Career Management


Phase 1, Step 3 - Update the Accomplishments in Your Resume

Your resume is the first impression you make to employers. You have to highlight your accomplishments and strengths because the employer wants to hire somebody who can get the job done and do it well. Your resume represents you so make sure it is something you are proud to showcase to everybody. This step is about articulating everything you learned about yourself in steps 1 and 2 into a brochure about you – your one page MBA resume. The vast majority of MBA programs use the same standard one page resume format, which MBA recruiters from major corporations tell us they prefer. Unlike niche careers, MBA recruiters want to easily scan your resume to identify your strengths and match them to the positions for which they are recruiting. Most say they won’t read more than one page and value your ability to be focused and concise. Research tells us that people’s past behaviors are the best predictor of future behaviors.  That’s why employers ask behavior based interview questions and that’s also why accomplishments on your resume are so important.  They don’t want to know just WHAT you did, but HOW you did your work.

Keep in mind that accomplishments are vastly different from responsibilities in that role. Responsibilities focus on what you did relative to your job description. Accomplishments, on the other hand, are what set one employee apart from a second with exactly the same job title. Think performance reviews, what did you do to add value to the organization this year? This step is complete when your resume is one page, is in the Willamette Standard Resume Format and has been reviewed by Career Management staff and given at least 90% of the points. (See Resume Rubric for scoring guidelines).

Deliverable for GSM5108: Create a one-page resume using the Willamette Standard Format. If you have a lot of work experience (~10 years), consider creating a one page resume AND an extended version. The one page resume is required for resume books which will be sent to recruiters and employers.  In Step 9, you’ll revise this resume by customizing it for a particular position.

Questions to ask yourself:
  1. Within my educational experiences, what are my major accomplishments? Did I receive awards, grades, and acceptance to honor societies? What were major projects and papers that might identify me as having unique knowledge or areas of interest? Did I study abroad or take part in a unique program?
  2. Within my previous work experience, both paid and unpaid, what would my co-workers and supervisors say about me? What legacy did I leave behind at that organization? What impact did I have? What did my performance evaluations reveal about me?
  3. What special skills or knowledge do I have? Think – computer programs, languages etc.
  4. Outside of my professional roles, what volunteer positions have I taken? What impact have I had upon either clients or upon the organization as a whole?
  5. If I were to name three areas of specific strength, what would they be?
  6. Think – Summary of qualifications in bullets.
  7. What am I most proud of? What do others see as my major accomplishments or strengths?

Going Deeper:
  • Add all your answers to questions 1-6 into your resume. At this point, your resume may be 2-5 pages, which is fine. If you have  not already, set up an Optimal Resume account and use the “create a new resume.” At the same time, start a Portfolio and upload possible work samples to share.
  • Change every bullet into an accomplishment format. Think STAR: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Always use third person and incomplete sentences. Never use “I” in your resume (see the Willamette Standard Resume Format for examples.) Also see a list of transferable skills for sample action words.
  • Group your bullets into major headings such as “previous work experience’ or ‘leadership experience’ and ‘education’ and develop names for the headings to best reflect what is in each section. (See Willamette Standard Resume Format and put them into reverse chronological format.)
  • Delete bullets until you have ONLY ONE PAGE of the most important accomplishments of your life that you want employers to know about you. Save the rest and call it “Extended resume”.
  • Add your summary of qualifications at the top – 3 things that clearly articulate what is in your one-page resume. Think: What 3 things make you a perfect candidate for the desired field?