Pocket knifeOne of the best ways to show a potential employer that you will exceed their expectations is to share examples of how you went above and beyond in your previous positions.

This is something many people forget to do when writing their resumes. They simply list the duties they fulfilled in a particular position, and even if the list is long, it boils down to simply the tasks you completed, while not providing a complete picture of the contribution you made to the company.

You can correct this by pulling out several accomplishments or achievements that you made in each job – or by creating a separate section to highlight them.

But what makes for an impressive achievement, and where do you find ideas for what to highlight?

Show results. The best achievements to list are those with measureable results. Did a particular action you took lead to a 45% increase in sales? Did you help the company achieve a 20% cost reduction? Or maybe you brought in $1 million in new accounts? Even if you don’t know the exact figures, explaining how an action you took created a specific benefit for your company is a great thing to list.

Share your awards. If your past employer valued you enough to recognize your efforts, it’s more than worth noting on your resume. While you don’t want to go too in-depth on the meaning of each award, it’s good to provide a brief explanation in some cases. Top Salesman of the Year probably needs no further details, but if you won the company’s Blue Ribbon, you might want to explain that it is their award for providing superb customer service.

Look to old performance reviews. For some people, talking up strengths isn’t easy. It may feel like bragging, and you may even feel like you don’t have anything worth bragging about! If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, a good place to look is evaluations from your employer if you have access to them. You may even be able to ask HR for copies. Often, your boss will call out several things that made you shine that year, and these will likely shine on your resume as well!

Talk about your “babies.” Did you have any pet projects at a past company? Now’s the time to talk them up! Showing that you take initiative to start and complete projects is a great selling point. Don’t forget to explain how the project ultimately impacted the business, even if the result was something that may seem less tangible like improved employee morale or efficiency.

Demonstrate your problem-solving abilities. It may be a skill you already list on your resume, so show them that’s its true by providing examples. Explain a challenge you encountered and how you dealt with it.

Highlight promotions. Don’t let the fact that you went up the ranks get lost on your resume. Call it out! If you made a promotion in record time, this is also a good idea to mention. Also, if you were appointed to any special committees or task forces, list them.

Take credit for the accomplishments of others. Okay, not just anybody else, but the people that you manage, train, or mentor. Explain how you led a team to a more positive result, or how you took a younger employee under your wing and helped them learn a new skill.

Having a hard time thinking of ideas? Try this exercise. Imagine that you quit your job, what would people say about your work during your good-bye party? What would you be known for after you left? If you’re still struggling, you can consider directly asking your manager or colleagues to help you identify your contributions. You may be surprised by what they come up with!

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