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Resume Writing: Turning Your Duties into Accomplishments

If you have ever surfed the internet in search of resume writing tips, then you have probably come across many articles that recommended to focus on accomplishments rather than routine responsibilities. And it’s true. More than that, it is one of the most effective recommendations you can ever find online that change your approach to resume writing as well as to the job search itself. Copy-pasted job descriptions that are so common have never looked impressive on a resume. Neither did the lists of weekly or monthly assignments. At least in the eyes of potential employers. Nevertheless, with so many resume tips that scream to turn duties into achievements, there are still very few job seekers who actually take this path. And the reason is obvious: turning your routine duties into achievements is not a piece of cake.

Revamping Your Resume

While converting your job descriptions into accomplishments is a tough thing to do, the effect is absolutely amazing. Once you understand how it is done, your resume writing experience as well as job search will become so much smoother and effective altogether. But before you get to writing or editing your resume, we should establish the difference between accomplishments and duties. Job duties (responsibilities) describe what you did, while accomplishments tell employers how well you did them. Here is one example: “Planned and organized events” vs “Raised over $78 000 by selling invitations to a 280-person charity dinner”.

accomplishmentsWe recommend going through the list of questions targeted at identifying your accomplishments first. For each and every job that you had compile a list of things that set you apart. Here are some questions that should help you do that:

– What did I do beyond my job duties?
– Why did I stand out among others at work?
– When and why was I recognized by a manager for a well-done job?
– Were there any awards that I received?
– Did I improve anything at work? Did I solve any particular problems?
– Did I meet/exceed goals?
– Did I increase sales or save the money for the company?

Now when you have the list of answers for every position you held in the past, you should proceed to adding as many facts and figures to these lists as you possibly can. The number of people impacted by your work, percentage by which you increased your goals/quotas, the amount of money you managed (budget) – all of these things can do a great job at turning your duties into accomplishments. By adding numbers to your accomplishments you make it easier for hiring managers to understand your actual responsibilities and what it took to achieve these things.

Lastly, show the benefit for the company. It isn’t just about how well you did at previous jobs, but it is rather what benefit you brought to past employers (or what you can potentially bring to a new employer). The entire job search thing is all about what employers want and need; therefore, you need to make your resume benefits-for-employer-oriented. For example, you have a statement like this on your resume “created 46 client reports weekly”. If you add a little part like, “to ensure all clients received complete order information on time” to that statement it will sound so much better. Such things actually help hiring authorities identify things you can do for the company.

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