It's obvious what employers mean they ask about education and experience, but when you are questioned about activities and accomplishments, you may find yourself entering a gray area. What some people consider a relevant activity, others might consider merely a hobby or interest. Find out how to determine what activities and accomplishments belong in a resume and how to present them in a way that showcases your skills to an employer.
Accomplishments and Activities
Accomplishments and activities include those items that show your relevant personal qualities, such as energy level, initiative, teamwork and communication skills, as described in "The Mayfield Handbook of Scientific and Technical Writing" used at MIT. Some activities, however, do not fall under this category -- ask yourself if the activity boosts your resume or merely takes up space. "Played rec soccer" doesn't tell an employer much, but "Was captain of a co-ed rec soccer team from 2010-2013" shows teamwork, leadership and commitment to an activity.
Be Detailed and Specific
One of the top mistakes you can make in a resume is listing only job duties rather than accomplishments, advises a 2011 CNN Money article. An employer wants to see that you've produced tangible results. Stating "maintained 15 client accounts" has a much stronger impact than "was responsible for client accounts." For accomplishments that resulted in a deliverable, such as a presentation, list the accomplishment by title, date and location. For all other accomplishments and activities, provide one to two sentences detailing the activity, when it occurred and your level of involvement.
Your resume should start off with your name, contact information and purpose, followed by your relevant industry experience, education and other work experience. Next, detail your accomplishments, including publications, presentations, certifications and other items you've accomplished on the job. List them in chronological order, or if some are much larger accomplishments than others, list them in order of relevance. Your accomplishments may also include any activities in which you are or were involved, especially those in which you undertook a leadership role. The final sections of your resume should include relevant skills, hobbies, interests and references, if requested.
If you have several activities and accomplishments to include, make a separate section titled "Activities and Accomplishments," "Professional Accomplishments" or another name that highlights your achievements. If you only have one or two activities or accomplishments or if the accomplishments directly relate to a job detailed elsewhere in the resume, list them as bullet points under another section of your resume such as "Relevant Work Experience."
Natasha Hochlowski holds a dual B.S. in chemistry and writing from Loyola University Maryland. She has been writing professionally since 2007, frequently contributing to "The Journal of Young Investigators," and has worked as a technical writer/editor for several major pharmaceutical companies.