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Deborah Walker

Three ways to turn career challenges into résumé achievements

Outlining specific accomplishments sets you apart from the competition, yet most people find writing about such achievements on a résumé challenging. Here are strategies to make it easier to do that important bragging.

April 19, 2012
by Deborah Walker

Accomplishments are an important part of your résumé. They set you apart from your competition and give potential employers a reason to consider you above others with similar qualifications.

Most people, however, find it difficult to write résumé achievements. What exactly constitutes an accomplishment? Simply put, an accomplishment is an example of how you solved a workplace challenge and what it meant to your employer. Everyone faces problems on the job, especially now, given our difficult economic times.

Make these challenges work for you with this three-step method and turn challenges into achievements:

  1. Identify significant challenges

    Think back through your career to the times when your company, team, or division faced difficult situations that had a potential negative effect on bottom-line corporate issues. Go back to your earliest years of employment and list issues. Specifically note why each was a problem.

    As you make your list, try to answer the following questions: What was at stake? Who were the stakeholders? Why was the issue critical? How did the challenge affect the company?

    Taking a systematic approach will enable you to identify a challenge for every few years of employment.

  2. What was your part in solving the problem?

    Now that you have your list of workplace challenges, think back to how you helped solve them.

    You may have worked alone or as part of a group. Perhaps you coordinated between diverse functional groups to facilitate the solution. Be specific about the technology you used, skills involved, and steps you took to fix the problem. Did you introduce a new procedure or create a better way of processing information? Did you use technology to streamline routine tasks? Did you train your team on a new process? Did you take on added responsibilities to ensure the task was completed?

  3. What was the result of your effort?

    Once the challenge was met, the solution found, and the issue resolved, what did it mean to your employer?

    What did your company get out of it? Did you save your department time? Did your solution lead to cutting costs? Were you able to identify new revenue opportunities? Did you free up time for your boss? Did you help others work more efficiently? How many people within the organization were affected by your work?

It's nice if you can quantify your results, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t quantify every result in dollars.

After you have all your information, it’s time to put it together in concise statements that sell your skills. A few guidelines to keep in mind are:

  • Keep your accomplishment statements to two lines each.
  • Begin your statement with the result.
  • Don't dilute the result by providing more information than necessary.

Conclusion

Accomplishments should be included with every employment entry on your résumé. For added punch, write a section toward the top of your résumé that highlights various accomplishments. While you may have received little thanks for your efforts in solving challenges, now is the time to obtain the credit for your hard work. Include your job achievements on your résumé so that
employers are eager to learn how you can help solve their problems as well.

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Deborah Walker is a certified career management coach (CCMC). See more career tips and sample résumés here. You can reach her at 360-260-4965.