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  • mattchung8

Stop Writing Boring CVs! - Write Achievement-Centric Resume Instead!




One of the biggest problems I see job seekers make with their resume Work experience is filling this section primarily with job duties and responsibilities.

Now, it’s understandable because this is how most people write their resume - they simply describe what they have done at current and previous employers.

The reason why this is a problem though is that job duties and responsibilities will neither make you stand out nor demonstrate how strong you are, leading to mediocre results and interview rates.

The solution? You have to make your Work Experience (quiet) achievement-centric. There is really nothing significant about one’s job duties because everyone is supposed to them anyway.

What truly separates an attention-grabbing resume from just average CVs are the accomplishments and the results you produced.

 

  1. What did you achieve? or How did your work stand out?

 

As I mentioned, simply listing what you have done doesn’t carry much impact because everyone in the same job would have done the same or similar work.

What will separate you from the competition is the difference you made with your work.

Here is an example of a job duty centric sentence (which is what you do NOT want), “Conducted daily sales & marketing tasks including lead generation, sales calls, and follow-up.”

Again, there is nothing special or impressive about it. Again, anyone with the same job would have probably done the identical set of tasks, right?

If you want to stand out and grab the employer’s attention, you need to discuss the difference you made.

 

Let’s say the result of your work was consistently exceeding the sales target. In such a case, you can write “Consistently exceeded the sales target through disciplined sales practices including lead generation, qualifying clients, product pitching and follow-up.”

 

The difference you made is that you exceeded your sales target over and over again – which is much more powerful than merely going through the motion.

 

You may ask, “But what if I haven’t achieved anything? I did not exceed my targets or there was no target. Can I still write result-driven experience?” Absolutely. In that case, the question we need to ask is, “how did your work stand out?”

 

Let’s say you didn’t exceed any target but, instead, you met over 95% of weekly sales KPIs during your stay. That is still much more meaningful than simply listing out what you did.

You can write something like this: “Achieved over 95% of weekly sales KPIs including lead generation, sales calls, and follow-up.”

Does this make sense?

 

Here is another example of a duty-driven work experience.

“Managed a multi-year, regional e-commerce program while working closely with the product team and stakeholders.”

 

Though, at first, it may sound like important work, again, managing large programs and working with stakeholders is what any worthwhile program manager would need to do - leaving us with nothing outstanding about this experience.

 

So instead, let’s ask the question, “what did you achieve?”

 

Let’s say the program was successfully delivered. We can say, “Successfully delivered and managed a multi-year, regional e-commerce program on time while working closely with the product team and stakeholders.”

 

Let’s look at another example, “Provided detailed, accurate, and timely status updates to key stakeholders throughout the program duration.” As positive as it may sound, this is not what we are looking for, because it is simply a job duty.

 

Instead, let’s say that the key stakeholders were really happy with the quality of your status updates and provided positive feedback throughout the program duration. This is how your work stands out.

 

Then you can write your experience like this, “Consistently obtained positive feedback from key stakeholders and users by providing detailed, accurate and timely status updates throughout the program duration.”

 

Sometimes, I hear job seekers saying that they didn’t really accomplish anything because they only facilitated or helped someone else (for example their clients). Often people who work in consulting struggle with this.

 

In such a case, helping your client produce results is precisely your accomplishment. Whether it be helping them to launch a product, increase their revenue or meet some other goals, that is what you need to emphasize in your CV.

 

Here is an ordinary, no-impact example, “Assisted in project delivery by pinpointing bottlenecks and resolving inter-team communication issues for the client.”

 

And here is a much better version, “Enabled the client to successfully launch their flagship product without delay by pinpointing potential project bottlenecks and resolving inter-team communication issues.”

 

Let’s look at one more example:

Instead of saying, “Provided intuitive and automated accounting solutions to [a client, or a different department],” you want to write, “Provided intuitive and automated accounting solutions to [a client] resulting in manual process elimination and faster quarterly/annual report generation.

 

 

  1. The next question you need to answer is “By how much?”

The first question was “What did you achieve?” Or “How did your work stand out?”. The next question is “By how much?” In other words, indicate the numbers and figures of your results or contribution. By including numbers and stats, your story and achievements become that much more concrete and convincing.

For example, going back to our earlier examples,

“Consistently exceeded the sales target through disciplined sales practices including lead generation, qualifying clients, product pitching, and follow-up.”

Now, by how much or by what percent, did you exceed the sales target? Let’s say the answer is 10-20% every year in the last 3 years. We can say “Consistently exceeded the sales target by 10-20% in the last 3 years through disciplined sales practices including lead gen, client qualification, product pitching and, active follow-up.”

 

In our earlier example, “Provided intuitive and automated accounting solutions to [the client] resulting in faster quarterly/annual report generation and manual process elimination,” the questions we can ask are “how much faster was the report generation, and by how much were the manual processes reduced?

And then we can write it in this way, “Provided intuitive and automated accounting solutions to [the client] resulting in eliminating 75% of manual processes and 50% faster quarterly/annual report generation.” You can see how big of a difference it makes in terms of the impact.

 

Even in situations where it’s not obvious how to quantify results, we can still use numbers. For example,

“Enabled the client to successfully launch their flagship product without delay by pinpointing potential project bottlenecks and resolving inter-team communication issues.

We can make this more convincing as follows, “Enabled the client to launch their flagship product without delay by pinpointing over 20 potential project bottlenecks and resolving inter-team communication issues involving 7 countries/regions.

 

Here is the last one. “Consistently obtained positive feedback from key stakeholders and users by providing detailed, accurate and timely status updates throughout the program duration.

You can potentially rewrite it by adding the duration over which you had consistent, positive feedback, like this. “Consistently achieved positive feedback from key stakeholders and the product team over the entire program duration of 12 months by providing detailed, accurate and timely status updates.

Hope this is helpful.

 

  1.  What was the significance?

Now, if you take care of the first two questions – what did you achieve and by how much, you will likely already have a respectable work experience section that is better than most job seekers out there. But this last question (What was the significance?) will truly take your profile to the next level and make you stand out..

The main reason why this question has such a huge impact is because, often, the reader has little idea about just how meaningful your achievement was.

 

Again, let’s use one of our earlier examples.

“Achieved over 95% of weekly sales KPIs including lead generation, sales calls, and follow-up throughout the year.”

As much as it sounds like you’re a disciplined, hard-working person, we also have no idea how difficult the KPIs were and how you fared compared to the rest of the team. If 80% of the team achieved the same result, obviously, it’s not going to be as meaningful whereas if only 5% of the team achieved it, it’ll be a completely different story.

Let’s say that, in our case, only two people out of a 30 ppl team achieved 95% of higher rate. Then you may want to write, “Achieved over 95% of weekly sales KPI target including lead gen, sales, calls, and follow-up (Less than 10% of the team achieved this result).”

This provides a much more concrete and attractive context for your experience.

 

Here is one more example: 

“Helped [client, stakeholders, team] increase their e-commerce engagement by 30% through data-driven advertisement and A/B testing.”

 

This time, let’s say your work led to the highest amount of user engagement to date. You should say:

“Helped [client, stakeholders, team] increase their e-commerce engagement by 30% through data-driven advertisement and A/B testing. This was the highest amount of user engagement for the client to date.”

 

By answering these three questions (What did you achieve, By How much, and What was the significance?), you can immediately, and without any doubt, communicate the most impactful and impressive details of your Work Experience.

This is precisely how you convince hiring managers through your resume and consistently get results leading to first interviews.

 

 

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