How to Write Achievements in Your CV? Resume Accomplishments Guide
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- Why Should You Use an Achievement-Based CV?
- How Do You Choose Who to Interview?
- What Should Be Included in Your CV Achievements? With Examples
- How to Identify Your Best CV Achievements
- What CV Achievements to Avoid
- How to List Achievements on Your CV?
- Examples of Achievements for CV
- Final Thoughts
The most effective type of CV or resume is one that focuses on an individual’s achievements.
The simple fact of being responsible for something impressive in a past job doesn’t necessarily mean you excelled at it. An achievement based resume hones in on the results you got – rather than the duties you performed – to help a future employer see your potential.
Accomplishments on your resume are good to include, but many job-seekers do not include these accomplishments. This is often because they base their CV achievements purely on the job description.
In this article, we'll show you how to write achievements in a CV effectively and what accomplishments to put on your CV.
Imagine for a moment that you are responsible for interviewing candidates for a position in your own firm. In front of you sit 20 CVs; each is well presented and features similar qualifications, a number of relevant past jobs and appropriate work experience placements.
Creating an achievement-based CV focused on tangible strengths, as opposed to simply listing responsibilities, will help to get your CV noticed and increase your chances of securing an interview.
Consider these two examples:
- ‘I was responsible for the company's filing system.’
- ‘I streamlined the company's filing system and saved the company £6,000 in temp costs.’
Which would you be more attracted to? An achievement-based CV proves your past performance and gives an interviewer confidence that you will work hard to get results.
Your CV achievements are the things you did which made a positive impact and contribution to your employer’s business. The skills and knowledge you'd need to perform your everyday work duties do not count.
The most powerful CV achievements are those which are quantifiable, so include numbers or percentages where possible.
The statement, ‘Increased sales revenue’, for example, is stronger if the reader knows by how much you increased sales revenue. You could try: ‘Increased sales by 15%’ or ‘Increased sales by £10,000’.
It’s fine to estimate if you don’t know the exact number, as long as you state that you are estimating. It’s important to be confident that what you are saying is fairly accurate, and can be confirmed if an interviewer asks a previous employer for a reference.
If some of your best results were achieved as part of a team, you can still include them. For example, ‘Member of a high-performing team that won the regional support award last year.’
Highlighting team performance demonstrates that you’re a good team player – but it doesn’t always tell a prospective employer how you contributed to the team’s success.
For maximum impact, you need to make sure that you include specific details of the role you played. Don’t leave the person reading your resume accomplishments to guess what your contribution was.
It takes thought to establish what your CV achievements are. If you’ve not had a sales or marketing role, it can be difficult to quantify your achievements in past jobs.
Other ways that you may have contributed to a business could include:
- Increasing the loyalty or satisfaction of existing customers
- Solving a problem or challenge
- Saving money by negotiating a better deal from a supplier
- Implementing a new time-saving process
- Developing an idea your employer acted on
- Launching new products, projects or initiatives
- Increasing the company press coverage or market recognition
One of the best ways to identify your career accomplishments is to look at your skills and previous job duties one-by-one. As you go through them, ask yourself what positive difference you made to your employer while you were doing that particular activity.
You can also review work-related feedback you’ve been given; for example, the results of performance reviews.
People with little or no work experience should still aim to include CV accomplishments. If you’re in this position, it’s fine to include accomplishments from other parts of your life on your resume, as long as they are relevant to the job applied for.
Consider the following areas when thinking about which resume achievements you could include:
- Raising money for charity – How did you contribute and how much did you raise?
- Serving on a committee – What role did you play and how did you make a difference?
- Leading a student team on a project – What size was the team and what did it achieve under your leadership?
- Awards won – Don’t just list the awards, elaborate on what you did to win them.
With all of the above, try to make the detail around the achievement as relevant to the job you are applying for as possible.
Imagine that you won the ‘Student Ambassador of the Year’ award and are applying for an office manager role.
Instead of saying: ‘I was awarded this accolade because I helped others find their classrooms and gave out leaflets.’
Say something like: ‘I was awarded this accolade for my work ensuring that students felt looked after at all times. I responded quickly and efficiently to issues students were having and worked hard to resolve them.’
By doing this you are painting a picture of how successful you would be as an office manager – looking after staff and dealing with problems as they arise.
Debate exists as to whether personal CV achievements should be included in a resume.
Some say they should, because it demonstrates what kind of person you are.
Others feel that the employer just wants to see that you will get results, and will worry about whether you are a good fit personality-wise once they meet you at interview.
The best approach is to go with what you have; if you’re a student fresh out of university then it’s likely you will need to include some personal achievements for your resume.
However, if you have had a few previous roles and some great CV achievements relevant to the role you are applying for, don’t waste space talking about what you achieved outside of work.
Like any detail in your CV, it’s important to make sure your achievements are relevant.
Don’t be afraid to omit those that aren't – have a list of your CV achievements saved in a document and pick from that for each position you are applying for.
Tweak the order of your achievements for CV according to the job you are applying for.
For example, if you’re applying for a sales position, don’t start your achievements section with, ‘Cut office recycling down by 10%’ when further down the bullet points you have, ‘Increased sales by 30%’.
Remember not to confuse duties or responsibilities with achievements. Your key skills have enabled you to secure a previous role at a certain level of responsibility, but you need to talk about the impact you made in that role.
Here are some examples of how duties might be written in a CV:
- ‘Managed the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.’
- ‘Organised the monthly email newsletter that was sent out to clients.’
Here are examples of how you might write achievements based around those duties:
- ‘Improved CRM accuracy by 34% by implementing a weekly “clear up” session involving all staff.’
- ‘Increased open rate of the monthly email newsletter by 78%.’
Don’t feel you have to add too much detail to your list of achievements on your CV – excite the reader with some impressive figures and then save the rest for the interview.
A popular choice for the placement of accomplishments in a resume is a dedicated achievements section. It can be a great way to sell yourself to the employer and get them to read on; use simple bullet points (three maximum) to capture the reader’s attention.
Alternatively, you can split up your achievements and put them in the appropriate sections (personal, professional, educational, etc.)
If you’ve got several relevant previous positions, you might want to feature an achievements section for each of them.
So, a job entry might look something like this:
Jan 2016–Nov 2018
I led a team of five in planning and executing media-focused conferences around the world.
- Putting together an appealing agenda
- Sourcing speakers
- Promoting the event
- Devising sponsorship packages
- Managing the budget
- Liaising with suppliers
- Increased sales for annual conference by 70% over two years.
- Achieved a 30% saving on outgoings by reworking the budget template.
- Sold all sponsorship packages for the 2018 Media Expo.
Here is an example of professional achievements that you might use in a resume to emphasize your skills:
"Surpassed sales targets by 25% in the first quarter, implementing a targeted marketing strategy that attracted new clients and retained existing ones."
"Identified and implemented cost-saving measures, resulting in a 15% reduction in departmental expenses while maintaining operational efficiency."
"Streamlined project workflows, reducing project completion time by 20% and enhancing overall team productivity."
"Achieved a client satisfaction rate of 95% through effective communication, timely issue resolution, and a proactive approach to addressing client needs."
"Published research paper in [Journal Name], contributing to the field of [Your Field] and earning recognition from peers."
"Received [Specific Award] for academic excellence, highlighting a commitment to scholarly pursuits and exceptional performance."
"Led [Student Organization] as president, overseeing successful initiatives such as [Project Name], which positively impacted the student community."
"Completed advanced training in [Specific Skill/Technology], enhancing proficiency and contributing to the successful implementation of [Project/Task]."
"Earned [Certification Name] to demonstrate expertise in [Relevant Field], adding value to the team and ensuring up-to-date industry knowledge."
A CV which simply lists the responsibilities you had in a job does not provide any evidence to suggest your employer was pleased with what you did. By including achievements in your CV, you are giving the reader reasons to invite you to interview.
When it comes to your CV achievements, don’t stretch the truth. Make sure that everything you say you did can be backed up by your referees should they be asked. If you were involved in a team achievement, but you can’t talk about the details with authority – don’t include it.
Your accomplishments in past jobs give the prospective employer a good indication of how you are likely to perform in the job they are advertising. Remember, powerful stats and impressive statements are difficult to ignore.