Perhaps the one clear, consistent, and constant piece of advice about resume writing is: You must highlight your accomplishments.
And if you read the average resume, you are bound to see bullet points all over the place, touting so-called accomplishments. Great, you think! Here’s a template for writing about my achievements!
The problem? A lot of resumes contain what I call “accomplishment-like” statements. These are bullet points, introduced with verbs and purportedly describing achievements. Yet, when you read and try to understand them, you come away with a sense of … “Huh? What did this person really do? What’s the result? Where’s the meat?”
In other words, the resume is a “lite” version of the meaty, meaningful document it should be and could be.
Here’s an example:
- Met sales and business development goals by identifying opportunities and driving them to completion.
Sounds great! But what did you really do? Perhaps …
- Reached 100% of sales goals every quarter for 3 years.
- Delivered $11M in new revenue in 2017 by identifying and closing 6 new opportunities.
When you provide details and specifics, your resume becomes more meaningful and more memorable. Consider the difference:
- Improved efficiency and productivity by redesigning processes and establishing performance expectations.
- Reduced customer wait time 20% – without adding staff – by redesigning processes to improve staff efficiency and productivity.
- Set specific performance expectations and led team in reaching them 50 out of 52 weeks during 2016.
As you’re writing your bullet points, dig deep to uncover the real accomplishment and don’t settle for accomplishment-like statements. You want your resume to be a heavyweight contender, not a lightweight!
Thank you for making this clear to job hunters!! They really need to know the difference. When I interview my clients, I ask for numbers and percentages to quantify achievements.
I hate the bullet point resume as my field (policy/advocacy) doesn’t contain quantifiable achievements as the work is fairly process driven. And when I dig into my brain for those things that are accomplishments, following general description (as recommended by my career coach) my resume becomes 3-4 pages long OR shorter but with font so small no one can read it!
Must I have bullet points???? I hate my resume as revised and it has not gotten me any interviews or calls.
Maureen – you do not HAVE to have bullet points! They do tend to make it easier for people to read your resume because they divide the information into easily absorbable “bites.” It’s true that some professions don’t lend themselves to hard results, but if you focus on challenges you faced, what you did about them, and the outcomes/benefits, you may find more specific items to mention in your resume. I’d be glad to look at your resume and give you some feedback.