Career Advice

Resume Achievements: Are Yours Too Long, Too Short Or Just Right?

On your resume, what is the limit on how much to write about an achievement?

The answer is, ‘It depends.’

I suggest your goal is to culminate in Expanded Achievements Stories; so, don’t initially overwhelm yourself with rules of achievement length. Instead, focus on the aerial perspective of what you contributed, and then break the bigger picture down into smaller chunks.

A quick checklist will help walk you through the process of achievement ‘ferreting’:

  • What has been your overarching impact at your current position? This is your starting point in teasing out your achievements.
  • Start with the bird’s-eye view of what has improved at your company since you came on board; e.g., profits multiplied; customer service skyrocketed; your company’s marketplace exploded.
  • Write a 1-4 sentence overview of your impact at your current company, and then drill down into the mini stories from there.  My preference is no more than 2-4 lines for each bullet, so as to ease absorption by the reader (big blocks of text can overwhelm).

Here is an example of an Expanded Achievements Story that is introduced with the Overarching Impact.

If you’d done your career introspection ‘homework,’ you also will have taken a few minutes to jot down job requirements that will help you to target your achievements based on your audience’s needs. This culling of your audience’s needs will intuitively help you trim, edit, tweak and maintain control of the content quantity (and even more importantly, ‘quality’) that lands on your resume pages.

  • For example, does your target reader need someone experienced at expanding existing products into the marketplace? Great. Show that you have done that and how you did it, as in the above example.
  • Do they want someone keen on fixing customer service issues? Bingo – the above example proves you’ve been there/done that.
  • Moreover, if they are looking for someone who knows how to squeeze savings from existing vendors and / or other resources, thus bolstering profits, then this sample shows proof of success.
  • However, whatever aspects of your story do ‘not’ resonate with your target reader should be left to the cutting room floor.
  • So, if they ask you about expanding your company’s product presence into the market, and you focus only on how you led the latest technology improvements or software implementations, then you’ve missed your mark.
  • Of course, if you can succinctly and compellingly tie the technology improvements into the method of expanding products into the market, then you may be okay.

If you do not connect the dots for the reader and prove, beyond a shadow of the resume doubt, that what you have done resonates with their specific needs, then you have bragged about the ‘wrong’ achievements. The bottom line of the resume is that it’s less about what ‘you’ are most proud of and more about ‘why’ they should care.

Moreover, it is about the context of the situation as well as the shades of gray, personality and skills (leadership traits, problem solving talent, collaboration, innovation), that you possess that must also be knit into the fine threads of your resume.

Finally, if the focused, meaty content and story of how you solve problems that clearly resemble the target company’s / hiring decision maker’s / corporate board’s needs, then it’s less about achievements length, and more about capturing their attention so they’ll care to digest your story; and ultimately, they will call you in for that interview.