Are you making this critical mistake on your resume?


Let’s talk about the resume, whose fundamental purpose is to get you to an interview…Of course, once you get to an interview you are one step closer to a job. Unfortunately, most of us in job search struggle to get to interviews and often wonder why.


The resume is your professional calling card which outlines companies you have worked for, in what roles, for what duration as well as your education and professional development among other things. While it is important to adapt your resume for each job you apply for (apparently only around half of job applicants do this), that’s really only half the story.

The single most important thing to include on your resume are achievements.

Achievements should be related to the work you have done in each role and ideally matched up against the requirements of the job you are applying for (e.g. If the advertiser is looking for someone with great stakeholder management, you should include several achievements pertaining to this in your resume).

Many clients I see as a career coach fail to include achievements in their resumes and only include responsibilities or tasks they ‘did’ in each role. This is a critical mistake. There are many financial analysts, marketing managers and other roles out there, all of whom fundamentally do the same tasks. However, what most resumes miss is how well you did the job, or what value you added and what problems you solved. Achievements can relate to things like:

  • Cost savings
  • Productivity improvements
  • Systems or procedures you developed that helped the business
  • Innovative solutions to existing problems (e.g. a new procedure)
  • Major sales closed
  • A promotion (and the reasons for it, such as excellent performance)
  • Significant achievements (e.g. Employee of the Year; President’s Club)

“Achievements on your resume make you stand out because they raise interest for the reader.  They indicate the value you have added and the problems you have solved in your last organisation and which makes you an attractive candidate.  So attractive, employers will want to ask you in for an interview!”

For each role on your resume going back 8-12 years (current roles most interviewers are interested in), in addition to adding your responsibilities or the essence of what you did in the job (5-7 bullet points), make sure you add 3-5 achievements pertaining to that role.

When developing your achievements, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure they are brief – No more than 2 to 2.5 lines.  Too long and they become wordy and difficult to read during a first, cursory review of your resume
  • Try and incorporate situation, solution and outcome or benefit of each achievement
  • Quantify if you can.  Use percentages, numbers, or currency ($) figures.  This not only gives your achievement some scale, but also makes the achievement stand out.  If there’s a number on a page of text, our eyes will find it very quickly, so including numbers in your achievement, will draw the reader to your achievement.

What are some examples of strong achievements?

  • Designed, implemented and managed an inventory management system that saved $100K in the first year of operation
  • Automated an existing employee induction process which contributed to reducing early tenure turnover by 25%
  • Received the IT Manager of the Year award in 2014 for leading the X system upgrade which was delivered on time and under budget by 10%
  • Developed a customer focused culture in the call centre team which saw customer satisfaction (CSAT) rise from 2.8 to 4.2 on a 5 point scale in 12 months

Make your resume stand out for all the right reasons by adding achievements and you’ll see the immediate difference this will make in getting you to interviews.

For any assistance with career coaching covering resumes, interview skills, LinkedIn profiles or networking, contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.