In previous posts, we’ve demonstrated the effect a professionally written accomplishment can have on your resume. Clearly highlighted and dynamically written accomplishments facilitate resume skimming and ensure that your achievements get readers’ attention. But what if your achievements aren’t quantifiable? What if you haven’t been managing million-dollar projects, generating triple-digit sales growth, or increasing the size of a critical team? This doesn’t mean your accomplishments are any less impressive or important. Here are 3 before-and-after examples to show you how to make your own unique achievements stand out.
Did a variety of tasks on several software development projects, which helped provide experience in this new area.
Gained thorough knowledge of complete SDLC by serving as team member on 5 key development initiatives.
If you’re starting out in a new field, you can highlight what you’ve learned — and how — as an accomplishment. In the Before example, “did a variety of tasks” is weak and ineffective; you don’t necessarily have to detail every task you undertook, but you can write it in a way that more strongly shows the level of your participation. In the After example, “did a variety of tasks” has been transformed into “serving as team member.” The After example also follows the golden rule of accomplishment-writing: effect first, then cause. Your new expertise in the full SDLC is what you want to call out here.
A note on acronyms: If an acronym is common in your field and, most importantly, in the field in which you’re applying for a job, you don’t have to spell it out. If, however, you suspect your readers will be unfamiliar with the acronym, spell it out the first time you use it and put the acronym in parentheses: software development life cycle (SDLC).
I earned a reputation for making good impressions with potential new customers. Many told us they chose our business because of the relationships they had with me.
Contributed to growing customer base by forging strong relationships with potential new clients.
The first-person pronouns (“I earned,” “with me”) strike a note that’s too casual and informal here. But the biggest problem is that the actual accomplishment isn’t clear. You made good impressions — so what? What was the effect? Clarifying the cause and effect solidifies what you contributed and emphasizes how your relationship-building skills benefited the business.
The time for responding to customer inquiries was reduced with a new system I developed for managing queries from phone and email.
Accelerated customer inquiry response time by developing and implementing process improvements to facilitate phone- and email-based query management.
Once again, the After example provides the effect up front — “Accelerated customer inquiry response time” — which shows immediately what you contributed. The how of it — process improvements — then follows. The other tip-off that the Before example needs a makeover is the use of the passive voice — “was reduced.” Passive voice obfuscates the actor, leaving readers with the question “by whom or what?” Always steer clear of passive voice when crafting your accomplishments. Active voice is much more effective.
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