Communicating your accomplishments on a resume can be challenging, particularly if you’re in a role that doesn’t have a direct impact on the numbers, or that isn’t metrics-driven. Resumes are less about detailing your day-to-day responsibilities and more about telling an impactful story around how your role and your work positively impacted the organization.
For professionals in areas like sales and marketing, accomplishments may be easier to show if they’re directly tied to certain numbers or performance indicators. Often these include things like revenue growth, new customers or accounts, audience size, click-through rates, etc.
How can you highlight your accomplishments if you’re not in a numbers-driven role, or if you don’t have direct access to that information?
Not all Accomplishments Need to Include Numbers
Focus on showing impact versus numbers, as not every accomplishment is quantifiable. While it’s easy to detail things like revenue growth, marketing reach, or how many subscribers you brought on – don’t overlook accomplishments that aren’t based on metrics.
These can include things such as turning around a struggling client relationship, increasing team or employee morale, stepping in on a special project, or in the absence of an employee, and anything else that supported your organization in achieving its mission or goals.
- “Increased employee engagement by reworking the compensation structure.”
- “Improved productivity by setting clear goals and holding weekly team meetings.”
- “Contributed to the success of a high-profile company event, by redesigning the collateral, invitations, and promotional items.”
- “Secured meetings with high-level decision-makers by building trust and rapport with their administrative teams.”
How to List Accomplishments in the Resume
The best way to show your accomplishments on the resume is in one of two ways:
1) Create a separate section at the top of the resume that includes 1-2 highlights from each of your roles. Instead of including your accomplishments in the job descriptions, you can group them into one section that summarizes your impact across your career. This can be a good option if your resume is already text-heavy, or if you can’t consistently list accomplishments under each entry in the experience section.
- Recognized as the top sales producer for three consecutive years (Company ABC).
- Turned around multiple struggling accounts into profitable relationships with multi-year renewal contracts (Company XYZ).
- Generated over $1M in additional revenue through upselling and cross-selling efforts (Company Confidential).
- Received high-profile press mentions in major publications (Forbes, Wall Street Journal), recognizing innovations in customer success and software sales (Company X).
- Played an integral role in scaling a technology start-up into a multi-billion-dollar company, and positioning it for a successful sale to venture capital firm (Company Z).
2) Include 2-5 accomplishments for each role under the experience section. You can lead with these points, or call them out as a separate subsection within the job description. This is a good solution for breaking up the text so that the accomplishments don’t get lost in a lengthy paragraph or list of bullets. It also makes them easier to understand by first summarizing your role and responsibilities, and then providing concrete examples of how you were successful in the position.
- Worked closely with company founder to identify hiring priorities and form the company’s first 3D design team.
- Developed a streamlined process for evaluating and interviewing candidates.
- Successfully hired over 20 full-time employees in the first quarter.
What if You Can’t Show the Results, or they Aren’t Impressive?
It’s not always possible to show the results of your work, and in some cases, you may not want to if the results were less than impressive. Perhaps you performed highly as an individual, but the team or organization did not. Circumstances beyond your control – such as organizational changes, leadership shifts, or issues within your customers’ businesses – may impact your personal results. Many clients have described the challenge of signing onto a new position, only to find out it was misrepresented or not what they expected.
So should you try to list results that are less-than-stellar, or avoid including them altogether?
If you can, spin it in a positive light. If you can’t list specific accomplishments, talk about what you did take away from the role – whether that was learning a new skill, building new relationships, or learning about a new sector.
In most cases, you are better off omitting information from your resume that does not support your overall message or that paints you in a potentially negative light. Be prepared to speak to this in the interview process, and talk about your experience with the organization. If you find yourself discussing a negative aspect of the role (i.e. a layoff, internal restructuring, leadership issue), always try to bring the conversation back around to your strengths, and end on a positive note.
“While it was difficult to be a new employee at a time when the company was struggling, I did learn a lot about thinking on my feet.”
“I wasn’t aware until my first few weeks how strained the company really was – but fortunately we were still able to meet our deadlines despite the reduction in staff.”
“I was excited to join the company, but unfortunately the position turned out to be different than what I expected. I appreciate the opportunity, and am using this time to strategically plan my next career move.”
The purpose of showing accomplishments on your resume is to communicate how the work you did directly support the goals of the organization. Do include quantifiable metrics (growth, profitability, new customers, audience reach, etc.) if you can, but not all accomplishments need to include numbers. Instead, focus on communicating impact, talk about how you were successful in the role, what you learned, and how you contributed to the overall growth, profitability, or mission of the organization. What did you take away, and how can that add value in your next role?
Need help communicating your value and putting your accomplishments on paper? We know the right questions to ask, and can help you formulate an impactful narrative that will grab a recruiter’s attention. Contact us to learn more.