make your results as specific as possible. For example, giving figures where possible is more effective than a general statement. Readers are going to be more impressed by “increased sales 65%” rather than just “increased sales.” Sometimes, though, you won’t have the figures, and have to make do with what you have.
Then repeat this process for each accomplishment that occurs to you. If you can get a colllection of twenty or thirty, you’ll have all the statements you need to match them to any job for which you are likely to reply.
Some finished achievement statements from my own resume preparations:
- Consulted on policy decisions as Contributing Editor by senior editors at one of top 3 Linux magazines. Wrote two regular columns, technical articles and reviews; advised on individual issues and articles. Results: Wrote 4-6 pages per issue of 90 page magazine. Magazine increased circulation by 56% in 8 months.
- Set direction of first software product for startup company. Researched and wrote competitive analyses; set feature list; created branding campaign. Results: Company met production deadline with a competitive product. Company praised for its advertising and corporate philosophy by reviewers and customers.
- Corrected serious flaws in a company’s first software product. Found flaws while installing software at home; explained problems to company principles; prevented new employee from becoming scapegoat; coordinated emergency effort to correct problem over Christmas. Results: Problem corrected before product shipped. Company avoided sales loss due to negative publicity. QA and programming work methods revised.
- Negotiated bundling deals for retail product. Researched potential partners; discussed terms with third parties; advised lawyer on licensing issues and contract terms. Results: Product’s appeal enhanced and remained within budget per unit.
- Developed and supervised branding campaign for new company and first software product. Originated concept; worked with design company; planned ad placement; negotiated ad rates; planned trade fair activities; liaised with customer base, partners ,& media; wrote ad copy, newsletters, and public statements. Results: In 4 months, company was regularly regarded by media as one of top 6 in a field of 20 companies.
You can place five or six of these achievement statements on the front page of your resume, with your work experience on the second page. If you choose the statements well, not only will readers have read a page of your resume – an investment of time that will encourage them to read the rest – but, before they have read the details of your career, they will be thinking of you according to the perspectives that you have chosen – and that can’t hurt in any job-hunting situation.