One Simple Trick to Make Your Résumé Extraordinary

businesswoman with resume

If you’re reading this, then I’m willing to wager that you have a résumé. Yet I’m also willing to bet that you’re making a critical mistake on this important document. In short, I suspect that some of your bullet points cite activities rather than achievements.

That’s understandable. Achievements are tough to pull off, let alone articulate. Yet if you want your résumé to stand out, then you absolutely need them. Specifically, you need to transform your day-to-day responsibilities into distinctive results. In other words, transform your activities into achievements.

Do You Want This?

Here’s a simple, short example (exaggerated for effect):

Designed ads for clients.

Really? You “designed ads for clients”? “You’re hired!” said no one, anywhere, ever.

That’s because this bullet point doesn’t explain why your activity matters. Put simply: So what? Did the client select your designs over those of your peers? Did the ads lead to more revenue for the company? Elaborate! Quantify! Concretize!

Or This?

How? Here’s one possible rewrite:

Designed ads that won over a demanding client.

See the difference? The rewrite answers the question, “What happened as a result of your actions?” In other words: So what?

Another Example

Here’s another before-and-after:

Wrote press releases.


Wrote press releases that lifted TPI’s media coverage by 20 percent.

Again, the difference is dramatic: Without results, your activities are utterly forgettable. With results, the hiring manager can imagine that you’ll achieve the same feats for her.

Is Now the Right Time?

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering: Is a global pandemic the best time to job search? That’s a fair question. Here’s my response:

Even in this crisis, headhunters, brands, media outlets, and PR agencies are still hiring. (The latter especially includes lobbying firms that have a communication department.)

Yet if you thought it was tough to break through in our pre-COVID-19 era, it’s doubly so now that everyone is haphazardly adapting to a working-from-home milieu.

If you want your résumé to get lost in this shuffle, then do what everybody does: Listlessly tick off your duties. If you want your résumé to get results, then make it result-worthy.

PR pro Jonathan Rick is a writing guru whose presentations at PRNEWS writing events are achievements, not activities.