Get a Better Job: Choose the Right Resume Achievement Statements

What would you say if I told you that you could be happier on your next job if you did one simple thing on your resume?

Give more resume real estate to projects and responsibilities you LIKE doing, and less to tasks you don't like.

This technique of highlighting what you want to do next (rather than what you don't want to do) leans on my philosophy: Your resume is about your future, not your past. In a nutshell: Use your resume to paint a word picture of your future, not your past.

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Giving the Right Achievements More Real Estate

Let's say you're a salesperson who loves going out in the field, meeting folks, and chatting up your products. Unfortunately, in your current job you only get to do that about 33% of the time. The other 66% of your work week is spent in the office doing administrative tasks that you're not particularly fond of. For your next job, you'd like to spend way more time in the field and much less time behind a desk.

Here's a way to ask for that: On your resume, switch those percentages around! About 66% of your bullet points should be about sales, and about 33% about administration. For instance, if you have six bullet point statements under your current job, the first three or four should be about your sales achievements, and the last one or two should be about administration. See how you've redefined yourself for your next job? You haven't lied about your experience, you've simply reframed it.

Instead of this (four administrative statements and two sales statements):

  • Worked with analysts to interpret sales data and set monthly quotas.
  • Upgraded department IT system to ensure compatibility with sales offices in 36 other regions.
  • Implemented HR guidelines to comply with federal and state hiring requirements.
  • Created support and training systems, which maximized team effectiveness.
  • Produced 57% of team sales in the second year.
  • Attained 49% close ratio and 20-66% higher margins than industry norms.

Write this (four sales statements and two administrative statements):

  • Produced 57% of team sales in the second year.
  • Attained 49% close ratio and 20-66% higher margins than industry norms.
  • Expanded sales territory by 12% through aggressive cold calling and networking.
  • Voted MVP of the sales team for the last five quarters.
  • Worked with analysts to interpret sales data and set monthly quotas.
  • Upgraded department IT system to ensure compatibility with sales offices in 36 other regions.

In the above example, notice that the order of the statements was changed: Sales statements are listed first, followed by the administrative statements. Listing your most relevant achievement statements first is another technique for reframing your past to paint a word picture of the future you want.


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Susan Ireland Resume Author Susan Ireland is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume and creator of Susan Ireland's Ready-Made Resume Builder.