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How To Write A Great Accomplishment Statement

accomplishment, resume, job search, interview, career planning,     how to write a, job interview, hiring manager, career planning, hiring company, job search, statement, recruitment, energy, interviews, employment, accomplishment, statements, accomplishments, tell, ear, grabs If you are regular reader, you may notice that another recent post showed someone similarly posed.  That post was about signaling strength during job interviews.  So it pictured a young boy flexing his muscles.

Today’s photo shows someone who has just accomplished something great.  In her case, the completion of her 365 day self portrait project that she shared on flickr.

I used this picture because writing a great accomplishment statement is just the beginning of the conversation about you.  It is the result of a story you should be telling in your marketing documents.  Stories that illustrate your impact in the world.

Writing great accomplishment statements is a key step in the new job search strategy software (Helps you find the right job faster). Have you seen the intro video?

So there’s a bigger story.  And there’s an element of passion.  An energy about your great works in prior companies.  And the better you do this, the better a hiring manager can envision you doing similar things for their department or company.

And the accomplishment statements you write are your way to engage the reader.  So that you will be granted an interview.  An audience to tell your stories and share your energy.

So they have to be good.  Well written.  They also have to be relevant and measurable.

Also remember not to mix them up with your responsibilities.  I shared this and other tips as part of the tutorial introducing my favorite resume and CV template.

So to help you think about how to write a great accomplishment statement, I thought I would illustrate an example for you.  And then walk you through each part.  Here it is via video:

And here is a step by step written out:

1.  Action: There’s a great list of action verbs at Quint Careers. You can use a few of those or think up your own.  But make sure that your leading words suggest movement, ownership and leadership.

2.  Relevant Topic: What does your target company care about?  What do you know about the role this person will play?  With a solid knowledge of your likely audience, you can focus on the right topics.

3.  Impact: You need a word here that clearly states what happened.  In this case, something got reduced. And that is a good thing.  Make sure the positive impact you had is clearly stated.

4. Key Metric: What was impacted?  Make sure that metric is also relevant and measurable in the way your industry defines it.  In an economy where budgets are heavily scrutinized, your ability to measure and report will be important.  No matter what your role is in the company.

5.  Benefit: Accomplishment statements need numbers.  Something tangible like a % increase/decrease, $ revenue up or $ cost down.  And you can strengthen the benefit by adding a second short sentence to answer the “so what” question.  In this case, you could add: “BENEFIT: Delivered new revenues 6 months sooner than expected.”  That’s a nice surprise. 

So what if you charted out your key accomplishments like this?  Sound like a lot of work?  I’ll bet if you do it for a few, you’ll get the idea.  And have this structure in your mind as you write or re-write the rest.

What are your favorite action words?

Or better yet.

Share (via a comment below) your best accomplishment statement and I’ll give it a review.

Want to get some live feedback?  Consider a “power hour” with me:

career, coaching, brainstorming, ideas, strategy, positive, confident, action, power hour




Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Cover Letters And Resumes
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  • Suzanne

    Hi Tim — 2 questions. 
    1) One of the reasons I’m still un[der]employed is that I didn’t track my accomplishments in the past.  I’m going to act on Karen Siwak’s storytelling ideas and re-examine my experiences. Maybe in the process I’ll discover some accomplishments. Do you have any other recommendations? 2) One time I remember making an impact was when I reorganized the group of lowest-level workers so that they were self-organizing and communicated clearly with the director. They were doing their work all right before, but the director didn’t trust them and the group felt bad about the director. Unfortunately this story lies too far in my past to be used (about 20 years — yeah, I’m not 44 any more). But is there some way I could use that story as an accomplishment even without any time or money benefits?Thanks,Suzanne 

    • Suzanne

      Clarification on question 2):
      After I reorganized the group, the director trusted the group and had clear information about their progress earlier, and the group members were more confident, more cooperative, and more orderly. When my new system had taken solid hold, I stopped working with the group and went back to my front-line microscope. 

      • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

        Hi Suzanne – It is hard to build them from memory.  I realize that!  But it can be done through an interview process.  If you want to get in touch I can help you with that part.  In addition to remembering key ways you made an impact, you can also try to remember positive events in the company’s history and attach work that you did to that accomplishment.  You should always have a benefit to any accomplishment.  Without one, people will just read it and think: “so what”.

        • Suzanne

          Thanks, Tim!

        • http://www.facebook.com/geoster Geoff McNeely

          Wow Tim! This one little comment of yours shined more light on my quest to quantify my past accomplishments! “remember positive events in the company’s history and attach work that you did to that accomplishment.”

          That one tidbit just opened up a huge door for me! Thank you!

          And for anyone out there struggling with quantifying your past because 1) you never bothered to track accomplishments or 2) you worked for startups that failed or products that failed, I offer my epiphany here for your consideration.

          I’ve found it hard to imagine the value I created or the contribution I made when the company went under or things didn’t go as planned. This is my biggest source of intimidation in my spotty, generalist career story. But I submit: I produced a redesign of our website and branding that contributed to the company’s acquisition by a competitor. [I’ll have to work on the key metric language, but it’s way better than “finished the website in time for the company to dissolve…”]

          And iterations/failing fast are now the fashion in start-ups so I also have: “Conducted an exhaustive market survey that demonstrated a complete lack of traction for the company’s vision, providing justification for killing the product line and focusing on another line of business.”

          Sometimes a failure can lead to an even bigger success, and that is also an accomplishment!


          • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

            Glad to help you pull something out of the hat!  And, yes, it is hard to find successful events in failure.  Bet there is always something . . .

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  • @csteckb

    Tim – great post, helpful for consultants as well. Thanks!

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Great!  Glad you found it helpful.  :-)

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  • Maha

    Great article and your advise is easy to implement.

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  • Diana

    I love reading articles like that but it so hard to put it down what you did. :( Its like you need a writer that can help you with it.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Hi Diana – Fair point. It’s not easy to do this, I understand. If you have anyone in your life who can write, perhaps they can help? Hopefully this was at least able to point you in the right direction?

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