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Heather Williams

Student Advisor
SFU Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

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It takes time to refine your resume and to get the accomplishment statements to a professional level.

You have an excellent layout and consistent format to your resume.  Your design elements are eye-catching while still being subtle and appropriate for the job.  All of this will be of no use if your content is not reflective of someone who has taken the time to fully explain his or her skills and experiences.

What are Accomplishment Statements?

For those of you who are current co-op students you might recall learning about accomplishment statements from Bridging Online I: “When writing content for your resume, refer to your skills, values, education, past experience, and knowledge as accomplishments rather than duties and responsibilities that meet the employers' needs. Duties and responsibilities refer to the scope of your experience, such as "marketing" or "sales" whereas accomplishment statements give clear examples of a task you have completed.” 

For example, as a lifeguard a task-based bullet might appear:

  • Responsible for people’s safety while in a pool. 

An accomplishment statement would read something like:

  • Observed 10-30 people in a 150-meter pool to ensure public safety. 

The accomplishment statement tells the employer that you have acquired observation skills and that your level of communication is sophisticated enough to provide details that paint a clear picture. 

How to write an accomplishment statement: 

Accomplishment Statements are easily broken down into a three-part formula.  There are two ways you can form accomplishment statements: 

1. ACTION VERB + DETAILS + RESULT 

2. RESULT + VERB + DETAILS

Action verbs showcase your skills.  Scan your resume and notice if you are using the same verb over and over.  Consider editing the verbs so there is a variety of action verbs.  This will better show off the breadth of your experience. 

The details should be specific and not generalized.  For example, one common error on resumes is the following statement:

  • Good communication skills.

This has actually demonstrated that you are not good at communicating because you are not giving enough detail to support your claim.  A better approach would be to use a specific action verb (wrote, collaborated, drafted, explained, persuaded) to a situation and then to include a qualifying result.   For example:

  • Explained company policy changes to guests who complained which enabled them to understand and increased guest loyalty.

The above statement demonstrates that you have good listening and speaking skills and it also tells your reader that you understand and can communicate the impact of your actions.

It is important to quantify results when possible because backing up claims with data will help increase your credibility.  Adding in specific details also paints a clearer picture of the scope of your skills.  For example:

  • Organized event for charity which aided in my time management skills.

Versus

  • Organized 20 volunteers in a fundraising fashion show which generated $1500 for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

The first statement really lacks any details.  Your reader does not know what your role was (event planning, catering, props?) or which charity, or what it did for the greater good.  In other words, the first bullet lacks specific details and the result is focused on you.  A better accomplishment statement provides details by either qualifying or quantifying and shows results beyond the skills you have gained.

It takes time to refine your resume and to get the accomplishment statements to a professional level, but hopefully, you now understand that it is well worth spending your time to make sure your resume content is constructed strategically.   This is your marketing tool to getting you a foot in the door for an interview.

About the Author

Heather Williams

Student Advisor
SFU Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

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