Focus resume on your results, not daily tasks

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By Ramsey Penegar

What seems more interesting: a laundry list of all the menial daily tasks and functions you performed at each and every job OR well-written, action statements illustrating the impact of your accomplishments?

For example, a receptionist or executive assistant résumé may state “I answered the phones” OR “Monitored and managed more than 1,500 weekly telephone calls from customers, vendors, media, and contractors for 750 staff members for largest architectural firm in New Jersey.”

An example for a sales manager may be: “Hired, managed, and trained sales representatives” OR “Recruited, hired, managed, mentored, and motivated more than 120 sales representatives to develop customer service and sales skills resulting in more than $1.5 million in sales revenue.”

An interview-landing résumé doesn’t just tell what you did or know how to do (task-oriented), it illustrates how well you did those things (accomplishment oriented). Recruiters and hiring managers want to know and see hardcore facts, figures, numbers. This type of information should be indicative of your entire career, not just job by job.

From your résumé, the hiring manager already has a general idea of the tasks and responsibilities involved in the jobs you have held. What he or she wants to know is how your skills and experience impacted the bottom line for the company. The recruiting manager wants to know what the job seeker has done to enhance operations, boost revenues, bolster profits, decrease operating costs, improve business processes, save time, increase productivity, and or advance technologies.

An accomplishment oriented résumé is what sells the reader on your personal and professional value. Rather than a laundry list of daily duties, functions, and job responsibilities, this type of résumé demonstrates, in writing, how your expertise in doing those tasks benefited the company.

An easy formula for this is AARQ (“Ark”):

  • Action – What was the action you took or initiated to make a difference in results?
  • Accomplishments & Results – What did your actions accomplish at the end of the project, year, etc?
  • Quantify – Now incorporate the numbers and statistics into your story by quantifying the resulting impact on the company

Here’s an example from a recent client:

  • What action did you take? Managed revenue budget.
  • What was the result of this action? Exceeded revenue goals and increased revenue.
  • Can you quantify the action or result? Managed $77 million revenue budget, exceeded revenue goals, increased revenue by 38%

You then take all of that and put it on your résumé as such:

  • Managed $77 million revenue budget for third party marketing products, continually exceeded revenue goals, and steered 38% revenue growth.

It can be really easy to bolster your résumé by turning your tasks into bottom-line driven, powerful achievements that will catch the reader’s attention. A company is concerned with their bottom line so speak their language and illustrate your experience as it relates to them. Use your résumé as a tool to convey your value to the prospective employing company and expect more interviews in the future.

Did you know that CareerBuilder offers résumé writing services and résumé upgrade opportunities?

Ramsey Penegar is an executive résumé consultant and is certified as a professional résumé writer by the Professional Association of Résumé Writers.  She has developed 1,000s of résumés for executives all over the United States and for international clients as well.  With more than 15 years experience in marketing and sales, she has the skills to build effective job search marketing campaigns and attention-getting résumés.

9 Comments
  1. Nicely written article.  Its really very informative.  These points action, accomplishment, result and quality are important to take to consideration while writing a resume. If you focus on this points it will differ you different from others.  Resume is way of marketing skill which have to be unique and well written. The employer always finding the uniqueness and  more ability to solve their business problem.  For the various resume example like to share http://www.aroj.com/, it may help you for writing resume. 

  2. This article may be helpful for some, but makes a lot of assumptions about the kind of jobs people have had. The points here are great for those who have held positions where they were actually allowed to have an impact on the company, but many of us have worked what I call “warm-body jobs.” These are things like retail sales, cashiering, burger-flipping, and other low wage positions, where the company really doesn’t care too much who does it, just so long as they can shut up and follow orders. In those jobs, the kind of initiative and creativity that this article suggests a person illustrates in their resume is seen not as a help to the company, but a threat to management, and carries the risk of getting you fired. Thinking outside the box and improving things is great… *when* you’re in a position of sufficient authority to do so. You do that as a warm body, though, be prepared for it to cause problems.  I’ve worked plenty of jobs where there were inefficiencies and other issues, some of which would have been ridiculously easy to fix, most of them through simple policy changes that wouldn’t have cost the company a dime. But every time I’ve brought such things to the attention of the people with the authority to act on it, I’ve been told to shut up, deal with it, and go back to work, and it causes stress between me and my boss.As far as presenting numerical figures to back your accomplishments, well, that’s all very well and good too, but honestly… Who tracks those kind of statistics in their work? Seriously, I personally have better things to do with my time on the job than to keep a tally of the work I’ve done. Where do these HR people expect us lowly little worker ants to come up with this stuff?

    • My response to this is how you view your job. It seems like you don’t take your work seriously, therefore you don’t expect anyone else to. If you want to move up in a ‘warm body’ job, then being able to track either customer appreciation comments, or sales, or whatever ways in which people are expressing positive comments on your work.

      If you are running into a boss or manager who is telling you to ‘shut up’ and just do the work, chances are he or she may feel threatened or that you are usurping your authority. Lay it out that you want to move up and are interested in becoming more vested in the business and approach from a less threatening way and more of a ‘we can improve things together.’ As always, it’s how you play the game and approach people.

      And people who want to move up track their achievements and keep their resume updated constantly, regardless of whether they are actively looking for a job or not.

    •  @6Wolves1Spirit
       I completely agree most of my job experience as a college student has been these lowly “warm body” jobs. The reason for being hired at 7-11, Sam’s Club or Sonic for example is to have someone to do menial tasks.  Like cleaning the grill, changing the grease in the fryers and making french fries and chili dogs in 5 mins because you’re timed for every order completed.  If you don’t do it according to the time frame placed, you no longer have a job.  If you asked management why you do anything at all- if their authority or method of doing things is questioned in anyway doesn’t matter if its a perfectly reasonable and efficient idea that could increase productivity and sales by 50% –They would respond like this “If i want your opinion or input, I’ll ask you myself.”  Another is “When you’re manager, you can do anything you want. Right now, this is how we’re doing things or look for another job, understood?”
      I’m telling you from experience so it’s not just something I thought of to respond to this post. These are actual responses from the type of questions that are mentioned in this article to ask employers.  You’re usually so busy from the moment you check in (like on a clock with a card) to the time you check out…When are you going to have time to even Think about all these numbers and statistics when you have routine tasks that are repeated everyday with occasional variation if they’re happy with your work. So no, these jobs don’t allow you to have ANY impact on the bottom line of the company, you’re just another person filling a position. 

  3. HI 6Wolves1Spirit,
         If I were a business owner or a hiring manager, I would want to talk with you.  You express yourself with clarity, and your punctuation and spelling are better than one typically finds in this type of comment.  I don’t have many answers, but I’ve been around a long time and would like to share some thoughts for whatever they may be worth.   Apparently you have been relegated to working many jobs below your actual capabilities.  I think there are several obstacles there.  The first one is what the article attempts to address–but offers little help for the types of positions that you have had.  Perhaps a lot of brainstorming, and contemplation on your past, will reveal some key accomplishments that you can include.  There must be few improvements that you have suggested and implemented or controlled or organized that resulted in savings or improved efficiency.    Although you may not be able to claim a specific  dollar increase, perhaps you can approximate a percentage of improvement of sales, or turn-around time to fulfillment, or customer satisfaction or reduction of complaints.  It can’t hurt to estimate a percentage, and write in terms of approximation–the plan that I implemented or managed increased sales by approximately 15%, or cut turn-around-time by 40%, or improved cash flow by approximately 25%. 
          But I think that the second obstacle is that low level job experiences have stymied your upward climb in two ways:  First, there’s a stigma attached to slow advancement; and this economy is not helping anyone to advance.  (In fact, more of us are under-employed than ever before.) Second, numerous jobs apparently don’t look too appealing to busy HR people who may pass you up for someone less experienced who has done the same thing over and over for five or ten years with the same company.  (I had a number of job changes and career changes way back when it was even more frowned upon than it is now; and I’m sure that limited my opportunities for about an additional decade.)  The best solution may be to try to get past the HR person.  On actual job applications, we are expected to include all the jobs going back to a certain date.  But perhaps you don’t have to go back so far on your resume–only on the application.  This may be helpful with employers who allow you to fax or submit a resume and then later ask for a completed application.  The idea is to get more favorable attention, and hopefully get passed along to a hiring manager without the HR person scrutinizing your application. Hopefully, the hiring manager will be more appreciative of your skills and experience.  I’m really starting to believe that HR people cannot envision  that skills are readily transferable from one position or career to another., so they probably some sort of a statement in your letter about how your skills or experience might benefit or fit in with the company.
         You’ve probably heard that we need to network.  I’ve been really terrible at that over the years, but one of the best jobs I ever had (before acquiring a degree) was the direct result of a recommendation by an associate that I had worked with at another company.  The position was never advertized, and  my friend told his boss that I was the guy for the new position.  I probably would have had to fall flat on my face in order to flub the interview.   You may believe for the moment that you don’t know anyone who can help, but networking is sometimes a long range rather than short-term proposition.  If you are not familiar with various methods of networking, you might get some good ideas by searching available resources. 
           In spite of these difficult and highly competitive times, I hope that you will be encouraged to continue pursuing your dreams.  If you wish, you may contact me at info@objectivetruths.com   Joe                       

  4. I have been seeking employment for three years now.  I have paid out almost $1400 to various Certified Professional Resume Writers, all advertising they have what it takes to land you that job.  I have researched tons of information that applies to the ATS and other systems utilized by recruiters, and to survey the keyword approach, I have taken probably 50-60 advertised vacancies, and I would “craft” the resume to conform to as many keywords as possible, so as to possibly get this ATS to pick me up.  My job titles from the past were definitely in line with the position being offered.  I would also use wordle.com to test my approach.  After many many hours of not only trying to gain employment, as well as “testing” the system, I still have no employment!  I still continue to apply these keywords, and all other recommended approaches you learn in this newer approach to searching for work, and i go to bed each night sleepless trying to figure out the problem.  If I had the money, I would enlist lobbyists to pursue this in legislation.  The legislation if passed, would cause these recruiting agencies to get rid of this ATS system, and replace with one that works.  Not only the system, but the recruiters themselves need to be qualified or certified.  Some companies post these job advertisements to be EEO compliant, or maybe only conducting analysis on salary expectations, or creating a labor pool they can draw from the following quarter or year, or the recruiters themselves post the same job numerous times because they need to meet the quotas in their agency for attracting X amount of applicants.  The list can go on.  It is a system that I believe has caused a large percentage of this country’s unemployment.  When there are so many unemployed, the recruiters and hiring managers know they have the upper hand, so they seek the “perfect machine” to bring on board.  Most of those so called perfect machines all have degrees or certifications, but know nothing about management as example.  These companies would benefit greatly from my substantial experience in management, but I am looked over.  My resume looks great, I meet the keywords, my job title and industry target market are in line with my background, the resume is always revised to conform to the vacancy, my cover letter is always personalized for each job, my interview skills are great, and I CAN deliver, but the question is why am I still unemployed??  I just don’t have the answer, and I really wish I did.

  5. I have been seeking employment for far too long.  I have even stooped to paying out almost $1400 to various Certified Professional Resume Writers, all advertising they have what it takes to land you that interview.  Obviously that was a waste, for me anyway.  For you baby boomers, you can no longer walk in the front door of “most” established companies and fill out an application, or just offer your resume to a hiring manager in person.  From my experience, they automatically ask you if you have applied on their website.  You respond with yes, and then they tell you that they have a screening service “recruiting agency” that will possibly select you, and if you are, then it goes to their hiring manager, and he or she will make the final decision for an interview.  If you try to break ranks and make attempts to speak with the hiring manager directly, this is frowned on by some.  This job search approach online does save gas, but the days of face to face seem obsolete anymore. 
     
    So now you have to meet and greet a COMPUTER.  That computer, or system to be more precise, will scan your resume for critical keywords that can pass muster.  Not only that, but the recruiter will also place filters in this system to search for candidates in a particular zip code, your industry background, consistency of job titles that apply towards the vacancy, and more.  I have researched tons of information that applies to the “Applicant Tracking System”, or ATS, utilized by recruiters.  To survey the keyword approach, I have taken probably 50-60 advertised vacancies, and I would “craft” the resume to conform to as many keywords as possible, so as to possibly get this ATS to notice me.  My job titles from the past were definitely in line with the position being offered.  I would also use wordle.com to test my approach.  After many hours of not only trying to gain employment, as well as “testing” the system, I never received one email or phone call.  I still continue to apply these keywords, and all other recommended approaches you learn in today’s methods of searching for work, and I go to bed each night sleepless trying to figure out the problem. 
     
    Not to come across as negative and upset with the entire system, as I am not, but if I had the money, I would enlist lobbyists to pursue this recruiting process in legislation.  The legislation, if passed, would cause these recruiting agencies to get rid of this ATS system, and replace with one that works for me, lol.  Not only the system, but the recruiters themselves would need to meet strict certification requirements.  One of the new recruiting agency requirements would be to provide monthly reporting to the authority providing oversight.  As part of this report, the recruiting agency would document the age groups or specific age of each applicant that was processed and moved forward to the interview stage.  If they are found liable for age discrimination, or not meeting the standards of the EEO requirements or otherwise, then a strong fine would be imposed.  I say this not because I am ancient, as I am only 47.  I say this because I have two friends who are former recruiters for fairly large organizations.  They explicitly let me know that age discrimination is viral in many recruiting agencies, and it is a very common approach in the selection process.  They look at the resume, and if the jobs you have held in the past (date you), then they throw you out.  Unless of course, you are that “perfect machine”.  As another added requirement, I would like to see ALL recruiters send you at least an email letting you know that the position was filled, or you did not meet the requirements, etc.  Out of 100 vacancies I have applied to online, I have probably received about 10 emails stating this.  So you keep wishing to follow up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as I have, and finally the recruiter gets tired of seeing your emails, and sends you an email stating “POSITION FILLED!!”.  I received one just like that.  Very professional and personable isn’t it?   
     
    Another reporting requirement would require (actual) open positions, rather than phony ones.  Some companies post these job advertisements only to be EEO compliant, as they instead hire internally.  Or maybe they are only conducting an analysis on salary expectations, or creating a labor pool they can draw from the following quarter or year, and you need a job today.  Or the recruiters themselves keep the same job vacancy posted for months at a time, because they need to meet the quotas in their agency for attracting X amount of applicants, or the position is dependent on contract award that they oddly fail to mention.  The list can go on.  It is a system that I believe has caused a large percentage of this country’s unemployment.  When there are so many unemployed, the recruiters and hiring managers know they have the upper hand, so they seek the “perfect machine” to bring on board.  Most of those perfect machines (respectfully)  all have degrees or certifications, and I applaud that, but that applicant has far less experience than what a seasoned manager has to offer, and who can bring those results you seek without having to train or mold.   Could it be that the employer knows the seasoned manager desires more compensation, so they target those who don’t?  Is the job advertisement really intending to fill the position, or is it a phony?  They are out there, and if you investigate thoroughly, you will learn on this.  These companies would benefit greatly from my substantial experience in management and leadership traits.  Like others in this world, we are all imperfect, so I am not advertising I am the number one Manager out there, but I am quite confident I would be a great addition to the TEAM if warranted the opportunity.   
     
    I apply to at least 40-50 positions weekly, and my search has no geographic boundaries.  My resume looks great, I meet the keywords, my job title and industry target market are in line with my background, or overall experience that (can) achieve results.  My resume is always revised to conform to the vacancy.  My cover letter is always personalized for each job, my interview skills are great, and I CAN deliver.  To add, I am a Marine Corps Veteran, and I thought the government and other organizations were pushing to employ veterans?  So the question is why am I still unemployed when I have so much to offer??  I just don’t have the answer.

  6. I have been seeking employment for far too long.  For you baby boomers, you can no longer walk in the front door of “most” established companies and fill out an application, or just offer your resume to a hiring manager in person.  From my experience, they automatically ask you if you have applied on their website.  You respond with yes, and then they tell you that they have a screening service “recruiting agency” that will possibly select you, and if you are, then it goes to their hiring manager, and he or she will make the final decision for an interview.  If you try to break ranks and make attempts to speak with the hiring manager directly, this is frowned on by some.  This job search approach online does save gas, but the days of face to face seem obsolete anymore. 
     
    So now you have to meet and greet a COMPUTER.  That computer, or system to be more precise, will scan your resume for critical keywords that can pass muster.  Not only that, but the recruiter will also place filters in this system to search for candidates in a particular zip code, your industry background, consistency of job titles that apply towards the vacancy, and more.  I have researched tons of information that applies to the “Applicant Tracking System”, or ATS, utilized by recruiters.  To survey the keyword approach, I have taken probably 50-60 advertised vacancies, and I would “craft” the resume to conform to as many keywords as possible, so as to possibly get this ATS to notice me.  My job titles from the past were definitely in line with the position being offered.  I would also use wordle.com to test my approach.  After many hours of not only trying to gain employment, as well as “testing” the system, I never received one email or phone call.  I still continue to apply these keywords, and all other recommended approaches you learn in today’s methods of searching for work, and I go to bed each night sleepless trying to figure out the problem. 
     
    Not to come across as negative and upset with the entire system, as I am not, but if I had the money, I would enlist lobbyists to pursue this recruiting process in legislation.  The legislation, if passed, would cause these recruiting agencies to get rid of this ATS system, and replace with one that works for me, lol.  Not only the system, but the recruiters themselves would need to meet strict certification requirements.  One of the new recruiting agency requirements would be to provide monthly reporting to the authority providing oversight.  As part of this report, the recruiting agency would document the age groups or specific age of each applicant that was processed and moved forward to the interview stage.  If they are found liable for age discrimination, or not meeting the standards of the EEO requirements or otherwise, then a strong fine would be imposed.  I say this not because I am ancient, as I am only 47.  I say this because I have two friends who are former recruiters for fairly large organizations.  They explicitly let me know that age discrimination is viral in many recruiting agencies, and it is a very common approach in the selection process.  They look at the resume, and if the jobs you have held in the past (date you), then they throw you out.  Unless of course, you are that “perfect machine”.  As another added requirement, I would like to see ALL recruiters send you at least an email letting you know that the position was filled, or you did not meet the requirements, etc.  Out of 100 vacancies I have applied to online, I have probably received about 10 emails stating this.  So you keep wishing to follow up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as I have, and finally the recruiter gets tired of seeing your emails, and sends you an email stating “POSITION FILLED!!”.  I received one just like that.  Very professional and personable isn’t it?   
     
    Another reporting requirement would require (actual) open positions, rather than phony ones.  Some companies post these job advertisements only to be EEO compliant, as they instead hire internally.  Or maybe they are only conducting an analysis on salary expectations, or creating a labor pool they can draw from the following quarter or year, and you need a job today.  Or the recruiters themselves keep the same job vacancy posted for months at a time, because they need to meet the quotas in their agency for attracting X amount of applicants, or the position is dependent on contract award that they oddly fail to mention.  The list can go on.  It is a system that I believe has caused a large percentage of this country’s unemployment.  When there are so many unemployed, the recruiters and hiring managers know they have the upper hand, so they seek the “perfect machine” to bring on board.  Most of those perfect machines (respectfully)  all have degrees or certifications, and I applaud that, but that applicant has far less experience than what a seasoned manager has to offer, and who can bring those results you seek without having to train or mold.   Could it be that the employer knows the seasoned manager desires more compensation, so they target those who don’t?  Is the job advertisement really intending to fill the position, or is it a phony?  They are out there, and if you investigate thoroughly, you will learn on this.  These companies would benefit greatly from my substantial experience in management and leadership traits.  Like others in this world, we are all imperfect, so I am not advertising I am the number one Manager out there, but I am quite confident I would be a great addition to the TEAM if warranted the opportunity.   
     
    I apply to at least 40-50 positions weekly, and my search has no geographic boundaries.  My resume looks great, I meet the keywords, my job title and industry target market are in line with my background, or overall experience that (can) achieve results.  My resume is always revised to conform to the vacancy.  My cover letter is always personalized for each job, my interview skills are great, and I CAN deliver.  To add, I am a Marine Corps Veteran, and I thought the government and other organizations were pushing to employ veterans?  So the question is why am I still unemployed when I have so much to offer??  I just don’t have the answer.

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