As an executive, your resume (and LinkedIn profile) should be so much more than an overview of all the jobs you’ve had throughout your career. Ideally, your executive resume will tell a compelling story of your career trajectory while highlighting your most impressive achievements and illustrating your value as a leader.
Key achievements are an impactful tool that helps recruiters or hiring committees understand what you might be able to do for their organization. Rather than simply listing your past job duties, key resume achievements bring these responsibilities to life by highlighting not only what you did, but how your actions positively impacted your organization.
So how exactly should you go about identifying your key achievements? We’ve got you covered.
Step 1: Identify & Understand Your Target Role
Before you begin to update your resume, you’ll first want to decide what type of role you’re going to be pursuing. Are you hoping to step into a C-level role? Looking to focus more specifically on operations? Do you want to work for a small company or a large corporation? Are you hoping to stay in a certain industry or try something new? Clarifying your goals will help you to write a more tailored, targeted executive resume. It’ll also make identifying your most relevant resume achievements much easier, as you’ll be able to more quickly determine which accomplishments will best illustrate your value to a future employer.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Accomplishments
This may seem like a daunting exercise at first, but it usually ends up being kind of fun. Plus, it’s an incredibly valuable way to prepare to discuss your achievements in interviews. Here’s how to do it.
Going job by job, sit down and list out everything you accomplished in each of your prior roles. Write it all down – big and small. The idea here is to jog your memory and get your creative juices flowing. Did you implement an exceedingly popular company policy? Add it to your list! Save your company millions? Write it down!
You’ll likely end up with a pretty long list of career accomplishments, which will be way more content that you’re going need for your resume. But don’t worry about length yet. For now, the goal is to simply capture as many of your past achievements as possible.
Step 3: Decide What’s Relevant
Chances are, you’ve probably accomplished a lot throughout your career. And while that’s awesome (go, you!), it might make editing your resume more challenging. As you work through your list of achievements, asking yourself these questions will help you to identify what’ll be most relevant to a future employer.
- How does this relate to the position I’d like to hold next?
- Is this one of the top three things I accomplished in my tenure at this company?
- Would the skills I leveraged for this task be relevant or transferable to the job I’m targeting?
- Is this something I’d be excited to talk about during an interview?
- What was the outcome or result of this achievement? Is it compelling?
- Can I quantify this skill (e.g., % increase or decrease, $ amounts, measurable improvements, etc.)?
Keep in mind that generally, you’ll want to select between three to five key achievements for each role you include on your resume. Be selective and do your best to feature resume achievements that are not only relevant but impressive, impactful and quantifiable.
Step 4: Put it All Together
Now that you’ve reflected on your career goals, listed out all your achievements, and identified the most relevant in the bunch, it’s time to format your key resume achievements. Here’s how it might look.
- Reimagined business development strategy to include a 15% increase in sales force, resulting in $500M in increased profits YoY
- Steered company through a complicated re-organization, resulting in a 75% increase in profits with minimal employee turnover
- Implemented company-wide work from home policy, resulting in a 90% increase in employee satisfaction, a 22% increase in productivity, and a 34% decrease in PTO usage
You get the idea. Now it’s your turn!
Format Your Own Accomplishments Using This Simple Template
[Compelling verb] [brief explanation of accomplishment] resulting in [quantifiable outcome, %, $, etc. are always helpful!].
That wasn’t too hard, was it? We have a feeling you’ve worked on much more challenging projects throughout your career. While this exercise may be a bit time consuming, you’re now armed with a resume chock full of compelling wins and quantifiable accomplishments. Even better, you’ll be more prepared to discuss your work history once you score an interview.
Jobscan can automatically check your resume for measurable results and a number of other critical checks, like keywords and skills mentioned in the job description. Try it here:
- Executive Job Search Guide
- Resume Accomplishments: A Resume Writer’s Take on Standing Out
- 10 Resume Accomplishment Samples
Jaclyn Westlake is a career advice columnist and founder of The Job Hop. With more than ten years of experience in the recruiting and human resources space, she’s passionate about empowering job seekers to achieve their career goals. She’s also particularly fond of coffee and instantly falls in love with every dog she meets.