“Almost everything you do in any job can be done well or it can be done poorly. When writing a resume, you want to paint a picture that shows you did it well.” That’s the advice Ask a Manager’s Alison Green gives readers in her article, How can I write a resume when my jobs don’t have measurable results. In the article, Green explains the importance of preparing a resume which presents quantifiable results.

To attract a hiring manager’s attention, your resume shouldn’t just describe what you did in the past, but what you accomplished.

Use the Professional Experience section of your resume to present your greatest performances

While each section of your resume contributes to the overall impression an employer will have of you, it is in the Professional Experience section of your resume where you can paint the most vivid picture of just how well you perform.

That’s because, beneath each job listed in your Professional Experience section, you’ll place several bullet points describing your work. Many candidates fill this section with a list of the job duties they performed. But savvy job seekers know that what hiring managers really want to see is not a list of tasks and responsibilities but of achievements and results.

In the article How to Assess a Resume: 12 Ways to Identify an Outstanding Employee Candidate, business owner Firas Kittaneh tells the authors that his hiring team looks for individuals whose resumes show quantifiable success. Kittaneh adds that his team uses this information to assess the potential value the candidate can bring to his business.

Prospective employers are looking at your past performance to gauge your future potential.

The need for your resume to have an attention-grabbing, performance-packed Personal Experience section is the reason you should start keeping a results journal now.  

Your resume shouldn’t just describe what you did in the past, but what you accomplished

Maybe you’re thinking, I’m not looking for a job right now; why can’t I wait to fill in my accomplishments when and if I need to refresh my resume?

Trust me on this: your memory isn’t as good as you think it is.

You may think that when the time comes it will be easy for you to remember how many people were on the team you led or the percentage increase in sales you achieved, but don’t count on it. Memories fade and facts become distorted with time. Updating your resume will be much easier if you record each positive professional outcome when it happens. It doesn’t matter if your journal is a physical notebook or a digital log, just make sure you use it.

Updating your resume will be much easier if you record each positive professional outcome when it happens.

In addition to recording your results, keep physical copies of commendations, performance reviews, and other documentation related to your accomplishments in a designated file or scan them into your digital record. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but you’ll be glad not to have to dig through your old paperwork or call former colleagues to pin down exact numbers later. Now, if only I took this advice when it came to saving receipts for my taxes!

Start keeping a journal of your accomplishments now and you'll be thanking yourself later

Take control of your data and your career narrative

Of course, not all of your accomplishments will end up on your resume, but you should keep a record of each one nonetheless. It is from this longer list of achievements that you’ll choose the most relevant achievements to include when you prepare your resume for a specific job. (Tip: To decide which achievements to include, prepare several different variations of your resume and check each one using our free resume optimization tool.)

Should you still keep track of your accomplishments even if you have no intention of changing jobs? Sure! A little self-assessment never hurt anyone. Keeping track of your accomplishments will provide you with valuable data about your strengths and might point you in the direction of new career opportunities. Plus, a journal filled with quantifiable results can make you feel confident in your ability to justify a request for a promotion or raise.

Businesses are increasingly looking to data to guide their decisions. So, begin keeping your results journal now and you will be well prepared to create a winning resume whenever you need it.

To figure out the right keywords for your accomplishments, use Carmen's Resume Customization application.