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I am trying to come up with achievements to put on my resume but I am having trouble actually finding anything that could qualify as such. Don't get me wrong, I am certain I am doing a very good job and my boss has told me so a few times. It just does not feel like there are achievements I can think of that are applicable to my work.

My job is to produce financial reports and tools in Excel / Access. We're talking moderately complex to very complex models here, often with quite a bit of VBA to process data and automate the reporting process. About a quarter of my work is to maintain (i.e. do small to medium changes to the reports / tools and make sure the reports show the right data) and validate reports of my colleagues and the rest is mostly report development with a bit of consulting with our internal clients (helping them understand our datamarts and OLAP cubes and how we could make information XYZ into a report).

I find that it is very hard in these circumstances to find achievements. Essentially, this could be compared to software development at its bare minimum, but we all work on different projects so it's hard for me to compare with others and say I am faster. I do think my work is generally more reliable but I have no data to support it. I know that my code is written much more efficiently than my colleagues, but that may be considered subjective (and also hard to list in a resume).

TLDR: How to write a proper resume when my actual job does not fit well with typical "achievements" ? (increased sales, increased productivity...)

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4 Answers 4

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A lot of the achievements are built through wording of events. Things change over time but you could take your "automate the reporting process" and turn it into something like this.

I automated the reporting process used by Management over a number of areas of the business such X, Y, and Z. This resulting in a time saving of X hours per day/week/month.

Obviously don't lie, but it does help to look at your work from a managers perspective. I think lots of us have done tasks that we can describe in simple terms but a manager would look as "I've just saved half by day by getting that task I hated automated/streamlined". Those are your achievements in a role like that.

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From your own words:

"make sure the reports show the right data"

"automate the reporting process"

You'll need to make the phrasing grab at the reader a bit more, but this is the basic gist of your job function on this project. Trying to dress it up into something that it isn't would in fact do you a disservice when you are looking for a new position with very definitive requirements.

While you may not feel like this is as "important" as directly increasing the revenue of a company, it plays a vital role in reporting the correct magnitude of that revenue to management.

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To dress up "make sure the reports show the right data", you might say something like "verified the accuracy of the XYZ reports". –  mhwombat Apr 10 at 17:47

You don't work on an assembly line, so you can't say number of widgets per hour. Most accomplishments are relative and difficult to quantify with exact numbers, so describe them in general and positive terms.

  1. Describe what makes your models complex. Are these derivatives, large amounts of data, or statistics involved? Other financial people should be able to understand and determine how complex is really complex.
  2. "On Time" and maybe "On Budget" - is a measurable outcome. Now, did your boss provide way too much time to get it done? Probably not. Most people assume you're not given enough time. Maybe not your current employer, but a work reference should be able to indicate if you get things done on time.
  3. Accuracy - If no one complains or makes you do them over (and possibly miss a deadline), for all practical purposes, they're accurate. Anyone with a claim that their work is 99% accurate has a lot of explaining to do. Did it pass some review? Yes or No. That is a measurement.
  4. Amount of Input - Did you come up with any of these models? Did you suggest certain formulas or particular parts of the business to analyze? It's a good sign of initiative and creativity (I sort of hate to combine that word with finance and accounting.).

Review any email about positive comments, "Thanks for getting this to me with such short notice". This is why it is a good habit to follow-up with people when you do something (I realize this could get too tedious). Ask if that was what they wanted (accurate). Indicate where you "added something" when you send it.

If people offer some praise on your current job, it's a good indicator you'll do good work on your next.

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You asked about achievements, so perhaps this answer isn't exactly what you're looking for. But just in case you're not aware... a CV can (and probably should) list your job responsibilities as well as your achievements. Of the things you mention, the "consulting with internal clients, etc." bit strikes me as particularly important, so don't leave it out. It tells someone reviewing your CV that you can work with others, that you can communicate technical concepts to non-technical people, that you can gather requirements (finding out what the clients need and want), and recommend solutions. The phrases "gather requirements" and "recommend solutions" might be good to include.

In my experience, CVs for people in IT tend to focus on responsibilities rather than eye-catching accomplishments like you would expect for someone in sales. Wherever you have accomplishments to list, you should do so. But don't feel bad if you can't claim to have "increased sales by 200%" or something like that.

Be sure to mention "working with complex financial data models" in your CV too.

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