Many students and alumni (and let’s be honest, anyone writing a resume) struggle to effectively describe their accomplishments. Today, I want to share my favorite strategies on how to enhance your accomplishment statements to showcase your skills and achievements.
The hardest part of developing a resume is determining what to include in the bullet points under the Experience section. The most important thing to remember here is that this is not the place to list everything you have ever done. Instead, focus on specific accomplishments that highlight the skills that are most relevant to your target job. Let’s break that last sentence down a bit:
- Accomplishments: Don’t include “other duties as assigned”; accomplishment statements need to show your reader how you made a difference.
- Skills: Include your transferable skills from prior work or volunteer experiences such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving.
- Relevant to target job: Your resume is a marketing tool. If some of your job duties and accomplishments are not relevant in any way to your job target, remove them.
Now, you might be saying, “That’s great, but I don’t know how to write those accomplishment statements!” Let me introduce you to my favorite tool on our website, the Marketing Yourself button. You will find it under the Resumes and More tab, on the left-hand side.
As you will see under the Marketing Yourself section, an effective accomplishment statement has three components: an action verb, specific details, and a result. The Marketing Yourself section highlights each of these pieces and their importance for your statements. As we examine them here, let’s discuss how we can further enhance the following statement:
“Responsibilities included working outpatient care, low-income populations, crisis intervention prevention, mental health facilities.”
Action verbs help to showcase the specific skills you want to highlight. Therefore, your accomplishment statements should always start with an action verb. Fortunately, under the Marketing Yourself button, you will find a handy list of action verbs. Use these verbs to brainstorm what you would like to communicate to an employer. For example, our sample accomplishment statement starts with “responsibilities included.” One way to make the accomplishment stronger is to start with a strong action verb. What does this person want to show? That they provided outpatient care? Managed outpatient care? Choose the action verb that best highlights the skill.
The second way to improve an accomplishment statement is to include specific details. Details provide context and help your reader understand the scope of your experience. For our example, they could include the number of mental health facilities they worked in or the specific type of crisis intervention prevention they provided.
Finally, an accomplishment statement needs to include a result. What was the outcome or difference that you made, or the impact of your actions? When including an accomplishment statement, also think to yourself, “why is this important?” For example, it is important that low-income populations are provided with mental health services.
Now, let’s take a look at our original example, “Responsibilities included working outpatient care, low-income populations, crisis intervention prevention, mental health facilities.” After we incorporate an action verb, details, and finally a result, we have a much stronger statement:
“Provided outpatient care and crisis intervention prevention services at three mental health facilities ensuring low-income populations had access to services.”
This accomplishment is now much stronger and is ready to be added to the Experience section of a resume.
Finally, I challenge you to work on strengthening you own accomplishment statements on your resume! If you need additional support, I invite you to review the Resumes & More tab or schedule a career advising appointment for resume feedback over the phone or Zoom.
Written by Katy Peper, Internship Advisor