While a resume should be a factual account of the highs of your career, there is a lot more to describing your accomplishments than outlining what you did. The hiring manager should be able to imagine you doing similar things when they hire you, so transpose your accomplishments into the new setting where possible.
Do the thinking leg work for them - make it obvious exactly why you will be able to do a fantastic job.
This guide on how to write accomplishments for resume will:
- Look at the different types of accomplishments to list.
- Explore how to construct an impressive accomplishment.
- Look at where to list the achievement in the resume.
- Share some work accomplishment examples by industry sector.
Let’s start with the key question: what should I write for accomplishments?
List of accomplishments for a resume
There are different scenarios that may be considered an accomplishment for a resume.
All involve a concerted action on the part of the candidate to bring a benefit (financial or otherwise) for their employer. When you are choosing accomplishments for resume, it is important to consider the sorts of tasks that you will be asked to perform with your future employer and how they might impact the KPIs attached to your role. How do you answer what is your biggest accomplishment?
Here is a list of accomplishments for a resume that you can use as an inspiration or direct basis for your own:
- Increased sales or profit margins
- Financial cost savings / improved bottom line
- Improved productivity in terms of time spent
- Solutions that you found to unsolved problems
- Innovations or ideas that have led to a step-change
- Processes improved and procedures developed
- Awards that you have won (with a reason why)
- Promotion to a different role in the company
- Impact on the development of those around you
- Offer outstanding service to customers or clients
In all of these situations, the accomplishment outlines the difference that you have made.
So, how do you go about creating a concise and powerful window onto your awesomeness?
How to list accomplishments in your resume
How do you explain accomplishments? There are two key aspects of crafting an impressive one-line accomplishment:
- Piecing together the three-part structure
- Ensuring that the accomplishment is quantifiable
A resume accomplishment structure typically consists of three parts:
- Action verb to demonstrate my skill
- Specific task that I completed.
- Quantifiable outcome for my company.
One of the hallmarks of a great cover letter is a sprinkling of relevant and ideally fairly original action verbs.
Starting an accomplishment statement with a verb that outlines the skill that you have used is a great way to focus the attention of the reader. What are your greatest strengths?
The task part of the accomplishment focuses on what you did.
Try to be as specific as possible to give the detail of exactly what led to the eventual result. If it is a team effort, be sure to highlight what your part entailed as otherwise it is easily misconstrued at interview.
An accomplishment would feel empty without an accompanying (successful and impressive) outcome.
You might have created some new process, but unless you state how the process changed things for the better, the reader can equally assume that the impact may have been less than impressive. It is also critical that you are able to quantify the outcome.
What should I write for accomplishments? How do I measure them? There are three key ways to quantify the outcome of an accomplishment: timeframe, scale and range.
The timescale of the accomplishment allows the hiring manager to understand over which period the accomplishment took place.
A 3% cost saving over a year is impressive, but over a six-year period it is definitely less so. If you don’t mention the timescale, the hiring manager will have to make assumptions, so if the timescale is praise-worthy, don’t forget it.
The scale of the accomplishment offers a sense of perspective.
You might have won $1.2m of business last year, but that achievement is so much more impressive if you mention that this was 70% of total sales (in a sales team of three). When you consider that employers differ significantly in terms of turnover and size, you have to give a sense of scale to highlight the achievement. What makes you proud of yourself?
Offering a range of results lets you quantify a larger number of actions.
For example, you may have negotiated over a hundred agreements during your employment, so offering an average cost saving or range of percentages for cost savings might be a useful indication of success. I saved the company between 4-10% on the cost price will give a broader idea of the volume of work that has been done.
So, you now know how to answer what your biggest accomplishment is, but where do you put this information in your resume?
Where to list accomplishments in a resume
There are two places that a hiring manager would expect a candidate to enthuse about their accomplishments: in the work experience section and in the resume summary.
Work experience section
Most resumes will contain a work experience section with 5-7 lines of text for each role, depending on the length of career. You can either include the accomplishment in the body of the text or if there are a number of them for one role, it may make sense to list them as a bullet-pointed list. In this list, highlight your major achievements, using quantifiable metrics wherever possible to illustrate your impact.
The summary at the top of the resume is where your job search elevator pitch needs to be particularly concise, so the brief and powerful format of an accomplishment sentence can cause a hiring manager to sit up and take notice. If the achievement is impressive enough, this can be a perfect way to begin your resume, right at the top of the document.
This section is essentially a snapshot of your professional life, and it should succinctly demonstrate your unique value proposition. A well-crafted summary featuring a key accomplishment not only showcases your skills but also reflects your ability to deliver results.
Should you put awards on your resume? Some resumes in certain industries may contain a separate section for awards. If awards are particularly important for your industry, then this may make sense. Otherwise it is probably best to include as a standout highlight in the summary (if particularly impressive) or as part of the work experience section next to the relevant role.
But what is an example of an accomplishment?
Achievements in resume by industry (examples)
Here are some examples of accomplishments for resume you can borrow or be inspired by for various industries and professions:
Accounting & finance examples
Financial analyst resume accomplishments example: Created a purchasing commodity price dashboard that led to 22% cost savings.
Accountant resume achievement example: Handled tax reporting for more than 50 clients, saving them money via returns and other methods, as well as streamlining the process to be quick and efficient.
Financial advisor resume accomplishments example: Advised over 100 clients over 3 years on ways to maximize savings and choose the best investment strategies, increasing their passive income up to 80%.
Clinic coordinator resume achievement sample: Implemented a prescription tracking system and mobile app with 80% take up.
Child psychologist resume accomplishments example: Handled over 20 complex child psychology cases and patients per quarter, lending comprehensive support to the children, as well as advising their families on the best developmental and mental healthcare methods.
Nurse achievements for resume: Performed physical exams, health assessments and basic medical procedures for more than 150 patients per month in one of the largest hospitals in the county (with a level 4 Trauma Center), supporting the medical staff in the ICU.
Research engineer accomplishment sample: Designed inflation system for an intragastric balloon - market leader within 18 months.
Health and safety engineer achievement example for a resume: Led the QA team on inspections and routine checks for health and safety standards on 12 factory-level industrial sites. Developed advanced safety procedures for a biofuel plant with over 300 workers.
Electrical engineer: Handled routine and emergency maintenance as a member of the engineering and repairs team at the largest automotive factory in the state (200 workers and over 500 pieces of complex electrical equipment).
How do I summarize my accomplishments? Your accomplishments should be included in your resume in every section, so don't feel that you have to confine them to the employment history. Go with the big guns in your summary, infuse them through the skills section and make sure that your training and education hint at how you made them happen. It is important to be concise, where possible, which is hard when you feel such pride.
Marketing resume accomplishments examples
Digital marketing manager: Increased occupancy by 45% with a summer dining campaign across five social platforms for one of the top 5 fast food chains in the country.
Creative director: Coordinated the art and production departments of an award-winning creative agency, launched 25 successful video ad campaigns with high ROI, as well as 4 country-wide fashion billboard campaigns with an emphasis on innovative graphic design.
Government accomplishments for your resume
Federal resume achievement examples:
- Implemented an organizational communication matrix to decrease planning time by 22%
- Coordinate a department of 55 employees, implementing at least 4 successful community-based projects per quarter
- Organized the supply and procurement system for the largest correctional facility in the state
Administrative resume achievements
Administrative assistant example: Organised travel for 60 press trips and 40 journalists, tripling press coverage over two years.
Office manager example: Handled office supplies, company events and organized the work of the administrative department for the company HQ with over 450 employees.
Receptionist resume accomplishments sample: Received and processed guests, organized the reception log and documentation as well as the shift schedule in the regional office of a Fortune 500 company.
How to think about describing an accomplishment
Identify: Start by thinking about your work, educational, or personal history to identify a significant achievement.
Align: Try to choose an accomplishment that aligns well with the job requirements. For example, if you're applying for a leadership role, select an accomplishment that demonstrates your ability to lead and motivate.
STAR Method: Structure your answer using the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Describe the situation you were in, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results of these actions.
Quantify: Where possible, quantify the achievement. Did you save your company money? Increase efficiency? Boost sales? Numbers can drive your point home and show that you deliver results.
Accomplishments for your education resume
School administrator example: Created literacy strategy for dyslexic students to deliver to 190 district teaching colleagues.
Teacher accomplishments example: Taught a Spanish language class with 25+ students during the pandemic, developing new remote teaching methods for effective learning and student engagement via Zoom calls.
Tutor resume achievement sample: Tutored future engineering, biology and chemistry college students for their SATs, consistently helping my pupils achieve scores of 1300-1400.
Hospitality industry examples
Restaurant manager accomplishment for a resume: Reorganised the serving process and retrained staff to increase diner footfall by 22%.
Server accomplishment for a resume: Served food and helped with cleanup (as well as sanitation and COVID-19 safety measures) in an establishment with over 30 tables.
Bartender resume achievement sample: Rose from barback duties in one of the top craft bars in Chicago to the position of head bartender, developing a cocktail menu with 15 unique drinks as well as 25 classic cocktails. Helped the head chef with a food pairing menu and trained new bar staff for 2 years.
IT resume accomplishments
Web developer: Designed and developed the architecture of a virtual store to improve LFL sales by 18%.
Data analyst: Led the Big Data team for one of the Top 10 outsourcing firms in the country, coordinating data acquisition and processing
Software developer: Took part in 12 product launches in an IoT development company as a mid and then - a senior developer, using Java, Python and C languages on various projects. Explored the applications of blockchain technology for the R&D department.
How do you describe your accomplishments when you don't like talking about yourself? During a job search this may prove to be an issue - especially if you are not your own biggest fan. This is more common than you may think. When you come to write your resume accomplishments, look at yourself from the kindest possible perspective. You have to be your own salesperson, so this is the only place to start. Maybe look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself a your career story. Understand how many amazing things you have done and how you will be able to add value to a future employer. Talking about yourself will then become a little easier.
Human Resources achievements for your resume
Human resources assistant achievement example: Introduced a mobile comms strategy that resulted in 23% less time being spent in meetings.
Human resources manager resume accomplishment: Led the adoption effort for a company-wide CRM and employee happiness management system for 400 employees that included task management, sick leave and vacations.
Recruiter achievement for a resume: Was part of the recruitment team for a large software development company, successfully negotiated 30 junior developers and 25 senior developers into the interview stages, with a hiring rate of over 65%.
Sales resume achievements
Sales associate accomplishment for a resume: Exceeded annual sales quota by an average of 45% over the last six years.
Account manager resume achievement sample: Handled contracts for 5 multi-million dollar clients of an electronics manufacturing company, successfully meeting quarterly goals and deadlines.
Sales manager example: Reorganized the sales department of a luxury real estate firm, increasing the sales figures and results of all sales reps and sales campaigns by an average of 35% over 2 years.
Transport and logistics resume accomplishments
Logistics manager: Speaking at 15 conferences - relationships with distributors led to market share gain of 27%.
Logistics coordinator: Developed and implemented an inventory management system for 12 warehouses, over 3000 sq. feet of space each.
Delivery driver: Handled deliveries of fast-spoiling goods during rush hour in downtown Chicago, with over 40 delivers a day.
How do I list my accomplishments so that they flow naturally rather than a series of machine-gun like points? Well, given the factual and limited nature of a resume, bullet points are actually an incredibly effective method of conveying information. Your summary section and cover letter will allow you to tell a little more of a story, but short and sharp accomplishments will hit hard if they are relevant and quantifiable.
Real estate industry
Architect resume accomplishment: Haines & Barton building design won “best small office” in the 2018 NY IntDes awards.
Realtor resume achievement sample: Closed more than 120 real estate deals over 2 years, from small homes to luxury mansions.
Interior decorator accomplishment example: Designed large-scale office spaces for IT and biotech companies, with areas of over 1000 square feet and high demands for office ergonomics, comfort and aesthetics.
Youth services specialist: Ran addiction workshop for 90 local teenagers, increasing needle amnesty participation.
Nanny: Handled childcare, household chores and minor educational tasks for 15 families over 8 years.
Drug and alcohol counselor: Counseled 150 people during a period of 2 years on matters of drug addiction, recovery and mental healthcare issues.
Business & management
Business analyst achievement example: Process optimization resulted in +15% OTIF dispatch, and $500k saved in annual stock loss.
Procurement manager resume accomplishment: Increased procurement budget savings by 34% over a period of 2 years by implementing a new sourcing and tendering strategy.
Business development manager sample accomplishment for a resume: Led the establishment of 6 branch offices in the LATAM and Asia-Pacific regions, acquiring 12 new large clients in these markets over 3 years.
What is the best type of accomplishment? For me, turning around a bad situation is more impressive than marginally improving something that was going fine. Showing courage to do something that has never been done before is one of the best ways to make a step change. Sure, it might not always go to plan, but if you don't try you will never know and you can always learn that little bit more from the inevitable odd failure.
Construction industry resume achievement examples
Construction manager: Implemented new safety training for all contractors reducing workplace incident rate by 12%.
Structural engineer: Provided structural evaluations and design services for 320 homes in the Seattle area.
Construction worker: Managed safety compliance for 4 job sites during multimillion-dollar dormitory renovation project.
Sport & fitness resume accomplishments
Football coach: Trained over 20 college football teams over the years, leading to 4 championship wins and more than 30 scholarships for my students.
Fitness instructor: Worked at a high-end fitness club, performed in-depth fitness assessments for 250 clients over 3 years before creating individual fitness plans.
Nutritionist accomplishment sample for a resume: Developed health and dietary plans for 200 sports club customers per quarter, implemented corporate meal plans for b2b clients.
Beauty & Wellness
Hair stylist resume accomplishment: Provided styling services and hairdressing services for 35 brides and over 100 prom clients during the spring and summer season of 2018.
Salon receptionist resume achievement example: Worked the reception area (handling appointments) of a high-traffic hair salon, with up to 700 visitors per month.
Spa manager: Coordinated the work of 30+ employees ranging from aestheticians to massage therapists (as well as administrative and cleaning staff) in a high-end wellness and spa clinic.
Most people will write and rewrite their resume a few times and much of their effort will be spent quantifying and refining the appropriate accomplishments that will demonstrate that they are worthy of getting the job. To sum up, these are the steps they should be taking:
- Structure your accomplishments with three parts – action verb, task and outcome
- Quantify the achievements by using: timeframe, scale and range
- Select which ones to include in the summary and work experience sections
- Make sure that they are standout examples of excellence in your industry sector