How to write a resume – Work History (part 2)

Most people find the achievement statements to be the hardest part of the work history section to complete. For each position you’ve held, you need to have a number of achievement statements that show the both the skill and the level of ability. Part 1 refers to the employer and positions details

Work History

Achievement statements describe the skills you have and the result of applying those skills. When constructing achievement statements, write them with a focus on the needs of the position, this will make it easier for the reader to understand how you will be able to help them, and address the needs they have. Each achievement statement will need to provide the reader with 3 pieces of information; what you did (the action), to what or whom (the focus) and the positive affect you achieved (the result).

What you did – describes the action you took, such as “negotiated”, “designed”, “constructed” etc. Use the strongest action verb you can as this will catch the readers’ attention.

To what or who – you may also add in here the context to the statement, for example time or money constraints especially if it helps to highlight the level of skill you’re describing, and can directly speak to the needs of the open position.

The result – what impact did you achieve. The strongest achievement statements quantify the impact. Choose either percentages or numbers depending on which one makes the result more powerful. Statements which include a number quantifying the result are more powerful than statements without them. For more senior positions all your achievement statements need to be quantified.

Creating achievement statements.

There are essentially three steps to creating achievement statements:

Step 1.

List all your achievements for each position. Don’t worry about the wording in this instance, we just want a list of achievements. To help you identify your achievements, think of times or events when you have been successful. If you get stuck, try going through this list to jog your memory:

  • Job Description: Since you want to show the new employer you can do the job they’re advertising, use their job description to guide you. Ideally you want to come up with at least one achievement for each requirement they have.
  • Performance Reviews: If your previous organizations conducted regular performance feedback reviews or appraisals, look through your those.
  • Feedback: Can you recall times when you received positive feedback or praise about some work you did? Capture what the feedback focused on and the context in which it was given.
  • Think back: When something may not have been documented, think back to times when you have felt good about an event or action. Feeling good about something usually indicates an achievement.

Step 2.
Review each situation and capture the problem, the context or situation, the actions you took, the skills used and the outcome achieved.

Step 3.
Take each statement and tweak it, keep tweaking and polishing each achievement statement until you get the final version. Make sure your sentences start with a powerful action verb.

Sales: Nurtured the existing customer base achieving a 20% increase in sales per customer.

Business Development: Increased customer base by 150%, and driving a further $2m in revenue through successfully identifying target markets.

Customer Service: Achieved a 98% customer satisfaction survey rating consistently for last two years and reduced the number of customer initiated contacts by 8% year on year.

Negotiation: Influenced three Unions to accept and support a revised pay scheme reducing costs by 5% and increasing margins by 4%.


Sales: Cultivated a positive relationship with each customer, keeping them aware of existing promotions and new products.

Business Development: Analyzed industry players, identified target market and successfully established a contact and relationship with each target organization

Customer Service: Maintained a 99%+ call quality rating without increasing average call duration.

Negotiation: Successfully negotiated several rounds of discussions, over several years, with employee groups covering topics such as overtime, performance appraisals and disciplinary and appeals processes.

Tailoring each resume to match the particular needs of each position may take more time, but will be worth it in the long run.You’ll often find that you used more than one skill in certain events or situations. Rather than discarding these, consider creating additional statements that display each skill. You can use the “category” to label which statements relate to which skill.

Managing all the different versions of achievement statements can be a challenge, but by using VirtualJobCoach all your achievement statements can be saved in the “My Resume Data – Data Sheet” and, with a single click, inserted into a new resume.

Why not try it out, sign up now and create a resume.

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