Career highlights are an essential inclusion in your resume. These highlights are the achievements and contributions that you have made in the various positions you've held so far in your career.
Why is it so important to include these when you create a resume?
In a nutshell.....your past performance is the best indicator to an employer or recruiter of what your future performance is likely to be.
For many people however, when building a resume however, they find that writing about their career highlights and achievements is difficult to do.
Why does this happen? There are a couple of reasons:
To help you to create a resume where your career highlights truly stand out, we'll look at:
Regularly updating career highlights in your resume, at least annually, is an important career management maintenance task.
Why so often? It's simple really - people quickly forget. It's really common in my experience with clients that some people will struggle to recall in detail, the important things they have done in their work more than 12 months ago.
Here's a quick test for you - what were the most significant things you have worked on in your employment in the last 2-3 years. If you had to write a compelling description of of what these things were, how well can you recall:
It is critical that you maintain good records about your career achievements and contributions - this is the proof that employers want that you can do what you say you can do!
My tip therefore is - gather and update information about your achievements at least every 12 months.
If you are not sure what is relevant or important about your work in terms of your contributions and achievements, look at the table below. Listed there are some suggestions for evaluating what you have done.
Have you ever had career highlights or achievements in any of these areas?
|Automated systems||Increased productivity|
|Conceived new products/ideas||Increased inventory turns|
|Designed new equipment/procedures||Increased return on investment|
|Developed new products||Managed operations|
|Developed plans||Raised efficiencies or safety|
|Devised methods||Reduced costs|
|Eliminated unnecessary procedures||Reduced number of rejects|
|Enhanced profitability||Reduced energy requirements|
|Improved morale or team work||Reduced risk|
|Improved corporate image/reputation||Reduced accounts receivable overdue|
|Improved quality of production, or service||Reduced staff turnover|
|Improved or developed training||Reduced capital investment costs|
|Increased sales or market share||Reduced operational downtime|
|Increased earnings||Saved time|
When building a resume many people significantly undersell their achievements because they don't know what sort of detail they should provide about their career accomplishments.
Here area some key questions to ask yourself so that you can write convincingly about your contributions:
Make notes as you review the various projects and tasks that you've carried out in each of your job roles.
How far back into your career should go in doing this review of your career achievements?
It depends a little on the style of resume you have decided to write.
But...generally speaking you should be able to refer to details of major accomplishment for at least the past 5-7 years of your career.
There are two really simple formulas you can follow that will help you to write well about your accomplishments, and with the right amount of detail.
S.T.A.R. is an acronym which stands for:
The way the formula works is that it helps you organise your information as follows:
Describe the situation, or provide some background on your achievement. Why did you do it? Why was it important? What was the problem or opportunity that you were responding to?
In responding to, or as a result of the above situation, what task, or tasks were you required to do, or decide to carry out?
The task/tasks you carried out would most likely involve you in carrying out certain job functions.
For example - you planned, organised, consulted, communicated, analysed, prepared a report, budget etc
Building on some of the situation described above your statement might begin to look like:
In carrying out the task/tasks above, what were some of the specific actions that you took?
In describing your action/s you elaborate on processes, methods, procedures etc that you used or adopted in order to complete the task/s.
In response to a customer complaint I investigated the company's procedure for returning products. This involved documenting each step in the returns process, and identifying both the people and company systems involved in each step. I also conducted in-depth interviews with the staff involved at each stage of the process to obtain their ideas about improvements to process and systems.
Describing your actions in detail gives your reader invaluable insight into how you operate - your attitude, and how you apply your skills, knowledge in a particular situation.
This is obviously the result or outcome from the task/s you completed, and the actions you took to complete those tasks.
When writing about results it informs the reader about:
This is one of the best ways to present results that have credibility.
How do you do this? Describe your results in terms of actual quantities, percentages, or other forms of measurement:
Another common formula for writing about career accomplishments or career highlights is C.A.R.
The letters stand for:
Here are two simple examples of how to write career highlights statements, using the S.T.A.R. formula.
In response to a significant increase in customer complaints (Situation) was required to design and implement a training program (Task) for front line staff. During design phase, analysed complaints in staff focus groups, and with assistance of the staff involved developed an alternative service delivery model (Action). Subsequently trained over 200 staff in the new service delivery model, and as a result achieved a 70% reduction in customer complaints (Result).
On my own initiative (Situation) identified an alternative supplier of key manufacturing raw materials (Task). Investigated fully the ability of the supplier to meet materiel requirements according to our manufacturing schedule, and also negotiated a supply guarantee (Action). Prepared a successful written submission to the senior management group recommending a change in supplier (Action), with a resulting annual saving to the company of $1.5 million dollars. (Result)
Exactly where you include your achievement statements in your resume will depend on the style of resume that you've chosen.
Looking for other hints and tips related to writing a great resume? Try these: