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How to List Accomplishments on Your Resume

Posted By: Staff Editor In: Job Seeker - Resume

When it comes to listing accomplishments and achievements on our resumes, many of us simply don't know where to begin. I know that, for me at least, it's hard to know what counts as an achievement. After all, isn't doing your job and being good at it an achievement? It is – but it needs to be quantified in a way that an interviewer can understand.


There is a lot of confusion about how to list accomplishments and what exactly counts as an achievement. If you're lost, here are some tips to help you out:


Lose the modesty – When you're trying to market yourself to an employer, it isn't the time to be modest. Heck, if there was ever a time to “blow your own horn” - this is it! When thinking about a past job, write down what you did to help the company. From there, you need to come up with a way to measure your success. If you saved them time or money, write down how much you saved. By giving the reader a way to quantify your accomplishment, you make it easier for them to see why they should hire you. Remember – you are marketing yourself as a solution to their problems, which isn't the same thing as bragging.


Use performance reviews to jog your memory – Sometimes we get so busy working that we don't stop to realize how good we are at it. Everything is a journey, and with a skill it can be hard to see how far you've come. In order to get a more objective look at your career potential, look at old performance reviews in order to see what you have been consistently praised for and what skills have been important to your success. Be sure to list these accomplishments.


Only list professional awards – If you were awarded “Employee of the Month” or received an award for perfect attendance, you can list these on your resume as well. Doing things like being good at your job, getting along with your co-workers and even taking college course at night are certainly personal accomplishments, but they aren't professional ones – so don't list them.


Avoid using company jargon – When explaining your job responsibilities and accomplishments, avoid using abbreviations or company jargon. The person reading your resume (often someone who works in Human Resources) might not be familiar with the job and won't understand what you are talking about. It's best to explain things using language that's straight forward and easy to understand. During the interview, you can give a more in-depth explanation.


Sometimes marketing can feel like lying, but it isn't. In fact, it's never a good idea to exaggerate the facts or lie on your resume, especially in your previous job descriptions. There is a huge difference between mentioning why you are good at what you do and creating an alternate reality. Exaggerating might help you get the job but it will cause your new employer to give you responsibilities that you aren't ready for yet which can lead to poor job performance and even termination. So please – market responsibly.


How do you list accomplishments on your resume? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image source: MorgueFile




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Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
@joanne - Using past reviews gives you a measurable way to show what you can do. It's great that you've saved them.@Ellen - good luck with your job change!
Posted by: Debbie P
Very helpful. Thanks
Posted by: Joanne B
These are very helpful tips. I was stumped on where to begin with accomplishments and how my employer see's me. Looking up old reviews was the anwser! Thank you!
Posted by: Ellen SnyderD
I think this is good information because I am in the market for either career or just job change and trying to update resume, I need help
Posted by: Sylvia C
Helpful information! Thanks
Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
Thanks for the great comments. @elanor - it's amazing when you start writing things down how much you have.@Raymond - I'm sure that the work you do makes you better and will help you as you take the next step in your career, even if it doesn't do much now.@Louis, I'd say that it's better to put the most relevant information as high on the list as possible, knowing that it might only get a 10 second skim through.
Posted by: eleanor j
Your right I didnt realize how much i had actually done on  my job until i started to write down my qualifications for enterviews.
Posted by: Mary Ann J
I would take issue with stating that "doing your job and being good at it' are achievements.  That's a minimum expectation.  But perhaps that is a generational difference.
Posted by: Nyugha C
I think you made some valuable points. Expressing accomplishments with stats gives the employer a better way to compare one resume from the other
Posted by: Raymond N
Being a QA Software Tester this was not very helpful to me because; most of my potential employment assignment are simply looking for a tester with specific software experience at the lowest hourly rate. So I find myself contently teach myself  new software tools at my expense to find employment - welcome to the Technology Treadmill!
Posted by: Adelaida Marcano R
Great tips! Thanks so much
Posted by: Theresa P
I need to update my resume.
Posted by: Gabriele H
Very true and useful advise - especially about the 'marketing' - I only advertise my real achievements, not some 'made-up' ones.Thanks for your article!
Posted by: Ted M
Where would you recommend positioning the quote from a former employer/boss?
Posted by: philip k
Superb Excellent. I will do that ASAP
Posted by: Sookie D
I think this article is awesome, so very helpful and encouraging at the same time.  I don't know if I can ask a question here but I was wondering if it is possible to "convert" (for lack of better word)  accomplishments from one industry to the next.  And if so, how would one do that?Thanks
Posted by: Justin W
I have thought about this each time I go to update my resume. To quantify and qualify my accomplishments years after the fact requires some guesstimation. My fear is that a prospective employer might contact a past employer who might have issue with my estimate, making me look bad.
Posted by: Crina C.
I am grateful for your articles. I've been looking through my performance reviews and even though my boss has given me positive feedback in a check box format he hasn't made any comments other than proposing a salary increase.I would appreciate if you could please advise a good format for a functional resume? I've been out of work for the last few years (for good reasons) and now, I have a hard time figuring out how to get employers look at my past accomplishments before dismissing my application for gap in work history. Thanks in advance.
Posted by: Stephanie R. M
Another good tip!
Posted by: Nick M
I find I have to rewrite my resume (in the Professional Summary) to match the job position I am Applying for, I don't change the places I have worked nor what I accomplished.
Posted by: Louis D
I have many accomplishments in bullet form on my resume.  My question is, do you put the list on the first page or near the end?  Keep in mind that your resume may only get a 10 second review so if the accomplishments are not meaningful to the employer you just wasted his time.Louis  
Posted by: raoul p
Very helpful.  Thank you.
Posted by: Debora M
Very informative information. Was really useful.
Posted by: bennie de b
llisting courses taken on free time should be listed.  It givesthe employer a sense of your passions or interest.  Greatexagerration will backfire.  Truth js always a safe path toexplore.
Posted by: Vince G
Very good article and very useful. I am a job developer for homeless adults and this explains the resume in a way they can understand and use. Great job!
Posted by: david v
I have always felt resumes should include pictures Remember they are worth a thousand words. I could really impress if I was surrounded with all of my awards
Posted by: Stephanie R
Grest advise. Thank you..
Posted by: William T
Thank you for the Tips and I think it would be better for me if you could give some examples of good resume. My profession is Master Electrician. More power!
Posted by: Arun Kumar S
We have receive good suggestion .But we have require how can make better resume for market requirement for better job in accounts & Finance Job.
Posted by: Leonida J
You have a good point!  Thumbs up for you!
Posted by: Alisa R
Sounds good but what would I put on my resume if I am 64 yrs. old, have raised my kids and want to go back to work?  I still type about 65 wpm. and am computer literate.
Posted by: Stacey P
I've only had "average", low-income jobs paying less than $18k per year. I have not had any "accomplishments" in my jobs other than receiving "Employee of the Month" for two of them. The only real accomplishments I have had were my college degrees and "non-professional" accomplishments. How can I promote myself when I have nothing to brag about?
Posted by: edna r
This is one of the few times I actually navigated to to some of the links your emails.  I must say that I am very impressed with the information provided.  I will be looking for more of your emails and their content.
Posted by: CORY W
This is a great tip, but formatting would be better, and when is it too much?
Posted by: David J. D
These are great tips.  I've been in IT Management for 15 years and am looking to break into the hotel industry and looking to relocate.  Can you provide some specific guidance?
Posted by: Nathan W
Great tips, thanks so much!
Posted by: Dove L
This is helpful...
Posted by: Philip K
I HAVE DONE THIS ALREADY PRETTY MUCH. My biggest concern is format that's user and reader friendly. Whats your suggestion? What font size and stlye is preferred? can a resume ever exceed a single page?
Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
Thanks for the comments. @Daniel, In the U.S, it's not customary to include credit information with your resume. If the employer requires a background or credit check, it will be discussed during the interview.@Yvette, good luck with your job search!
Posted by: Mark N
Well written but the content for most part useless.
Posted by: Ali ASghar A
Dear Sir; Thanks for the great comments Melissa! I agree no matter how good is your resume, age is very important as far as I concern.where is the best resume? I haven't seen yet.Please send me best Construction Manager Resume / Civil Engineer as soon as possible. Thank You very much.
Posted by: Daniel C
Good tips. How is it that employers can look at your work history and match it up with your resume but there isn't a place for finances, bills, or credit history. I would think that should be implemented in a resume, once the employer chooses to interview someone it should be on both the employer and employees mind that the job is being fitted with not only the best candidate for the job, but someone who needs it in hard times.
Posted by: Yvette W
This is very informative for me because I am having  a problem with how to word my resume with my one casheir job that I have been on for years.
Posted by: Raymond G
Well for real i didn't think that that was all that important, because really i was thinking that all an employer wanted to see was the fact that you have worked and that you do have a work history, on my resume i have jobs that i have worked and the responsibilities of the job, also in the education section, i have some accomplishments and that i am currently a student at a C C, and in the experience section i have that i completed OSHA in 2008, hopefully i am saying enough and not too much on my resume, but i want to thank you because i am going to use these tools that you have provided me with.
Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
Thanks for the great comments! @Marielle - I think that while taking college courses is a great thing to do, it should be listed in the education section of your resume and you can certainly mention it during the interview. Hiring managers will see it as a plus, but it's still not an achievement in the traditional sense.@Israel - Remember that your resume is simply a marketing tool designed to make an employer want to find out more about you. You can save copies of performance reviews and so on to put in a portfolio or brag book and bring to the interview. However, I don't think that they should be included with a resume.Please keep in mind that these are general tips and depending on your industry or the position you're applying for, your mileage may vary.
Posted by: Israel T
Great imput!, could you please add a little bit more on the chronology that should be followed while listing the achievements?... Is it also ideal to include the copies of the performance reviews, extension of contract or promotion documents themselves?...thank you a lot in advance!!
Posted by: Robert W. C
Better, But, still a little general.
Posted by: Marielle M
I liked what you said about dropping the modesty.  You were right to tell people to think about what they did to save time or money and explain those things. However I did not agree with your statement regarding taking college courses at night. Taking college courses at night is relevant it is important to include in the resume. Employers want to hire people who are learning. This is very important.  
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