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Using Accomplishments Effectively
Accomplishments are most effective when you keep the following in mind:
- Try to list accomplishments that are specific and measurable
- Quantify whenever possible, giving a context to explain why that statistic is significant.
- Use words like "first," "only," "best," "most,"
- For every accomplishment you list, ask yourself, "so what?" Does the item you've
listed truly characterize your ability to contribute to the type of work you are
Here is an example of a job description summary in a resume, using accomplishments
to boost the impact:
Fund Raiser, St. Basil’s Community Centre
- organized a successful annual fundraiser (silent auction)
- received over 100 donations from private industries within a 10-week period
- prepared an advertising campaign, which attracted over 500 visitors within the community,
a 25% increase over the past year’s performance
- distributed news releases to local media, resulting in extensive coverage of the
event as well as an interview on a popular local radio station
Brainstorming for Accomplishments
The following two exercises are designed to help you look at your experiences in
an accomplishments-based way. Exercise A is for those with mostly typical student
experiences, and Exercise B is for those with significant paid experience. Respond
to as many of the questions as you can (some questions will not be relevant).
Exercise A (for those with mostly student-type work experiences)
There is a wide variety of student experiences that can help you develop the skills
needed for the work world. For this exercise, consider internships, summer jobs,
campus jobs, temporary, entrepreneurial/self-employed jobs, volunteer work, classroom
experiences, and extracurricular activities. Read the Getting Work Experience guide for more advice
on these topics.
Brainstorm responses to the questions below and be sure to explain the context for
- What technical accomplishments have you had? Did you write a software program or
design a web page?
- What competitions did you excel in? What superlatives can you list, such as the
highest grade, the best test score, the strongest essay?
- What creative accomplishments have you had? Were any of your poetry, plays, stories,
music, art published, performed, or exhibited?
- What leadership positions have you held that demonstrate relevant skills? Were you
elected or hand-picked by a supervisor for additional responsibilities? (Also list
situations in which you chose to take on additional responsibilities.)
- What community service projects did you undertake and what were the results of your
- What ideas have you come up with to improve the organizations with which you've
- List situations in which you've managed budgets, or raised, collected or managed
- Give examples of ways you have exhibited interpersonal skills. How have you demonstrated
teamwork? List situations in which you were required to deal with the public.
- List situations in which you have trained, taught or oriented organization members.
- List situations in which you were required to juggle many projects simultaneously
under deadline pressure.
Exercise B (for those with significant full-time paid work experience)
Go through the exercise once for each relevant work experience.
- In this job, what special things did you do to set yourself apart? How did you take
the initiative? How did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job
- Were you promoted? What special things did you do that impressed your supervisor?
- How has the organization benefited from your performance? Did you save money/time,
or make work easier? How did/will you leave this employer better off than before
you worked there?
- Did you receive formal feedback from supervisors or clients on your performance?
List any glowing quotes from your reviews to support your accomplishments.
- List any awards you won, such as Employee of the Month, President's Club.
- What tangible evidence do you have of accomplishments -- publications you've produced,
products you've developed, software applications you've written?
- Did you build relationships or create a positive image of the organization? How
did you attract new customers or retain existing ones? Did you expand the business?
- How did you help the organization fulfill its mission statement?
- What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced? What did
you do to overcome the problems? What were the results of your efforts? (This is
called the STAR technique - describe a Situation or Task, the Action you took, and
the Results achieved).
The above 2 exercise have been adapted from Quintessential Careers – for a more
comprehensive version visit their site for the Accomplishments Worksheet.
Looking for the Right Word?
Here’s a sample list of action words to make your accomplishments stand out. Use
action words in the present tense if they refer to a position you currently hold.