Don't Forget Resume

Top Thing Most People Forget To Include On Their Resume

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Every day as a resume writer, I work with clients and gather background materials for their projects. People fill out a worksheet plus they send me the most recent version of their resume with an updated work history.

And you know what? I’ve noticed a rather startling trend.

There are a whole lot of people missing the boat on one particular item they either forget to include or stick at the very bottom of the document…almost as an afterthought.

Can you guess what it is?

Give up?

It’s the notable achievements section. Yes. Really.

I’m talking about the things that set you apart from your peers…and please note: if you don’t have any, don’t sweat it. But for the folks that do, this section somehow becomes an awkward part of the resume that they don’t quite know what to do with it. Sometimes it is left out entirely. Other times, it is placed at the very end of the document.

Now why would you want to do that?

Notable achievements (a.k.a. how you have distinguished yourself in your industry and career, as well among your peers) are the CREAM THAT RISES TO THE TOP.

I’m not talking about financial incentives here (i.e. you won a bonus or financial award). The stuff I am talking about are awards (from peers, colleagues, supervisors, and industry), speaking engagements, patents, authoring articles, being quoted or featured in the media, and any other way you have established your industry subject matter expertise.

Over and over again, we are told that employers (that is, once you get a real live human being reading your resume) give you between 6-8 seconds and the first third of your document can either make or break your candidacy.

Pulling your notable achievements into that first third of your resume is going to be critical to getting you noticed… you’ll want to place this section after your job title headline, summary, and skills list, and before your actual work history. The idea is that your resume is telling a story: The job title headline connects you to the target position for which you are applying, then you tell the employer why hire you, provide the skill sets that are relevant to that position, and then you need to tell the employer what makes you special.

That’s it, really… notable achievements help make you stand out.

Don’t be shy. Don’t be bashful. This is where you take ownership of your accomplishments and let the employer know how you have distinguished yourself. It’s not boasting.

Quite honestly… if you don’t tell them, they simply won’t know.

So take a moment, look over your resume, and see where you may have placed your top industry and career achievements. If they aren’t there, include them. And if they are, but are listed at the bottom of your document, pull them up closer to the top.

You’ll stand out more because of it, and it COULD make the difference on whether you are invited in for an interview.


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Dawn Rasmussen

Dawn Rasmussen is president of Portland, Oregon-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, which provides resume, cover letter, and job searching assistance.

5 comments

  1. ‘Notable’ is so subjective! What if there hasn’t been anything particularly notable, like I’ve always been a hardworker and done my best to do a good job of what’s expected, but won no awards, been in no publications, didn’t WIN a big account…what then??

  2. Great point!! Employers know what you do in the job description they’ve posted. What they don’t know and want to see is what you can do for them based on what you did over and above your job in previous positions. And if you don’t think you’ve done anything, think about the times your boss told you, “Good job.” Think about what you did that no one else did to make an impact. And Dawn, create a section in your resume called Professional Development/Education/Awards. It’s usually at the end and you’ll want to put the name of the award, the company, and the year isn’t a bad thing. The point is that all this information builds a 3-dimensional performer for your reader. P.S. Disclaimer – Other resume writers may disagree. I’m okay with that.

  3. Dawn,

    I like your article on notable achievements. How long back can we go to add a notable achievement award. Bank in 1995 I received a Standing Ovation award from a company who really appreciated my expertise and hard work. Could I add a comment on my resume regarding the awards or is it too old. Also how long should we go back in a resume. It is very confusing. Especially for Mothers who are trying to come back to the corporate world.

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