Written by Fatemah Mirza, CareerTuners

Businessman on top of a mountain with a flag
Most people aren’t bad writers, but nearly everyone has a difficult time writing about themselves.

Our clients often get so caught up in their day-to-day tasks that they may lose track of the bigger picture. They’re not sure how to communicate their accomplishments on paper, especially when restricted to a mere two pages.

In this article, I will share with you our secret sauce for asking questions. By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to brainstorm powerful accomplishments to showcase in your resume.

Before you do that, I highly recommend reading through a few job listings you’re interested in to familiarize yourself with your target companies’ needs.

All the questions we ask our clients fall within one of three larger “Question Umbrellas”:

  • What challenges have you resolved?
  • What key skills have you used?
  • What results have you achieved?

Resume Writers often refer to this model as the “Challenge-Action-Result” (“CAR”) model. As you read through the rest of this article, I recommend jotting down your ideas on a sheet of paper before they slip away. Don’t worry too much about making things look perfect. If you do, you’ll edit yourself as you write and get nowhere. Focus on just getting all your stories down on paper before you start assembling things into concise bullets for your resume.

I recommend dividing your notepaper into three columns and putting the word “Challenge”, “Action”, and “Result” at the top. This will keep you organized as you brainstorm.

Challenge
If you’re having a hard time thinking about the challenges you have resolved throughout your professional career, while volunteering, and through your projects, here are a few brainstorming questions that you can ask yourself to guide your flow of thought. As you brainstorm, jot down your ideas under the “Challenge” column in your notepaper. For example:

  • When you first got there, what challenges did you immediately see in the whole organization?
  • What challenges did you see in your specific department? Your team?
  • What sort of challenges were you hired to address?
  • Why do you feel you were hired over the other people that you interviewed against?

Feel free to address any additional challenges that occurred during your tenure as they relate to competition, budget, revenue, public relations, marketing, etc.

Action
Now that you have a list of challenges that you resolved written out in front of you, think about the actions you took to resolve each one. In your notepaper, briefly jot down the actions you took next to the challenge it goes with. Here are a few additional brainstorming questions:

  • What tools did you use?
  • What programs did you use?
  • Did you use any of the tools and programs mentioned in your target job listing?

Result
By now, you should have both the “Challenge” and the “Action” columns filled out in your notepaper. In this next step, briefly jot down the result of your actions under the “Result” column. Here are a few additional brainstorming questions:

  • How does what you did compare with your industry as a whole?
  • How does what you did compare with your peers/company average?
  • How does what you did compare with benchmarks?

Tying it All Together
After creating a new “Challenge-Action-Result” notepaper for each organization you worked for, you can begin writing out your accomplishments.  I’ve color-coded this framework to show you a few example bullets that our team put together:

Achieved Result by addressing Challenge and taking Actions.

  • Increased sales by 30% and profits by 10% in a declining market through quality management, process improvement, and the use of Lean principles.
  • Reduced expenses by $6M by creating a predictive model for workforce planning, reducing seasonal hiring challenges, and improving employee training.
  • Secured $19M by establishing a Change Management Program, eliminating redundant positions, and creating lucrative packages to retain top talent.
  • Created safe working spaces in extreme weather by ensuring strict adherence to industry and company safety protocols.

If you’d like more help with your resume, please get in touch with me: https://careertuners.com/contact

In addition to our resume writing service, we offer a LinkedIn profile development service, a cover letter writing service, interview coaching, networking coaching, and a resume distribution service.


Fatemah Mirza founded CareerTuners in 2010, and since then, has helped several thousand ambitious professionals land their dream jobs. She can be reached via email at fatemah@careertuners.com.

Bristol Associates is an executive search firm with a 50-year history of excellence. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies and candidates in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, restaurant and nonprofit/arts businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a job seeker.

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