Written by Todd Euglow, Career Resources Specialist, Career Center
Have you ever found yourself working on your résumé and thinking “What did I actually do in that last job?” or “Wow, just listing that I waited tables doesn’t sound impressive at all”? One of the biggest mistakes that job seekers make when updating their résumé is approaching the process without giving ample thought to what they contributed to the organization or company they were working for or what skills or experiences they gained. Let’s face it, most employers are not going to be impressed with a résumé that simply states that someone waited tables or provided customer service.
To truly stand out from the competition, it’s important that a job seeker takes the time to reflect on their skills gained and contributions made, in order to provide a potential employer with the full picture of what the job seeker has accomplished and what they will bring to the table if hired.
Each bullet point you include on your résumé needs to tell a story and serve a purpose. It should paint an image for the reader that allows them to see you in the role they are looking to fill. The goal here is to provide enough information without writing a novel, because remember, you typically only have about a page (maybe two) to tell your story. This is your opportunity to provide proof of the results you achieved and skills you gained. Simply listing the duties that you performed in a previous or current role is not going to get the job done. Ideally, you should be writing accomplishment statements.
Sometimes it can be challenging to view your previous or current role from a bird’s eye view. One of the best strategies for moving away from listing duties to writing an effective accomplishment statement is using the PAR method. This method is a good reflection tool not only for résumés but also for interview preparation.
The “P” stands for PROBLEM.
What were the challenges or opportunities that existed in your role or within that organization or company?
The “A” stands for ACTION.
What did you do to help solve that problem or meet those challenges?
Finally, the “R” stands for RESULTS.
What was the outcome of your efforts?
Walking through this process will help you get into the right mindset for providing more context when writing your accomplishment statements. Additionally, you want to consider why this information is relevant, if it fully demonstrates the scope of your responsibilities, and whether any of the information is quantifiable.
Examples of accomplishment statements
Bad example: Engaged in customer service
Good example: Provided excellent service by assessing the needs of customers and offering the appropriate products or services
Bad example: Waited tables
Good example: Served and attended to large and small parties, while offering impeccable service to increase customer satisfaction
Bad example: Managed cash register
Good example: Managed and reconciled a cash drawer with an average of $900 per shift
Bad example: Answer and direct telephone calls
Good example: Operate a multi-line telephone, assess customer needs and direct calls to the appropriate department
Bad example: Compile reports for manager
Good example: Compile sales reports for department manager to assist in client sales presentations
Each of the above examples provides context and clarity to what you accomplished, focusing on the skills gained and contributions made. While writing these types of statements can be challenging, mastering this technique will increase your chances of making it to the interview phase of the hiring process.
If you find yourself experiencing writer’s block, the Career Center is here to help. Contact our office to take advantage of our résumé drop-in hours or make an appointment with one of our staff members.