How to write a resume: Showcase Your Tasks And Achievements


Oct 21, 2016

Describing what you did in your previous roles is without doubt, a very important part of resume writing. Recruiters and hiring managers will read this information carefully, to see if you have what they are looking for.

Your job descriptions should include information on your:

  • Responsibilities i.e. The day-to-day and one-off tasks you performed
  • Achievements i.e. How well you executed your key job responsibilities

How to write a resume: Best practices for describing your job responsibilities

You need to find a balance between being concise and providing enough detail to the reader, so that they have a good understanding of the context, scale and scope of your responsibilities. These details help them know how relevant/similar your experience is, compared to what you will need to do in their organisation.

Start by providing the overall objective your role, with details of the scale and scope of your responsibilities.

  • What were you accountable for?
  • How many people did you manage, directly and indirectly?
  • What was the size of your department?
  • What was the budget that you managed?
  • What was the geographic scope of your responsibilities?
  • How many projects did you manage and what was the typical size?
  • And so on

Here is an example:

Spearhead Finance function for South East Asia, leading a team of 15 direct reports, supporting divisions with revenue of over $ 300 million.

Then move on to describe some of the main tasks you perform, in order to deliver your overall objective. Provide enough context for each responsibility you list, by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What….the task was
  • How….you went about it
  • How much/big….was the magnitude of the task
  • Why….did you perform the task i.e. what goals you were trying to achieve

Checking if you have included these details, where possible, will ensure that you avoid being too vague.

As an example, a typical task description might be – Reviewed and finalised commercial aspects of business/investment deals. Now let’s check if it includes all necessary detail:

  • What….the task was (Included): Reviewed and finalised commercial aspects of business/investment deals
  • How….you went about it (Missing): Comprehensive analysis (of the commercial terms and conditions) and negotiating with high profile clients and suppliers
  • How much/big….was the magnitude of the task (Missing): Size of deals was up to $50 million
  • Why….did you perform the task (Missing): To arrive at the most financially viable terms for your company
So the improved version would read something like this – Performed comprehensive reviews of the commercial aspects of business/investment deals with a size of up to $50 million, to optimise financial viability. Effectively negotiated with clients and suppliers to finalise favourable terms.

How to write a resume: Best practices for what’s most important – your achievements

Most people tend to have way too much information about job responsibilities in their resumes and do not pay enough attention to achievements. It is crucial to spend time thinking about your achievements during the resume writing process. There will be many people who have job responsibilities which are similar to yours, so you need to show recruiters what results you achieved for your employers, in order to separate yourself from the pack.

Communicate how well you performed the responsibilities you mentioned, as compared to your peers, the average, what was done previously, or some other benchmark. A good way to do this is through Action-Benefit statements. This consists of:

  • Action: Specific action that you took when faced with a situation, problem or opportunity that enabled you to achieve a positive result
  • Benefit: The positive result or benefit to the organization, such as an increase in revenue, a reduction in costs, streamlined processes or systems, or improved morale

To provide an example – Identified unfavourable terms in 5 major projects, each worth around $30 million. Negotiated with high profile suppliers to improve the terms, thereby reducing total cost of all projects by $2 million annually.

How to write a resume: Best practices for the amount of detail – More for recent jobs and less for older roles

A mistake which many people make when it comes to Singapore resume writing, is to include all details of what they did, in their previous jobs. This leads to an unfocussed resume, with tons of redundant information. When deciding what to include for your job responsibilities and achievements, it is useful to keep a list of the requirements of your job target in front of you, so that you can stay focussed on including only things which are relevant.

For jobs which you have held in the last 10 years or so –   As a general guideline,  you could use 3-5 bullet points to write about all your job responsibilities. Each of these bullets can be 1-2 lines long. The same goes for your achievements.

For jobs before that: Depending on how relevant the job is, keep the size of the description to around half or a third of what you have for your recent roles. You could even limit it to just one paragraph, with 4-5 lines.

How to write a resume – Remember to use action verbs at the start of your responsibilities and achievements

Start all your bullet points with action verbs, such as Managed, Delivered, Boosted, Revitalised, Revamped and so on. For your current role use the present tense (Manage) and for previous roles use past tense (Managed). Try to avoid the use of personal pronouns, like I, Me, My, and so on.

I hope you found this information on how to write a resume useful, especially when it comes to your job responsibilities and achievements.

  About The Author  

Amit is an experienced career, business and HR professional. Previously, he has worked with organisations such as Bain & Company, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Amit has advanced degrees/qualifications in Career Counselling, Organisational Psychology & HR, Occupational Psychometrics, Career/Life Coaching & Business.

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