[08.02.10]
101 great comments!

How To Write A Great Accomplishment Statement

accomplishment, resume, job search, interview, career planning, how to write a, job interview, hiring manager, career planning, hiring company, job search, statement, recruitment, energy, interviews, employment, accomplishment, statements, accomplishments, tell, ear, grabs If you are regular reader, you may notice that another recent post showed someone similarly posed.  That post was about signaling strength during job interviews.  So it pictured a young boy flexing his muscles. This post is about your accomplishment statement. And it’s some pretty good career advice.

Today’s photo shows someone who has just accomplished something great.  In her case, the completion of her 365 day self portrait project that she shared on flickr.

I used this picture because writing a great accomplishment statement is just the beginning of the conversation about you.  It is the result of a story you should be telling in your marketing documents.  Stories that illustrate your impact in the world.

Writing great accomplishment statements is a key step in the new job search strategy software (Helps you find the right job faster). Have you seen the intro video?

So there’s a bigger story.  And there’s an element of passion.  An energy about your great works in prior companies.  And the better you do this, the better a hiring manager can envision you doing similar things for their department or company.

And the accomplishment statements you write are your way to engage the reader.  So that you will be granted an interview.  An audience to tell your stories and share your energy.

So they have to be good.  Well written.  They also have to be relevant and measurable.

Responsibility vs. Accomplishment

Remember not to mix them up with your responsibilities.  I shared this and other tips as part of the tutorial introducing my favorite resume and CV template.

A Great Example

So, to help you think about how to write a great accomplishment statement, I thought I would illustrate an example for you.  And then walk you through each part.  Here it is via video:

A Step-By-Step Guide:

And here is a step-by-step written out:

1.  Action: There’s a great list of action verbs at Quint Careers. You can use a few of those or think up your own.  But make sure that your leading words suggest movement, ownership and leadership.

2.  Relevant Topic: What does your target company care about?  What do you know about the role this person will play?  With a solid knowledge of your likely audience, you can focus on the right topics.

3.  Impact: You need a word here that clearly states what happened.  In this case, something got reduced. And that is a good thing.  Make sure the positive impact you had is clearly stated.

4. Key Metric: What was impacted?  Make sure that metric is also relevant and measurable in the way your industry defines it.  In an economy where budgets are heavily scrutinized, your ability to measure and report will be important.  No matter what your role is in the company.

5.  Benefit: Accomplishment statements need numbers.  Something tangible like a % increase/decrease, $ revenue up or $ cost down.  And you can strengthen the benefit by adding a second short sentence to answer the “so what” question.  In this case, you could add: “BENEFIT: Delivered new revenues 6 months sooner than expected.”  That’s a nice surprise. 

So, what if you charted out your key accomplishments like this?  Sound like a lot of work?  I’ll bet if you do it for a few, you’ll get the idea.  And have this structure in your mind as you write or re-write the rest.

What are your favorite action words?

Or better yet.

Share (via a comment below) your best accomplishment statement and I’ll give it a review.

 


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Cover Letters And Resumes
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  • Tim you always write the best articles! This was I feel was one of of the best and most important. I was looking for something like this. One of the most important aspects of creating a great resume is adding accomplishments to each job listed on the page. These days that is what Head Hunters and Recruiters are looking for. Thanks again for making it so clear.

    • Hey Max – Awesome! Thanks for that feedback. Glad to hear that I got that idea across for you!

  • Tim you always write the best articles! This was I feel was one of of the best and most important. I was looking for something like this. One of the most important aspects of creating a great resume is adding accomplishments to each job listed on the page. These days that is what Head Hunters and Recruiters are looking for. Thanks again for making it so clear.

    • Hey Max – Awesome! Thanks for that feedback. Glad to hear that I got that idea across for you!

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  • Love this post, Tim :)It takes the guesswork out of writing your own effective statements (of course that could mean I will be out of a job soon lol). Still it is valuable information and I am impressed by the way you broke it down!

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

    • Thank you, Karen! My goal in writing these posts is to enable job seekers. To educate them on good methods for writing pieces of their resume. And to give them confidence that they can play an active role in building their resumes – whether they choose to utilize a professional or try first on their own! I heartily recommend talented career experts via my career expert directory.

  • Love this post, Tim :)It takes the guesswork out of writing your own effective statements (of course that could mean I will be out of a job soon lol). Still it is valuable information and I am impressed by the way you broke it down!

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

    • Thank you, Karen! My goal in writing these posts is to enable job seekers. To educate them on good methods for writing pieces of their resume. And to give them confidence that they can play an active role in building their resumes – whether they choose to utilize a professional or try first on their own! I heartily recommend talented career experts via my career expert directory.

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  • Alison Sherwood

    Hi Tim I recently went through a HR phone interview as the first round in the process. I stumbled on a behavioral question which threw me for a loop. I managed to get something out and we moved on. When it came time for my questions I asked “is there any area in my experience or background that concerns you and if so may I clarify for you?” The HR person stated “no”. I then asked “do you see any reason why I might not advance to the second interview round” if so I would be happy to review that area with you further?” Again I was told from HR “I see no reason why you should not be successful in securing a second interview.” Well I did not get a second interview. I asked HR to elaborate on this as they had cited the pat answer “someone else with education experience…” I received further feedback when I asked this is what I received.
    ——————-“I am happy to provide you with some additional feedback for future interviews, if that is what would be helpful to you. I should also let you know that I did complete a large number of phone interviews and we have shortlisted to two candidates for the next round of interviews.
    You did seem well-prepared for our discussion but perhaps (quite) nervous in the telephone interview setting (which I believe you even mentioned to me). Telephone interviews can be difficult because you are missing the person-to-person piece of the conversation and the visual cues that would be there if we had met in person.
    Your desire to work at the Foundation and in non-profit did come across over the phone well and I was impressed with your background in administration and problem solving skills. Where I did struggle was that some of your responses were not concise and as a result you missed the key points of the questions.
    I would like to see you succeed in future interviews, below are a few suggestions to keep top of mind when answering interview questions:
    Practice – research questions and write the answers to them in advance and then practice answering them with a friend – your friend can use your answer sheet to guide you.
    Be concise: this is so important; briefly describe the situation you were in or the task that needed to be accomplished – ensure the interviewer understands your contribution.
    Action – describe the actions you took to accomplish the task.
    Result – describe the results of the effort. Lessons learned etc.
    Check-in – “did that answer your question?”
    I wish you the best of luck in your job search. We will certainly keep your resume on file should we need to expand our search.
    If you have any additional questions please let me know.” ——————————

    This seems kind of contradictory as first they state education and experience as being the reason then tell me they are impressed with my background and preparation then tell me I missed key questions. Which was only 1 question in which I did badly fumble.

    Wondering what your take is on this situation. Appreciate it. Great information btw.

    • Hi Alison – Based on my experience, hiring managers and HR folks are very hesitant to answer the question you asked. Because it is a no-win question for them. If they don’t like you, it would be a great time to let you go with helpful feedback. But most don’t want to do that.

      If they do like you, there is a hesitation to share that too early in the process – before meeting other candidates. They fear losing the edge in negotiation (if an offer is possible) and of showing their cards too early.

      The question also puts a hiring manager on the defensive and makes them uncomfortable. Partly because they are still not sure what they are looking for (and your question shines a big light on that). And partly because it can be seen by some as a forward/intrusive question.

      So don’t be surprised if you get a lukewarm or vague response. In the end, if they like you, they will call you. Tell great stories, display a genuine interest in the position and bring your experience and accomplishments to life in a way that a hiring manager can see benefits in choosing YOU!

      Good luck and thanks for such a great question. 🙂

    • Suzanne

      Alison, I’m amazed that you got such detailed, helpful feedback from the HR person. That is really rare. Thank you for sharing it.

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  • Excellent advice as always, Tim.

    Another strategy to lend credibility to achievement statements in your resume and career biography is to include a quote from someone who supported you or worked with you towards the result, preferrably a superior.

    Imagine the impact if a senior leader at your company speaks to how your great achievement benefitted the company! Helps to generate chemistry for how you make things happen.

    Best,
    Meg

    • Thanks Meg – The key in your point is having a senior leader make that statement. Someone with credibility. And, hopefully, that person can also be available as a reference to reinforce and drive home the value you added in that role. Appreciate your adding that idea!

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  • Thanks for the interesting post Tim. This sounds like a great start-up idea. A lot of these companies online don’t give the best quality. I look forward to reading more from you in the

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  • Suzanne

    Hi Tim — 2 questions. 
    1) One of the reasons I’m still un[der]employed is that I didn’t track my accomplishments in the past.  I’m going to act on Karen Siwak’s storytelling ideas and re-examine my experiences. Maybe in the process I’ll discover some accomplishments. Do you have any other recommendations? 2) One time I remember making an impact was when I reorganized the group of lowest-level workers so that they were self-organizing and communicated clearly with the director. They were doing their work all right before, but the director didn’t trust them and the group felt bad about the director. Unfortunately this story lies too far in my past to be used (about 20 years — yeah, I’m not 44 any more). But is there some way I could use that story as an accomplishment even without any time or money benefits?Thanks,Suzanne 

    • Suzanne

      Clarification on question 2):
      After I reorganized the group, the director trusted the group and had clear information about their progress earlier, and the group members were more confident, more cooperative, and more orderly. When my new system had taken solid hold, I stopped working with the group and went back to my front-line microscope. 

    • Hi Suzanne – It is hard to build them from memory.  I realize that!  But it can be done through an interview process.  If you want to get in touch I can help you with that part.  In addition to remembering key ways you made an impact, you can also try to remember positive events in the company’s history and attach work that you did to that accomplishment.  You should always have a benefit to any accomplishment.  Without one, people will just read it and think: “so what”.

    • Suzanne

      Thanks, Tim!

    • Wow Tim! This one little comment of yours shined more light on my quest to quantify my past accomplishments! “remember positive events in the company’s history and attach work that you did to that accomplishment.”

      That one tidbit just opened up a huge door for me! Thank you!

      And for anyone out there struggling with quantifying your past because 1) you never bothered to track accomplishments or 2) you worked for startups that failed or products that failed, I offer my epiphany here for your consideration.

      I’ve found it hard to imagine the value I created or the contribution I made when the company went under or things didn’t go as planned. This is my biggest source of intimidation in my spotty, generalist career story. But I submit: I produced a redesign of our website and branding that contributed to the company’s acquisition by a competitor. [I’ll have to work on the key metric language, but it’s way better than “finished the website in time for the company to dissolve…”]

      And iterations/failing fast are now the fashion in start-ups so I also have: “Conducted an exhaustive market survey that demonstrated a complete lack of traction for the company’s vision, providing justification for killing the product line and focusing on another line of business.”

      Sometimes a failure can lead to an even bigger success, and that is also an accomplishment!

      Cheers!

    • Glad to help you pull something out of the hat!  And, yes, it is hard to find successful events in failure.  Bet there is always something . . .

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  • @csteckb

    Tim – great post, helpful for consultants as well. Thanks!

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  • Maha

    Great article and your advise is easy to implement.

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  • Diana

    I love reading articles like that but it so hard to put it down what you did. 🙁 Its like you need a writer that can help you with it.

    • Hi Diana – Fair point. It’s not easy to do this, I understand. If you have anyone in your life who can write, perhaps they can help? Hopefully this was at least able to point you in the right direction?

  • Kirstie Marquette

    Informative suggestions ! I Appreciate the information – Does someone know where my business might be able to acquire a sample a form example to edit ?


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