5 Keys to Resume Bullet Bliss
The Difference between Resume Accomplishments and Duties
On your resume, for each position you’ve held in the last 10 years or so, you’ll need to include two key components: The description of your duties as well as your accomplishments. These two components are really quite different, and they serve completely different functions. Duties tell what you did; accomplishments tell why what you did was useful, valuable, and important.
I do know that good resume writing will prepare me for my interview, but how do I get there?
Your job duties are, quite literally, the work that you do every day. Think about the work you do; now distill it down to 3 or 4 sentences. Paint an accurate picture of the work you do that propels your manager, your division, or your company to rousing success.
Sample job duties for a company president or general manager might include:
- Defining company strategy.
- Increasing sales.
- Recruiting executive team and vetting hires throughout organization.
Accomplishments differ radically from duties. Your accomplishments are the specific successes you’ve demonstrated within your job duties (or sometimes outside of them!). These show how you succeeded within your role and rose to its challenges. Unlike the duties you’ve specified for each role you’ve had, the accomplishments tell the “so what?” about your job. They answer the question: “So what happened as a result of your work?” Usually, the answers to these questions involve some kind of metric, either numeric or evaluative, demonstrating how you improved or changed a system for the better. These accomplishments become the bullets that show why you’re the most qualified to support the hiring manager’s goals and needs—starting the moment you are hired.
Sample job accomplishments for the same executive could include:
- Defined strategic priorities by month, quarter, and year, developing KPIs that focused company trajectory on reducing customer attrition, sales growth, and process improvements.
- Converted sales process X to sales process Y, then trained sales managers on specifics, increasing sales conversions 14% in 16 weeks.
- Recruited 2 directors in 2016, both poised for promotions to vice president roles in 2017 as company grew 22% faster than plan.
5 Keys to Identifying Resume Accomplishments
If you’re struggling to figure out what power the accomplishment bullets on your resume, ask yourself the following 5 questions:
- What was your hardest project? What made it difficult?
- What did you do that made it successful?
- How did your work on some project help you or someone else do their job better?
- Of which project are you most proud? Why are you proud of it?
- How does your job differ in reality from the human resources job description you were handed when you started the position?
By answering these questions specifically, you’ll choose the best parts of your career history that hiring executives and executive recruiters want to know about you. You’ll demonstrate that you have a proven history and strong talent for strategic leadership—and you’ll show how you can hit the ground running on your first day of work.
Updated January 2017.