Your Professional Achievements

When you start a job search, you will quickly notice that the employers and the HR managers both look for similar things when they review resumes, i.e. unique tangible value, supported by solid examples of quantifiable and qualitative achievements and accomplishments. There is no data on your resume more important than your achievements and accomplishments. Think about it that there is one position to fill up and there is queue of ten qualified candidates clamoring for that position. Each of the candidates has the same basic educational and professional background. However, the candidate who contributed the most at his prior employments takes the trophy home. Professional accomplishments are all that separate you from other equally qualified candidates.

Differentiating Achievements from Responsibilities

Achievements are the factors that really help you sell yourself to an employer. You can make the most of your accomplishments for job-search success at all stages of the process, that is, resume, cover letter, interview and further. Nowadays, resumes are expected to focus not only on regular job descriptions, but are also expected to include concrete and measurable accomplishments. Accomplishments and achievements are far more important than duties and responsibilities. It is surprising to know that a great number of clients are unable to formulate their achievements beyond the day-to-day tasks they performed in their jobs. A proper resume should be accomplishment-oriented, not responsibility-driven. The biggest mistake that people make is that they list their job responsibilities rather than mentioning the achievements. They overlook the fact that the employers already know the general responsibilities of a position and that what they really want to know is that if you have been a real mover and a shaker in your previous employment or not. In short, if a job activity cannot be portrayed as an achievement or accomplishment, it may not be worth mentioning in your resume, cover letter, or in an interview.

What Is An Achievement And What Is Not

Basically, professional achievements have three elements: what you did, how you did it, and the outcome of what you did for your company. There is a very thin line between achievements and the daily job responsibilities. To explain it further, we can take a few examples of the things, which cannot be termed as an achievement: daily responsibilities that are included in your job description, regular attendance at work, getting along with co-workers, working full-time while going to college at night and volunteering for community service, unless it has a direct bearing on your job search etc. On the other hand, the factors that ‘can’ be termed as a professional achievement are: increasing the company’s bottom line, facilitating its growth, streamlining procedures, promotions, special projects completed successfully, decreasing costs, company or industry-sponsored awards and certificates.

Quantified Accomplishments

Your accomplishments and achievements must be quantified and measurable. Your resume provides prospective employers with a glimpse into your professional life. What they are looking for is your potential to serve their needs in an effective, rather a definable way. When you quantify accomplishments or your achievements in your resume, you speak the language that employers want to hear. To quantify accomplishments means using facts and figures to define your successes in your profession. Using numbers and figures helps explain (in concrete terms) how you benefited your last employer. When you put a number to your accomplishments, you begin to get the approval of hiring managers.

Resume And Action Verbs

Do not let your cover letter or resume leave your hands until you have described your accomplishments, skills and experiences, using these key action verbs. Action verbs should be used abundantly, however, wisely, throughout your resume and cover letters to promote your achievements, as they help make a strong impression. Remember to use these action verbs in writing your resume and cover letters to increase the strength of your writing, and make potential employers take notice of your accomplishments and skills better. There is a long list of action verbs available on the internet. Whenever you are preparing your resume, go through these words and try to put a suitable number of these words in it.

How To Go About Describing Your Achievements

It is disappointing as to how many people cannot describe their achievements in their resumes, in order to maximize its impact. Whether it is in a resume or in a job interview, your ability to describe your achievements is a critically important factor for success.
The first step is to point out the actual achievements in your professional life. You should ask these questions to yourself: in your previous jobs, what special things did you do to set yourself apart? How did you do the job better than anyone else did, or anyone else could have done? What did you do to make each job your own? How did you take the initiative, and how did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?
When you finally get the opportunity to talk about what you have achieved, it proves to be an opportunity you would not want to waste. Following are keys guidelines on describing your achievements for maximum impact.

Involvement in the Achievement

Clarify your personal involvement in the achievement you made. Use powerful words that describe your contribution. Some examples are, ‘created’, ‘reorganized’ or ‘established’. On the other hand, ‘did’, ‘performed’ or ‘was involved in’ are passive expressions and do not indicate your level of involvement in your accomplishment.
Thoroughly Describe Your Achievements

Describe the start, middle and end of your accomplishment. Mention the starting conditions, such as ‘poor performance’, ‘high costs’, ‘unpalatable risk’, and follow with a statement on what you made happen (the project, change initiative, etc.), and cap it off with the result – was the desired outcome achieved?

Quantify the Achievements

As explained earlier, try to use numbers and hard measures in your achievements. For example, say ’saved Rs.50,000′ rather than ’saved operating costs’. The more specific you are, the greater will be the value of your statement of achievement. Also, in almost all cases, a percentage value has a higher impact than an absolute number. In some cases, what might look like a minor achievement, when quantified, could be a major one as perceived by others.

Personal Awards and Certificates

Indicate your personal award and certificates in the achievement section. Some achievements come with special rewards, so try to mention them. If you were promoted or awarded, or if you received a bonus, add it into your statement of achievement.

Details of Challenging Circumstances

Include details of challenging circumstances in your resume achievements. If the achievement was a tough target due to business events or conditions, make sure that you mention it. It is important to describe any challenges you faced in your professional life. For instance, if there were many layoffs in your organization, whilst you were tasked with improving team morale, make these conditions clear.

State the Effect of the Achievement from Others’ Point of View

Describe the achievement not just from your own perspective; also describe what it meant for your colleagues, subordinates, management and customers (where appropriate). Do not forget to quantify the effect received from each of these groups of people as well.