resume achievementsWhat do you do if you’ve listed your education, work experience, and additional skills on your resume, but it still looks thin? One easy solution is to beef up your work experience section by listing achievements that you’ve accomplished on the job.

But that raises another question—what exactly do you say when it comes to achievements? You may know that you helped make your office a more productive environment or worked well on a team project, but just using that type of vague terminology isn’t going to do your resume any favors. Here are some tips to maximize your achievements on your resume.


Pull out a piece of paper or open a Word document and give yourself ten minutes to list all the work accomplishments you can think of. Don’t worry about the exact wording at this point—you can refine your achievements and put them in resume language once you figure out which points are going to be the most important to include on your resume.

Tailor achievements to the position.

Look over the list of achievements you brainstormed and think back to the job description of the position you’re applying for. Look for overlap between the achievements you listed and the skills the company is looking for. You should also start thinking about how you can rephrase some of your achievements to reflect the language used in the position description.

It’s also worth knowing what skills are generally sought after in the field that you want to go into. Look at Vault’s industries and professions section or seek advice on a site like CareerQA. You want to pinpoint the type of skills, education, and work environment that you would find in your chosen field, so you can use this information to further tailor your resume.

Make it quantifiable.

The best achievements to list on your resume are the ones where you can show concrete results. What sounds better: “Got more people to respond to customer service survey” or “Implemented phone campaign and increased customer service response rate from 20% to 67%”? The latter details exactly how you got more people to respond to your survey and shows the dramatic increase in participation rate, which is the kind of thing potential employers like to see.

If you don’t have numbers to back up your achievements, you should still try to be as specific as possible. For example, for an achievement listed under an administrative assistant position, you might say something like, “Increased office efficiency by converting physical filing system to online database”.

Ask your employers.

If you’re having trouble brainstorming achievements to list on your resume, contact former employers (as long as you left their employ on good terms) and ask them what they think your strengths were when you worked for their organization. Sometimes having an outside perspective will help you highlight achievements that you might not have thought of otherwise.

Review performance evaluations.

If one of your previous jobs involved performance evaluations, pull those out so that you can get a sense of what you did particularly well in that position. Some notes from your performance evaluation may translate directly into achievements for your resume. For example, if an employer wrote that you “Improved communication between management and employees through presentations at weekly meeting,” throw that on your resume.

Don’t have performance evaluations on hand? If you have access to reference letters from former employers, these can also be great resources for finding achievements to list on your resume.

List awards and leadership experience.

A merit-based award from a previous employer, like Employee of the Month, is definitely worth including on your resume. You should also highlight any leadership experience you had in a previous position, such as spearheading a group project or leading a company training session. Potential employers love seeing candidates who are able to take charge and lead other team members.

Once you’ve phrased and formatted your achievements to your satisfaction, it’s time to send your resume out into the world. Remember to go back and tweak your achievements for each position you apply to—you always want to highlight the achievements that are going to be most applicable to each individual job.

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