Replacing Responsibilities and Duties with Achievement Statements:
Hiring managers typically only spend about 10 seconds scanning a resume to see whether the candidate should be considered or tossed out. No matter if you are writing an entry level resume or an executive resume, If you really want to shine above the other hundred applications and get your resume to the top of the interview pile, the best way is to create an achievement based resume focusing on your accomplishments and value added skills.
Put yourself in the employers’ shoes and think about what type of candidate you would hire if you were the one filling the position. The best and usually safest candidates to hire are the ones that have demonstrated successful performance in their past positions. Employers don’t want to take a risk when hiring candidates. It’s time-consuming and expensive recruiting and hiring new employees so it benefits them to find “safe” candidates they are convinced will perform well in the position.
In order to convince employers that you are a good choice, you should start replacing responsibilities and duties with achievement statements wherever you can. Sometimes I feel a little ego-centric promoting myself as if I’m the greatest candidate ever, but you really have to sell yourself to employers if you want the position. The competition is just too fierce out there to try to be modest in a job application. Unfortunately these days, simply graduating with a college degree won’t get you very far in the job market. In order to really sell yourself, you should highlight your achievements to the reader and provide examples everywhere possible to demonstrate how you can add value to the organization. Listing examples and quantifiable evidence showing what you accomplished in your past work experience will illustrate to employers that you will continue to achieve high standards and results in their company if you’re hired.
So how do achievement statements differ from duties and responsibilities? Well, let’s look at an example between the two types of statements you could make for a café worker position, where you served as a Team Lead. For some positions, you may not have detailed quantifiable evidence, but the more you can provide the better. Numbers (when available) usually help serve this purpose:
Duties and Responsibility Statements:
Provided excellent customer service to customers
Received ‘employee of the month’ recognition for my excellent customer service on 2 different occasions and helped to build customer loyalty in over 20 new customers at the store
Duties and Responsibility Statements:
Supervised 5 employees on their customer service and performance
Assisted in hiring 2 new employees and retained 3 high-performing employees. Increased Team scorecard to Excellent for customer service and service delivery
Start replacing responsibilities and duties with achievement statements as much as you can, and you will definitely start seeing better results!
It’s common knowledge that spelling and grammar mistakes can be extremely damaging to your resume’s chances of landing you a job interview. Everyone seems to be aware of this fact, and this is why they are constantly reminded to check and then recheck their resumes.
So then why are these mistakes found all the time on resumes? A lot of times, people are reluctant to share and have their resumes edited by others, and failing to do so can result in small errors going undetected.
Showing your resume to someone else benefits you in more ways than one. For one, it provides an extra pair of eyes to look for any spelling of grammar mistakes. While you may be absolutely positive that there are none, especially since you’ve edited it numerous times, it can’t hurt! I can tell you from experience that 7 out of the 10 resumes I read contain some sort of spelling error, and I’m willing to bet that most of these people did several edits on their resumes.
Have you ever read something so many times that you started memorizing and reciting it more than actually reading it? This happens a lot with resumes. We get so caught up in what we think it says that we sometimes forget how this translates onto paper. I notice a lot of times that people write things like “… responsible updating data…” or “…selected represent the company at various trade shows.” If you just read that for the first time, you probably noticed that a few words are missing there. Obvious, right? Read it a few more times and you might find yourself automatically inserting the missing words. This is what happens quite often with people who write and then edit and re-edit their resumes.
Showing your resume to someone else eliminates the chances of this happening as they will be more likely to catch small mistakes like these. They can also provide an objective critique on your resume.
While you clearly know more about your past experience than anyone, translating this onto paper for a stranger to understand is sometimes very difficult, and the person critiquing it can point out any job descriptions that don’t make sense or aren’t very clear.
Overall, having another person or two look at your resume before you send it off can do nothing but help you. The job market out there is tough at the moment and you want to give yourself the best chance possible – don’t let small errors that you looked over damage your chances of landing an interview.
I recently had a conversation with a job seeker who told me that she was unable to send out her resume because she was waiting on a reference to come back to her. I was shocked to hear this and asked her why she was even putting references on her resume in the first place. She told me it was “the standard thing to do on a resume”.
A hiring manager wants to know what value you can bring to the business. They are interested in your experience and skills, and therefore these are the areas that need to be highlighted. Including referees/references on your resume is not required. Not only does it take up an unnecessary amount of room on your resume, but it also does not add any value to your initial application. All that is required is to write the following four words at the very end of your resume:
“REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST”
Employers will NEVER contact referees without speaking to you first. Think about it – why would they? Would you bother doing research on a potential candidate without even having a conversation with them first? A hiring manager or recruiter sees hundreds of resumes on a daily basis. Do you think they have time to start reading through candidates referees and contacting them directly. This will never occur.
Contacting a referee is generally the final stage in the job process. Employers and hiring mangers, more than anything, rely on their own judgments and will contact your referees as a final step in the process. Only at this time will an employer ask you for a list of references to contact.
Great references do help and if the decision is down to two candidates, your choice of references could be the extra difference in getting offered the job. Have your references ready and available if they are going to be contacted, however first try to focus on presenting all the right information in your resume and cover letter.
How the job search process works:
Listing Achievements on Your Resume
It’s really important to remember that achievements are essential to every single resume.
I’ve come across so many resumes that include no achievements whatsoever. It’s actually very common to see this, so it’s important that you include achievements in your resume as they provide a lot of value and depth. Most people forget to include achievements on their resumes because they simply don’t know how to communicate them.
The best achievements on a resume are always specific. A lot of people will include “helped to increase sales,” for example, on their resume, and this is far from effective. If you did increase sales, tell me a little more about this. What did you do to achieve this? Did you introduce or implement new tactics into the business? Instead of the generic “helped to increase sales,” include something like “Increased sales by x% over a 6 month period by introducing new methods of revenue generation.” It tells the reader what you did, how you did it, and how successful you were at it.
Be very careful to avoid generic achievements such as “effectively worked in a team environment” or “showed dedication.” I can assure you that plenty of other people will also list these achievements on their resumes, so you need to separate yourself from the competition by being one of the few to specify how you actually displayed those achievements.
It’s important to remember that hiring managers do not know you, so you need to be as specific as possible. Listing achievements is a good and effective way to do this, and it will definitely make you stand out a bit from your competition.
As a professional resume writer who has seen and written tens of thousands of resumes it does not take long to notice an average resume, a good resume and a great resume! In my experience talking with job seekers, the hardest part about actually writing the resume is knowing exactly what goes in the resume and where. Once the job seeker has compiled all their information, the next tough part is formatting and presenting the resume.
In order to get the job one needs to stand out from competitors, it is necessary to have an understanding of what hiring managers want to see in a resume (remember that hiring managers are our target market when it comes to preparing our resume) and is critical to finding the job.
Although you may feel that you are the best job candidate for a particular position (and you may well be) if your resume does not attract the eye of the hiring manger and keep them interested then you will not get the job. Job seeking is a cut throat business so ensure you give yourself the greatest opportunity of finding success.
From my experience the top 5 most common resume writing mistakes are as follows:
1) Trying to make the resume too artistic instead of focusing on value:
Your professional resume has one aim which is to assist you in getting to the interview. That is all! Focus your resume on value added information as opposed to trying to make it stand out with fancy colors, tables, fonts and headings. Not only is this off putting to read, but many times resumes are put through recruiting software programs which are unable to read tables, diagrams and pictures.
2) Only listing responsibilities:
An average resume will list responsibilities and daily duties throughout the resume. (Boring!) A great resume will turn these responsibilities into achievement statements. Rather than telling the reader what you do on a daily basis – rather promote your duties through highlighting your achievements. In today’s society, businesses are searching for employees who can add value to their organization. The easiest way to show your value is through the introduction of achievement statements.
3) No employment dates:
It still amazes me when I see a resume that has either no employment dates or inconsistent dates. My advice on this matter is simple. INCLUDE DATES! A lack of employment dates indicates to me that either the job candidate is trying to cover up something or they are sloppy. Either way no employment dates equals no job.
4) Text message resume:
Your resume is a professional document not a twitter message. Remember to use proper sentences and correct words. Texting a friend “Going 2 C clients” is fine but on your resume it portrays an unprofessional image.
The longest resume does not get the job. Resume readers tend to have little patience, especially when they have a stack of hundreds of resume sitting on their desk. Rather than trying to stick your entire life’s history in your chronological resume, rather focus on highlighting relevant information that targets the job description. Receiving your CPR certificate is relevant when you’re applying for a job that requires this, such as a lifesaver or swimming instructor. It isn’t so relevant if you received your CPR certificate 10 years ago, and now you’re going for a job as a CEO of an accounting firm.
Finding employment is tough work. As a job seeker you have no control over a variety of elements such as employer perceptions, personal preferences or the competitors for the job. However, by eliminating mistakes and focusing your resume on how you can add value to the organization will ensure that you give yourself the greatest chance of getting that dream job!
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