By Scot Herrick

Resume results, accomplishments, deliverables - pundits tell you that you must have these on your resume in order to get noticed. But what, exactly, IS an accomplishment you can put on a resume anyway? How do you go about constructing it for your resume?

Let's start with a definition: an accomplishment is a work effort you completed that moved the business forward, shown through numbers. If you look at that definition carefully, there are two parts. The first is something that moved the business forward. The second is that the results are shown through numbers. Let's take a look at each.

Accomplishments are About Business Results

Every person's work needs to support moving the business forward. Doing programming, for example, may be your job, but programming is not a business result. In all instances, you must tie what you do to how it impacts the business. Your programming is not only programming, your programming helped the business accept faster payments from customers. Unless you tie your work to a business need, like getting faster payments from customers, your resume won't have the powerful impact it needs to get noticed.

These business needs usually come from your work goals. Your goals represent the most important work you can be doing on the job. Consequently, they should be the first place you look to tie your work to the business impact. Even if your goals don't specifically spell out how they impact the business, starting with your goals is the right place to develop the impact to the business.

An easy way to determine if you are getting to the business result is to continue to say "which means" about your work. I"m doing programming for the "Inventory Control Ninja Project" which means my code will help reduce inventory which means the inventory turns increase which means the company will save money on inventory. your business impact is reducing inventory investment through increasing the inventory turns.

Accomplishments Need Numbers for Proof

Simply saying that you helped the company reduce their inventory investment really doesn't cut it. You have to show it. The way you show it is by providing numbers that demonstrate your accomplishment. You don't want the hiring manager to make up stuff about what your accomplishment means, so you provide numbers that help you then have a discussion about the importance of your work.

For us, unlike CEO's or CIO's, business results you need numbers for center around three areas: revenue, expenses, or productivity. When you are looking to quantify your business results, those are the three areas that have bang for the buck. Now, most of us won't be able to show revenue increases from our work, but we certainly can show reduced expenses or improved productivity through some element of cycle time.

The key is to find out how your work can be measured so you can use these numbers to show your work progress and, oh-by-the-way, put on your resume. This will, I guarantee, take some effort. Most business reporting systems don't get to the individual level of work performance. And your technology manager might think you are from Mars or Venus or something when you start asking the business impact of your work. But get there; this is what differentiates you from others to get the next gig.

Tracking Current Results

Have a system for consistently tracking and then storing your accomplishments. I happen to like killer status reports for doing this, but any system will do. Your competition is not doing this. When they get to the point where they have to do this, say after a layoff, they can't re-create the accomplishments for the resume because all of their corporate resources are gone.

And there you are with accomplishments that relate to the business needs shown with great numbers to back them up on your resume when everyone else didn't do the extra work you did.

Who do you think will get the interview now?

Scot Herrick is the author of I've Landed My Dream Job -Now What? and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. provides online career management training for workers who typically work in a corporate cubicle. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.