Career Tip of the Month

What is an Accomplishment ?

Today's resumes need to be results-oriented and accomplishment-based. Employers want to know what candidates can DO for them. That's why including accomplishments on your resume and cover letter are so important and can serve to separate you from the competition.

The problem is that many people confuse an accomplishment with a tasks or skills in their job description. For example, "filing" may be an integral part of the job. But "filing" is just a task. However, if you re-organized or computerized the old paper filing system to make patient access more efficient, then that's an accomplishment.

Likewise, "training new hires" may be a skill that the job requires. But an example of an accomplishment that involved training new hires would be, "trained six new employees who went on to become store managers."

What characterizes an accomplishment? An accomplishment can be quantified and usually contains data (e.g., five years of paper files, six new hires, $500,000 in annual sales).

Why are accomplishments important to an employer? Because they illustrate the value that you will bring to the company. In other words, hiring you will mean that the company will benefit in some way from hiring you. And what company would not want to grab an employee who helps them produce a better product or provide a better service, save time, train good staff, attract more customers, or make more money?

Here are two tips for writing about accomplishments in your resume:

* Always start with an active and interesting verb ("Improved information access?"; "Trained?"; "Sold?").

* Be specific and include as many numbers as you can ("Improved information access to 5,000 patient records.", "Trained six new hires."). Keep in mind that not all accomplishments involve or numbers. For example, "Partnered with department heads to identify opportunities for attracting new clients.").

If you have difficulty identifying your accomplishments, use examples found in praise or recognition from a colleague, teacher, manager, or customer. Or use complimentary statements in your performance reviews, results of committee work, research, or projects that you participated in, and any problems that you solved, or helped solve.