Write Winning Achievement Bullets: Top Resume Tips
Build the Best Resume with Strong Achievement Statements
Achievement statements are the most important part of your resume. They can also be the most challenging part to write. Here are the tips from our team of recruiters and professional resume writers to craft winning achievement bullets to land the interview. Scroll down to find our formula for success!
Your resume is your chance to make a strong first impression on a potential employer. It can make or break your chances of getting your dream job. This is why it is essential to understand the importance of crafting a winning resume that stands out from the rest. Our team of professional resume writers, recruiters, and coaches put together the following tips to help you build the strongest achievement bullets possible. We'll walk you through the basics of building an applicant-tracking system-friendly resume that also stands out to the hiring managers. So, let's get started!
Understanding Resumes and Their Importance
To build effective achievement bullets, it is important to first understand the basics of building strong resumes and why it matters. Resumes go through several steps in the hiring process and they are subject to a variety of screening tools. If you want that resume to help you land a job offer, here is what you really need to know about resumes and the hiring process.
The Role of a Resume in the Hiring Process
Nearly every job requires you to submit a resume to be officially considered for the position. A good resume should function as a marketing tool for you that provides a snapshot of your suitability for a specific job. This resume will go through many steps with you in the hiring process. First, you will have to submit it to the human resources team. In most cases, it will go through a system that scans the resume. From there, it will be reviewed by a recruiter to determine if you meet the qualifications of the role. If that person thinks that you may be a fit, then they will schedule a screening interview with you.
Next, you will be submitted to the hiring manager for consideration. If that person is interested, the next step will be an interview (or 3) with various people that the person selected for the job will work with. So, the resume is reviewed by tons of people and systems in the hiring process. Starting with these steps in mind is key to understanding how to build the right talking points on your resume and how to flesh out the achievement bullets to springboard those conversations for all of the different people in the process.
The Impact of a Well-Written Resume
A resume is also the first thing that hiring managers see about you. So, you need a well-written resume to secure that interview. There are tons of resume templates and resume builders out there, but they don't help you put the right content on the resume. So, make sure that you are also thinking about incorporating all the details that you want the hiring manager to know right on your resume.
Most hiring managers are interested primarily in your achievements. They want to know what you have accomplished, the skills you used, and why you were motivated to obtain those results. You can demonstrate your value to the hiring manager by communicating your relevant experience in a clear and concise manner. So, take the time to perfect your resume and make a lasting impression on hiring managers.
Crafting an ATS-Friendly Resume
To really understand how to build winning achievement bullets, you also need to understand the role of the applicant tracking system (ATS) in the hiring process. These systems all scan the resume for keywords and phrases that are relevant to the jobs that you are applying for. This means that the words on the page of your resume are essential. By following these strategies, you can increase the chances of your resume getting past ATS and reaching human recruiters.
What is an Applicant Tracking System?
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is software used by employers to manage job applications. Over 98% of all Fortune 500 Companies use an ATS to manage their applicants and over 70% of all other employers use some form of ATS in their hiring processes. So, it is nearly impossible to avoid these systems when applying for jobs. All ATS are built around keywords and evaluate the fit of a candidate based on the information that they have available from your resume or online application. This means that you cannot wait to include information to get the interview. Instead, you need to build a resume that has everything needed to get the interview.
Key Elements to Include for ATS Compatibility
There are tons of resume writing tips out there, but the most important ones start with creating an ATS-optimized resume. First and foremost, these programs cannot typically read highly formatted resumes. They are entirely focused on the words on your resume. In fact, an average of 75% of people are stuck in that black hole of the ATS - never to be seen by a real person in the hiring process. Staying out of that black hole starts with a resume that has minimal formatting with a focus on the content rather than visuals on your resume. This may not be ideal to everyone, but it will ensure that your information gets into the employer's system and that you aren't automatically disqualified from the job. Balancing your text and white space is crucial for creating an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read resume.
Second, the ATS programs are scanning your resume for keywords and job titles. This means that you need to incorporate keywords and phrases throughout your resume to get past the bots so that real people can appreciate your achievement bullets. For most people, this means that a one-page resume simply won't work. Instead, focus on building the right content first with the right keywords and achievements before getting too concerned about how long it is or whether you have the right resume examples. This strategy will inevitably result in you building a strong ATS-compatible resume that will help you to land the interview.
The Art of Writing Achievement Bullets
Now that you know the importance of the ATS, let's dive right into our expert tips for building winning Achievement bullets.
Understanding Achievement Bullets
As noted above, the achievement bullets on your resume are the statements about your results. These are not merely statements about what you do, but are instead what results you have obtained. The achievement bullets are some of the most important parts of your resume because that is what helps you to stand out against other candidates. To make sure hiring managers can find them, you will want to keep them in a bullet format and out of paragraphs.
By emphasizing your skills, abilities, and successes, achievement bullets help recruiters understand the value you can bring to their organization. To make an impact, it is essential that each bullet is concise yet impactful. Utilize a combination of metrics, outcomes, and tangible results to highlight your achievements. These achievement bullets provide a clear picture of your capabilities and make your resume stand out from the competition.
Formula to Write Impactful Achievement Bullets
A well-crafted achievement bullet tells the person skimming your resume what you accomplished in an impactful way. The basic formula for an effective achievement bullet is:
Action Verb + Result + Skill + Who You Worked With + What You Did
You can use this formula to craft an achievement bullet for your resume. Simply plug in your details to make a strong achievement bullet. Be as specific as you can in conveying your results. This can also help you to come up with the details needed to make a compelling statement. However, the bullet does need to make sense. So, you may have to tweak this general formula slightly for it to result in the strongest achievement bullet possible.
Tips to Quantify Your Qualitative Experience
Now that you know the winning achievement formula, it is important to also remember that the strongest achievement bullets include numbers of some kind. Using numbers, percentages, or timeframes adds credibility and demonstrates the impact of your experience. Including metrics that showcase the scope and scale of your accomplishments can also leave a lasting impression. Highlight any cost savings, revenue increases, or efficiency improvements to showcase your effectiveness.
However, years of experience in something by itself is not an achievement. This is simply time served rather than a result. Instead, it is a good idea to think more specifically about what results you have achieved over those years of experience. And, make sure to provide context to help the reader understand the significance of your achievements and how they relate to the overall success of your previous roles. Quantifying your qualitative experience is a great way to make your resume stand out.
Examples of Strong Achievement Bullets for New Grads
New graduates may find it difficult to create strong achievement bullets on their resume because they have less experience. But, most new grads have volunteering, internships, or other experiences to help them point to results that are relevant to land the first role in their career.
Here are some examples of strong achievement bullets for new grads:
Achieved a 30% increase in brand engagement by designing, developing, and launching a successful TikTok campaign.
Grew sales by 20% with strong organizational skills as a key part of the cross-functional team that launched a new product line.
Raised over $10,000 as the leader of the committee that organized and produced a charity event.
Examples of Strong Achievement Bullets for Experienced Professionals
Experienced professionals may have more experience than new grads, but it can feel just as challenging to prepare achievement bullets for their resumes. This is often because they are focused on the results/priorities and may not keep track of all the numbers or they simply lose track of them over time. So, take the time and start tracking those results now if you want your resume to stand out.
A few examples of strong achievement bullets for experienced professionals are:
Reduced project delivery time by 20% by streamlining and standardizing internal processes.
Increased annual revenues by 15% by negotiating, structuring, and closing key partnerships that opened new sales channels.
Saved over $500,000 in annual costs through identification, implementation, and training of staff in comprehensive cost-saving initiatives requiring executive buy-in.
Examples of Strong Achievement Bullets for People Managers
People pursuing jobs that lead others must also include achievement bullets about their results as people managers. This helps to show that not only can you manage people, but that you can lead them to achieve results. A few examples of achievement bullets for people leaders are:
Led up to 20 direct and indirect reports with full accountability for the multi-million dollar P&L to exceed all financial targets for multiple consecutive years.
Increased employee retention and engagement by 20% through the roll-out of robust learning & development programs to facilitate career pathways for top talent.
Promoted 5 direct reports into leadership roles over 5 years as the direct coach and champion of their success across the matrixed enterprise.
Highlighting Your Work Experience
The strongest resumes will include achievement statements in both career highlights and the descriptions of specific roles. These resumes will not repeat the same results, but they will capture the best and role-specific results to show consistent success across your career. Thus, incorporating the results across the resume sections is key. Keep in mind the following when trying to incorporate your accomplishments in the experience section of your resume.
Listing Relevant Work Experience
Each role that you have had should have separate identification on your resume. This means that your resume should clearly state the name of the company, your job title, and years in the specific role. Most people expect to see your experience listed in reverse-chronological format. Thus, start with the most recent job and work your way backward on your resume.
People also expect to see the details and results in your most recent roles, namely the last 10 - 15 years. This is the first time that the recruiter and hiring manager will learn about you. So, the level of detail in these more recent roles is important. Provide several achievement bullets for each of these roles. You can do that using the formula listed above.
Quantify Your Career Highlights
You can also call attention to your biggest results across your career by incorporating these details before you dive into the specific results. These results may have been obtained in your volunteer work or your professional experience. The key to an effective career highlights section is to draw attention to the most relevant results for the hiring manager. Showcasing the results and outcomes of your projects or initiatives is a great way to impress hiring managers and stand out from the competition.
Incorporate the Skills Used in Each Role
Incorporating your key skills used in each entry in your experience section will also help you showcase your transferable skills. This is an easy way to scatter those critical keywords across your resume without creating laundry lists of buzzwords. Instead, you are able to provide specific examples of those skills throughout your career. For example, you can mention how you applied your problem-solving skills to overcome challenges or utilized your technical expertise to streamline processes. By illustrating how your key skills have made a difference in your work, you can effectively demonstrate your abilities to potential employers.
Best Practices to Incorporate Keywords in Accomplishment Bullets
When incorporating keywords into your accomplishment bullets, it's important to do so naturally. Showcase your achievements while including relevant keywords that resonate with the job description and industry. Using action verbs can help add impact and relevancy to your accomplishments. Quantifying your achievements is also a great way to highlight your skills and qualifications. Finally, be sure to place keywords strategically within each accomplishment bullet to maximize their effectiveness. By following these best practices, you'll create accomplishment bullets that effectively incorporate keywords and enhance the overall quality of your resume.
Avoiding Common Mistakes When Writing Accomplishments
Mistakes in writing accomplishments can result in the loss of an opportunity or the ability to convey key information to the hiring manager. Here are the most common mistakes in writing achievement bullets and how to avoid them on your resume.
Lack of Clarity
Ambiguity in the achievement bullets can make it hard to find the impact. This can come in the form of too many words, lack of result, lack of skills, or the lack of focus on what YOU did to achieve the result. Instead, the best practice is to start with the result and focus on what you did to achieve the result. Editing accomplishment statements is key to removing the ambiguity to keep them clear and concise for everyone to appreciate.
Many people make the mistake of incorporating non-relevant details in their accomplishment statements. This dilutes the value of the statement and makes it easy for the hiring manager to overlook. To avoid this common mistake, start with the result in your accomplishment bullet as provided in the formula above. This makes it easier for the reader to find what matters and for you to focus on crafting a clear statement.
Forgetting About Your Role & Strengths to Obtain Them
Another common mistake in creating an achievement bullet is the failure to focus on what you did. It may seem odd, but people often forget to talk about what they did in their resume. Instead, they will focus on what the team or company did or does. Avoid this mistake by focusing all of your achievement bullets on what you did to support or achieve that result. This will pique the interest of the hiring manager and make it easier for you to provide clear examples in your interview.
Not Tailoring the Resume
The easiest mistake for jobseekers to make is the failure to tailor their resume to different jobs. This is because it already takes so much time to apply for positions and most people underestimate the importance of modifying their resumes to the specific job ad. You can avoid this mistake by not only including important information in the skills and experience section, but also customizing the accomplishment bullets to reflect the relevant results for the particular job that you are applying for. By tailoring your resume, you will know what information is relevant by reviewing the job posting and creating a targeted resume for that role - if you really want it. By incorporating these strategies, you can effectively emphasize your role and strengths to obtain the desired results and that will help you to land the interview.
Spelling and Grammar Errors
The main points of your experience will be lost if you forget to check for spelling and grammar errors. People will assume that you have poor communication skills and attention to detail if you fail to take this important step. Take the time to proofread your resume multiple times, paying close attention to punctuation, sentence structure, and overall clarity. Utilize grammar-checking tools like Google Docs to ensure accuracy and catch any mistakes you may have missed. Additionally, seek feedback from others to further identify and correct errors. Finally, don't forget to double-check the spelling and grammar of your contact information, as even a small error can make a negative impression on potential employers.
Another common mistake for experienced professionals is forgetting to focus on the more recent achievements and certifications. Although you may have done some great things in your career, the hiring team is most interested in your recent results. If you keep dated achievements on your resume or emphasize them in the wrong way, you are likely to lose the opportunity. Instead, keep your resume focused on the recent results and certifications. Regularly updating your accomplishments and certifications will ensure that your resume reflects your most recent successes.
Underestimating the Importance of the Result
Underestimating the importance of the result can hinder the effectiveness of your resume. This is because people outside of your current organization may not be familiar with what you have done or why it matters. So, make sure to provide the context that enables people to skim your resume to see why that result matters. Emphasize the value you brought to your previous employers or projects, and connect your achievements to the overall success of the team or organization. Highlighting how your results contribute to the company's goals and objectives shows that you understand how to work collaboratively while also maintaining focus on the bigger picture.
Forgetting to Tie Back to the Business
When crafting your resume for a new role, it's crucial to avoid forgetting to tie back to the business. Showcasing how your achievements align with the company's mission and values demonstrates your understanding and commitment. It's also important to highlight how your contributions positively impact the bottom line, as this helps the hiring manager see the value you bring. Additionally, connect your achievements to the specific needs and challenges of the business, and explain how your skills and experiences can help the company achieve its goals. By doing so, you'll make a strong case for why you're the ideal candidate.
The Final Check Before Sending Your Resume
Before you hit send on your resume, make sure to conduct a thorough final check. Proofreading is essential to catch any spelling or grammatical errors that may have slipped through. Additionally, carefully review your contact information, ensuring that your phone number and email address are accurate and up to date. Take the time to ensure that the formatting and font are consistent throughout the resume, creating a professional and polished appearance. Lastly, review the content itself to ensure its accuracy and relevance to the job application. Consider using online tools or asking a trusted friend for a second opinion on your resume.
If you haven't already done so, make sure to ditch that email address you've used since high school and choose a professional email provider like Gmail or Outlook to create a professional alternative. Use your name. Add any relevant social media handles as well. Most professionals will include Twitter handle and LinkedIn URL on their resumes. Creative professionals could also consider adding relevant links to Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest profiles.
Importance of Proofreading
Proofreading plays a crucial role in creating a professional and error-free resume. It helps ensure that there are no grammar or spelling mistakes that can reflect poorly on your attention to detail. By correcting these errors, you improve the readability and clarity of your resume. Additionally, proofreading allows you to identify any inconsistencies or outdated information that may be present. A well-polished resume increases your chances of being noticed by recruiters, making it an essential step in the resume writing process.
What are the Key Elements to Review?
When reviewing your resume, pay attention to key elements such as your contact information, work experience, relevant skills, bullet points showcasing achievements, and any missing or inconsistent information. Verify accuracy, update where necessary, and ensure your resume effectively showcases your qualifications.
Advantages of Using Resume Writing Services
For many people, there is real value to partnering with a resume writing service to build the strongest achievement bullets. This is because companies like The Contingent Plan have worked with countless others in your field and they know what hiring managers are looking for. A professional resume writing service will also know what others in your field have done and how you can best capture that information while also getting through the ATS. These services help you stand out among other applicants by highlighting your strengths and achievements effectively. Skilled writers craft resumes that meet industry standards, increasing your chances of securing interviews. By utilizing a resume writing service, you save time and effort in creating a high-quality resume that aligns with your career goals.
To write a winning resume, you must understand the importance of resumes and their role in job applications. A well-written resume can have a significant impact on your chances of getting hired. Crafting an ATS-friendly resume is also crucial, as many companies now use Applicant Tracking Systems to screen resumes. Pay attention to resume formatting essentials, such as choosing the appropriate format, using a professional font and size, ensuring proper margins and alignment, and including your contact information.
When writing achievement bullets, remember to focus on quantifiable accomplishments and highlight your relevant work experience. Identify the skills that were used to obtain your accomplishments and demonstrate them through specific examples. Keywords also play a vital role in resumes, so be sure to identify and incorporate relevant keywords throughout your accomplishment bullets.
Avoid common mistakes such as lack of clarity, including non-relevant details, forgetting to tie back to the business, and spelling and grammar errors. Before sending your resume, always perform a final check and proofread for any mistakes.
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