An Unimpressive Accomplishment for Your Resume

Your resume needs to show specific accomplishments demonstrating your abilities, experience and potential.  You will compete against others who have the same experience and skills.  In fact, some of your competition is likely to be higher qualified than you.  To land an interview and to get hired, you need to show why you are better.  A good accomplishment can to this.  A weak, unimpressive accomplishment will not help, and can actually hurt the overall impression of your resume.

The resume I read today came from a training manager for a large corporation.  It lists a number of training programs the candidate had managed.  One of the bullets listed was:

  • Conceptualized and led the design of a leadership and management strategy and curriculum for all support divisions. Implemented and facilitated management training and best practices sessions. Results included a 60% participation rate in manager best practice sessions.

It’s important to understand that numbers stand out on a resume.  A lot of hiring managers will scan a resume, looking for the number and read bullets with quantified results first.  Additionally, for many people, numbers stand out from the rest of the text and will naturally draw their attention, even if they aren’t specifically looking for quantified results.  This makes it much more likely your bullets with numbers will be read before the bullets without.

In this resume example, the bullet might draw extra attention because it lists “60%.”  This figure may have been good, but on a resume, without any context to place this in, it seems very unimpressive.  In fact, some may interpret it as a failure. 

Imagine an executive struggling to cut costs, drive revenues and stay profitable in this economy.  The exec decides he needs to upgrade the skills set of his workforce and needs a top notch trainer to design the training.  His concern is driving specific results – profits – in the short term.  This requires a training who can make an impact quickly and understands how to focus on elements that will make the company more productive right now.

The job seeker designed a management and leadership program for a major company – an organization everyone knows.  This is a good responsibility.  The only result given for the program was a 60% participation rate.  I really can’t assess whether this was good or bad.  If the program was very time consuming, voluntary for managers to participate and not supported well by upper management, a 60% participation rate might have been great.  In the eyes of the hypothetical hiring manager I described, this result probably looks like a failure.

The hiring manager needs to maximize the value he gets for the cost of the training manager.  Knowing he might only get a 60% participation rate, will make the training far less effective.  Another candidate, showing a consistent pattern of running programs with very high participation rates is likely to have an edge, even though we haven’t assessed the quality of the training or the impact on the performance of the company.

Ideally, the job seeker wouldn’t emphasize participation rates.  A better approach would be to emphasize the impact of the training.  With 60% participation, showing how the group that completed the training improved their performance while the non-participants didn’t improve would be extremely impressive.  If the job seeker can’t show a benefit like this, it is likely they will lose out to another job seeker than can.