Resumes Should be a List of Accomplishments — Not Just Activities

The other day, some friends of mine asked me to review their son’s resume.  It’s not an unusual request.  I have a bit of a reputation as someone who can improve resumes, so lots of people ask me for help.

Brian’s resume was pretty good.  I gave him only one piece of substantive feedback.  “Don’t just explain what you did in a job, explain the results you accomplished.” I give this piece of advice a lot.  For some reason, many people get caught in the activity trap when it comes to resumes.  Results are a lot more powerful than a mere listing of activities.

For example, Brian and his fraternity brothers (he’s a Sigma Nu, just like me) organized a volleyball tournament in honor of his late sister, Christy, who died of brain cancer at a very young age.  They raised over $1,600.  That’s pretty good for a kid who is a sophomore in college.  By adding the words “Raised over $1,600 to fight childhood cancer” to the line that originally said “Organized the Volley for Christy,” he strengthened his resume tremendously.

He also built his self confidence. 

In “Straight Talk for Success,” I point out that self confidence is one of five keys to career and life success.  The exercise of going through each of your jobs and identifying what you accomplished can have a very positive effect on your self confidence.  It will help you become more optimistic, be more willing to face your fears, and to find mentors who can help you in your life and career.

Here’s an assignment for you.  Review your job and volunteer history.  What have you accomplished over the years?  Share it with us, by leaving a comment.

The common sense point here is simple.  When you are putting together a resume, focus on what you’ve accomplished in each of your jobs.  Don’t just list what you did.  Focusing on your accomplishments will help build your self confidence.  To borrow a line from Elvis and Frank Sinatra, you’ll be able to say “To think I did all that…and I did it my way.”  Reflecting on and listing what you’ve accomplished in your jobs and outside of work activities will not only strengthen your resume, it will help build your self confidence.

That’s my take on resumes, activities, results and self confidence.  What’s yours?  As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions.  As always, I thank you for reading and encourage you to comment on this and other Success Common Sense blog posts.



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