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Developing "WOW" Accomplishments for Your Resume

By Abby Locke

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Abby M. Locke, president of Premier Writing Solutions, is a Certified Executive Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Strategist who supports senior-level finance, accounting and technology professionals in career transition with the development of customized, branded executive resumes and career marketing documents.

Developing "WOW" Accomplishments for Your Resume

If I received a dollar for each time a client tried to convince me that he or she does not have any outstanding career accomplishments for her resume, I would be very rich! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of enhancing your resume with quantifiable accomplishments and I will take you through some easy steps for developing accomplishment statements.

Let's start by understanding what kinds of accomplishments or achievements are important to employers and hiring managers. In her book, Resume Magic, Susan Britton Whitcomb explains that every jobseeker has "buying motivators" - these are the contributions that you have made in your career that would encourage a hiring company to "buy" you or in other words hire you. Simply put - every company listens to the same radio station WIFI - What's In It For Me.

Challenge-Actions-Results (CAR)

Think about the areas in which you have helped make your company successful and create your career-defining accomplishments using the Challenge-Actions-Results (CAR) formula. For example, Jennifer is a sales executive and increased the sales volume in the Northeast region for ABC Company for five consecutive years. Sounds great, but so what?

It would be critical to understand if the sales volume has increased because of her actions or whether the industry is growing and the sales volume just naturally expanded. Taking a close look at the product's sales volume when Jennifer took the position would become the "Challenge" in the CAR story.

The steps she took to improve the sales volume or sustain sales volume would be the "Actions". Finally, the outcome or impact on the company's profitability would be the "Results".

So starting from the top, Jennifer's CAR story would look like this:

CHALLENGE: Assumed leadership position in the video products division which had been experiencing slow sales and negative profitability from initial product launch.

ACTIONS: Reinforced and coached team of ten sales representatives through intensive training and innovative sales techniques. Introduced new marketing initiatives, which helped the company form strategic alliances with regional distributors and vendors.

RESULTS: Video products sales increased from $50,000 to 100,000 in just 4 months and continually grew unit sales by 20% each year from 2000 to 2005.

Once you have the CAR story, it allows you to create a revenue-impacting, quantifiable accomplishment for your resume that reads like this:

  • Grew new product sales 100% in 120 days and sustained 20% annual sales growth for five consecutive years by introducing new marketing initiatives, forging effective strategic alliances, implementing innovative sales techniques and reengineering sluggish sales force.
Now who wouldn't want to hire this person?

Don't be fooled - quantifiable accomplishments are NOT only for sales executives. Your CAR stories can be created around other accomplishments.

Here are a few other examples of buying motivators:

  • Made money for the company
  • Helped the company save money or reduce costs
  • Implemented processes that save time or increase work productivity
  • Improved company's competitive advantage in the marketplace
  • Enhanced corporate image or building company's reputation in its industry

I highly recommend that you keep a current log of your accomplishments by creating CAR stories as they occur in your career.

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