The “ABCs” of Resume Accomplishments

11/19/2019 by Alexandra Arrington

A good meal is even more enjoyable when there is care and attention placed into the details of making it. Everyone needs to eat, yet when choice isn’t particularly limited, why not have the best? Taking the necessary steps to become an employer’s candidate of choice involved submitting a résumé reflecting detailed preparation.

Properly attending to the accomplishment statement, which is a bulleted phrase that details work experience, is an important part of preparing the résumé. Unfortunately, a common practice in providing this information is merely to list responsibilities, daily duties or tasks. This typically involves dragging a sentence from a job description and plopping it haphazardly onto a résumé. There are flaws with that approach in that job responsibilities fail to do the following:

  • Reflect the actual work that is done day-to-day
  • Advertise the uniqueness of the person performing the tasks
  • Define the degree of impact a person has on the department/company

Having well-crafted statements that capture achievement and clarify the employee’s value takes the savvy individual straight to the head of the class. How, then, are grade “A” statements written that truly reflect accomplishment? There first must be a shift in how work is considered. This shift involves one’s prescribed duties becoming much more than a “to do” list, including:

  • Learning, with vigor, the business’ or department’s “pain” (i.e. the biggest or most significant problems or opportunities)
  • Looking, with intention, for ways to apply individual strengths to the role, both intra- and interpersonally
  • Tracking, with diligence, the applications of strengths and the outcomes

Demonstrating accomplishment is first about looking for ways to make an impact and consistently recording the contributions made. As for the practice of writing, some basic rules or “ABCs” of résumé accomplishment statements follow with examples:

The “C” Accomplishment Statement – This level reflects the most basic statement which only captures responsibilities, akin to a job description.

Example: Responsible for compiling and generating reports.

The previous example is from a Customer Service Representative job posting. While it can serve as a good starting place, it is a bad stopping place.

The “B” Accomplishment Statement – This level applies good phrase structure (starts with a power verb, no period at the end), quantifies the task (addresses how many/much, and how often) and answers basic journalistic questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?).

Example: Compile(d) and generate(d) six to ten financial reports monthly in Microsoft Excel for review by department leadership

The reader’s mind can start to rest concerning unanswered thoughts about what this individual really does and why.

The “A” Accomplishment Statement – The last layer uses the STAR/BAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result or Behavior-Action-Result) method to guide composition of the most compelling statements demonstrating scope AND impact.

Example: Innovated the monthly financial reporting production process for six to ten reports, considering a departmental lag in delivery times, by utilizing a free software add-on to auto-generate reports, supplying documents in preferred formatting, directly to leadership saving six labor hours ($300) per month

Drops mic. The reader is provided with information on a problem that existed for a company that this individual’s contributions helped to alleviate and thereby saving money. There is fodder for the reader to want to know more about how this accomplishment could be applied to their department or company.

A prime opportunity to entice potential employers, although many reviewers will not spend much time on a résumé, is through substantive and effective accomplishment statements. With just seconds to make an impression, positioning the reviewer to look at “A” level accomplishments ensure that the time is useful. Make a concerted effort, and perhaps utilize some professional assistance, to turn “C” level accomplishments statements into “A” level ones so that the reviewer’s few seconds turn into a few more. Once you’ve grabbed the reviewer’s attention in a meaningful way, the employer’s decision to extend the interview invitation becomes a no-brainer.