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Developing Compelling Key Achievements for Your Resume

Curate your own professional story

With the ability to amplify your professional brand to all corners of the earth via digital platforms, telling your professional story has never been more important. But professional story telling can be difficult for people who are not confident in their writing skills. Especially when it comes to writing about themselves.

The truth is, that unless you can convey a compelling professional story, other candidates will pip you at the post for coveted roles. Strong candidates are able to articulate their key contributions within their resume and LinkedIn profile to create impressive professional profiles.

So, I’ve pulled together this Mini Tutorial – How to Write Key Achievements to Get Noticed. I hope it provides some value to you as you curate your professional digital profile.

Listicles no longer cut it

Ever recruiter has seen their fair share of resumes that include “listicles”. A listicle is a piece of writing or other content, presented wholly or partly in the form of a list. Listicles on your resume or your LinkedIn profile are a thing of the past. No prospective employer, recruitment or talent acquisition specialist wants to see a cut and paste job of your Key Accountabilities directly from your Job Description.

Why? Because lists of accountabilities don’t showcase how you have used your skills and competencies to help companies thrive. In this article I outline how to craft compelling key achievements to add to your resume and your LinkedIn profile, that will help you stand out from the crowd.

What is a key achievement?

A key achievement is a task, project, initiative or other compelling result that you have contributed to in your role. These achievements are things you have done that have had a lasting impact for your company or the clients you work with.

They are personal contributions that lead to improved company results. Typically key achievements are things that you have created, led, built, designed, sold or initiated.

Which key achievements should I list on my resume?

Your career has likely held many key achievements that you are proud of. But you shouldn’t list them all in your resume. Listing 2-4 key achievements per role in your resume is a good rule of thumb.

Given resumes are now shorter documents than they used to be (I recall reading 15 page resumes in the 90s!), you need to be selective with the content you include.

It is important to choose key achievements that are the most aligned with the role you are applying for. Taking the time to tailor key achievements for every job you apply for may sound laborious. But I can assure you that the content will be more compelling, more relevant and more likely to secure you an interview with prospective employers.

Whilst I suggest listing 2-4 key achievements on your resume, you can consider listing more achievements on your LinkedIn profile (in the Experience section) if it makes sense for you to do so. That way, prospective employers can learn a little more about other skills, experience and achievements that support those outlined in your resume – this bolsters your professional story.

Articulating key achievements

Here’s how to form a resume worthy key achievement. Whilst it may seem a little daunting initially, using a formula of sorts helps.

Consider the questions below. They will help you collate information to form a compelling and articulate key achievement:

Example 1: 

What project or team where you in when the key achievement happened? CRM system upgrade used in a Call Centre of 75 staff

Team size? 20 staff (cross functional mix)

What was the budget for the project? $3.2 million

How long did the project/initiative run for? 3 months

What was your role in the project/initiative?  Worked as a Business Analyst working in an agile project team to improve efficiency in processing customer calls. Liaised extensively with call centre staff to ensure they understood how the changes would improve their efficiency

What did you personally deliver/achieve? Project came in ahead of time (by 10 days) with 96% call centre stakeholder satisfaction with the upgrade made

Once you have jotted down some notes answering the questions above, you are now ready to pull this information into an articulate key achievement:

Working within an agile team of 20, I was pivotal in upgrading a CRM system used within our Call Centre. Through workshops, stand ups and one on ones with key business stakeholders, I ensured we delivered this $3.2 million project, 10 days ahead of schedule with a 96% Call Centre staff satisfaction rate in the new features added to the system. 

Example 2. 

Here is another example. This time the key achievement example is demonstrated in more of an operational context:

What project or team where you in when the key achievement happened? Worked as the Head of Operations, tasked with reducing operational costs (specifically related to transport costs)

Team size? 150 people in the company

What was the budget for the project? I needed to find $150K worth of cost savings to the company

How long did the project/initiative run for? 3 months

What was your role in the project/initiative? Reviewed company P&L and identified key areas we could make savings. Negotiated with stock suppliers and transport partners. This resulted in reducing wholesale stock costs and transport costs

What did you personally deliver/achieve? Made savings of $172K annually for the company

So, pulling this content into a Key Achievement you might write something like:

Led a cost saving initiative across a 3 month period with annual savings of $172K annually (exceeding savings target by 15%). This involved negotiating more favourable wholesale supplier costings and negotiating a 10% reduction in transport costs.

Where should I list key achievements on my resume?

List relevant key achievements under each role within which they were accomplished. Whilst you can list key achievements for each of your roles throughout your career, the majority of applicants list key achievements for their more recent roles.

This is because more recent roles are likely to have involved achievements that align with the role you are applying for. However, if there were key achievements in earlier roles within your career, that demonstrate your knowledge of a specific sector, skill or competency, consider including those as well.

Not sure where to start? Seek feedback from others

It’s sometimes uncomfortable to “toot your own horn” as they say. If you are struggling with the exercise above, and cannot think of relevant key achievements, ask a colleague or valued mentor to assist you.

Other people who know you well, are often able to articulate your achievements and company contributions more readily than you can.

Stay in control of your professional profile

It is your responsibility to proactively manage your professional story in a compelling way. Key achievements are a powerful way of expressing your skills and experience in action.

See your resume, your LinkedIn profile and your other digital “assets” (eg. contribution to sector online forums, presence at industry events, Key Note speaker or panel opportunities etc) as your professional portfolio. When you take accountability for creating and curating your professional story, you will stand out from the crowd.

Does your resume or LinkedIn profile need an overhaul? I can help. Get in touch

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