Using Accomplishments to Set You Apart from Other Candidates

Work- or academically-related accomplishments are what set you apart from the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other candidates vying for the same position. Hiring managers know that past achievement is indicative of future performance. They also know that achievers are self-starters, motivated, and an asset to their employers.

Remember, a hiring manager will afford no more than 10 seconds to a candidate’s resume, unless they are compelled to read further. Accomplishments are what capture and retain their interest.

What is an Accomplishment?

  1. Any results-related activity that goes beyond your general job description.
  2. An achievement that is quantified with dollar figures or percentages, and time periods.
  3. Upward progression in your chosen career:
    1. Being recruited into the company to achieve specific goals (i.e. cost containment)
    2. Being promoted to positions of ever-increasing authority
  4. Work-related awards
  5. Academic scholarships
  6. Industry-specific certifications or licensure (i.e. CPA, RN, MD, bar admissions)

What is NOT an Accomplishment?

  1. Completing work you are expected to do and have been hired to do (daily tasks).
  2. Promptness.
  3. Being congenial.
  4. Any activity that cannot be quantified by dollar figures/percentages/results, attainment of an award, scholarship, certification, or other means of recognition

Do’s and Don’ts of Accomplishments:

1. Don’t write vague statements such as:

Self-starter known for completing projects on time.

The above sounds self-serving to an employer. Instead, quantify what you’ve done (using dollar figures/percentages, and time periods) and for whom.

The same accomplishment strengthened with quantifying data:

Saved Marriott International $150,000 within eight months of hire by successfully completing a reorganization plan that eliminated three unnecessary positions.

In the above, there’s no doubt about the employer (Marriott International), the cost-savings ($150,000), the time period (eight months of hire), or the means by which this was achieved (…by successfully completing a reorganization plan that eliminated three unnecessary positions.)

2. Don’t keep where you achieved these results a mystery.

All too often candidates will have superb accomplishments, and will list each and every one of them, but fail to include where they took place. Nothing is more exasperating to a hiring manager than to have to guess the where and when of an accomplishment. Nothing diminishes the effectiveness of an achievement faster than withholding important data.

Don’t write:

Salvaged a multi-million dollar account by traveling to London and resolving a large bank’s networking issues.

With the above, the hiring manager may very well wonder – what large bank? – specifically, what networking issues is this candidate referring to? – for what company was this activity undertaken? – why was travel to London necessary or required?

When an accomplishment raises more questions than it answers, it’s no longer effective, and should be revised using specific and quantified data.

3. Don’t include accomplishments that have little to do with your career goal and do not enhance your candidacy.

For example – if you were awarded an academic scholarship for the study of journalism, but are now moving into pharmaceutical sales, the inclusion of the academic award will do little to impress a hiring manager.

However, if you received a research award in Biology at the Masters’ or Ph.D. level, this will enhance your candidacy for a career move into pharmaceutical sales, especially if you have little to no professional experience in the field.