Start Building Your Resume: List Accomplishments, Key Success Factors

By Jim Hasse

First define what success means to you. Then you can more easily pinpoint your accomplishments and identify your key success factors.

That list of accomplishments and key success factors can give you a framework for developing an exceptional resume and the talking points for showing prospective employers how you can contribute to their continued success.

If you first recognize what must be present before you -- or others who work with you -- can feel successful, that knowledge will then enlighten everything from your career choice to how you supervise others.

If, for example, as a job seeker with a disability, you feel you need to have a perceived advantage over others to be attractive as an employee, this knowledge -- and the ability to use it -- can be your competitive edge in today's job market. In your eyes, making the most of that advantage is your definition of success.

Defining Success

Individuals tend to define success in at least four ways:

  1. Recognition - Being praise-motivated means it will be harder for you to feel successful unless you receive some kind of external recognition for it. Taking this too far will make you needy and doubt yourself. Accepting good healthy praise will feel great. You should probably look for work where your efforts will be perceptible to others. You will not enjoy utter isolation. You must at least hear about your success. You will not work well with people who criticize you constantly or ignore you altogether. You also will never feel good about a job that you can't do well.
  2. Accomplishment - Being accomplishment-motivated means you will most likely feel the most successful when you yourself know a task has been completed and that it's behind you. One of the tricky things, though, is that, if you receive praise and you don't feel like you accomplished anything, you tend to think the person praising you is insincere and untrustworthy. If you don't see for yourself that a job is not well done, then you often feel you should have left it undone.
  3. Belonging - If you are affiliation-motivated, you value being associated with a successful group. This loyalty could be to a family, a school, a club, a team, a nationality, country or even a continent.
  4. Influence - You may be influence-motivated. It isn't that you want to force someone else to do things your way. Rather, you want to inspire them to take that path. You may feel you have a better way of doing something, a better plan for a project, a better idea for solving a problem or a better view of the consequences of a good or bad decision.

You can use these rough guidelines for how people generally define success for themselves (recognition, accomplishment, belonging and influence) in at least three constructive ways:

  • Get to know what true success means for you.
  • Gain the best fit for you in terms of career, job, company, and co-workers.
  • Use your self-awareness (and the awareness of different approaches others may have) to work more effectively with co-workers.

I tend to be "accomplishment motivated."  Here's how I used that bit of insight to take my critical first steps in building the framework for my current resume -- a framework I started developing in 1993.

In building that framework, recognizing that I'm "accomplishment motivated" helped me identify my most important accomplishments and the key success factors within those accomplishments which would likely drive my future achievements. 

Identifying my Key Success Factors

I used the following eight steps to examine my work experience, review my accomplishments and identify my key success factors -- an essential, initial exercise before I developed my resume and charted a path to my next career position.

  1. Listed my functional experiences on the job as well as in volunteer positions.
  2. Identified three to five over-arching, key success factors which contributed to the accomplishments I listed as functional experiences in step one.
  3. Defined briefly what these key success factors meant to me in terms of the individual skills and personal qualities I used to build the accomplishments I listed in step one.
  4. Selected three to five individual skills/personal qualities from the list in step three which most closely apply to the accomplishments I listed in step one.
  5. Ranked these five skills/qualities I possess according to how strong they are in me, how useful they've been to me and how enjoyable they've been to me.
  6. Matched my key success factors I identified in step two with the five skills/qualities I ranked in step five according to strength.
  7. Cited two specific examples of functional experience I listed in step one to illustrate those key success factors/skills/ qualities.
  8. Chose the best functional experience example of the two in each case.

Building my Resume

Here's how I used my key success factors to build my resume:

  • I rearranged my key success factors, skills and qualities, putting the most important first, and pruned them from five to four.
  • This list identified me as a resource person for defining direction and managing change within an organization. To me, that could be summed up in two words: Gaining Alignment. "Gaining Alignment" became the "hinge" for putting the pieces of my resume together.
  • I now converted my four key success factors, skills and qualities into four key result areas, using action verbs to succinctly describe essential activities involved in each of the functional experience examples I had previously chosen. For each, I then added more concrete results. So I ended up with one page which highlighted my functional experience.
  • This one-page statement of my functional experience became the core of my resume, a 17-by-11 sheet of very light gray cover stock folded in half. It became my second page. The fourth page (or backside) of my one-fold pamphlet (resume) I left bank.
  • The third page included these four sections: Professional Experience, Education, Professional Affiliations, and Other Commitments.
  • I carried the "Gaining Realignment" theme from page two (functional experience) to the front page of my resume by citing a favorite quotation that defined what those two words meant to me.

Here is that quotation:

"When you identify with your company's purpose,
when you experience ownership in a shared vision,
you find yourself doing your life's work,
instead of just doing time."

- John Naisbitt
Futurist, author

See how my completed resume looks online and how I tie my experience in learning how to live well with cerebral palsy into my success in business.

I now see, almost 20 years later, that "Gaining Alignment" still works as my two-word statement of my purpose in life.  I've been out of the business communications field for two decades, but, as someone who is focused on disability employment issues, I'm now helping jobseekers align themselves with the needs of employers - a different venue but with the same purpose.

My Recommendations

Identify your key success factors, workplace skills and personal qualities and convert them into a one-page statement of concrete results wrapped around your functional experience.

Your key search words for resume databases will pop out of your statement of functional experience.

Once you have that core, you can adapt your resume to a wide variety of uses in your marketing campaign for a job that is right for you.


Copyright © 2012. Hasse Communication Counseling. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, ( has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both job seekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (, a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Lighthouse International (, New York City, is the author of the 272-page hard-cover book, which continues to evolve online on Hasse's forum, Timely Tips for Retaining Employee Talent ( Jim is founder of, the comprehensive career coaching guide for parenting youngsters seven to 27 years old who have cerebral palsy.