A lot of self-deprecating workers consistently sell themselves short when it comes to their professional triumphs. The common problem for so many employees today, particularly among the millennial demographic, is that if they are not changing the world for the better or on the cutting edge of greatness, then they completely dismiss any and all accomplishments in their tenure. This is a poor attitude, either if you’re embarking upon a new job or changing careers.
No matter what industry you have been employed in for the last 13 years, or the work that you performed for the last 6 months, you still achieved quite a bit. A full-time or part-time job, a student internship or a C-suite office, every position produces a wave of opportunities to let your human capital shine. From the mundane to the complex, there was an abundance of highlights in your time at the company – just admit it.
Writing a CV can produce some grey hairs but knowing what achievements to list in your résumé can make you pull out those grey hairs. So, how exactly do you write down your accomplishments in your CV? Let’s examine how.
1. Identify Accomplishments
Knowing what to include in the résumé accomplishments section can be a taxing pursuit. Considering how much you completed at the local coffee shop or out-of-town digital marketing outfit, it might seem like an impossible task. It doesn’t need to be; all it takes is a little bit of introspection and brainstorming.
Sit down on your sofa, think about your tenure at Acme International and mull over what you accomplished.
2. Don’t Confuse Duties with Accomplishments
Unsure what you achieved as an entry-level sales clerk? Don’t know what you accomplished as a telemarketer? Still stumped by your time as a paralegal for three years? You’re not the only one.
Because of this, though, you might rely on listing your duties rather than your accomplishments. You should never do this because they are separate from each other.
Indeed, your duty as a journalist is to report on the facts, confirm sources and market your content. Your accomplishments, however, included boosting clicks by 20%, amplifying social media engagement by 10% and receiving an internal award for Best Sports Reporter.
3. Quantify Achievements
What’s the best way to make a point of how much of an asset you were to the previous firms you were employed by? The numbers. As they say, it’s all about the numbers.
Yes, we can all write about how we were a model employee or were the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t quantify it and back it up with data.
With big data inserting itself into every industry, numbers, figures and statistics are imperative these days.
4. Focus on Results
Once you have written down a list of all the good you ever achieved at past employers, you then need to narrow them down to the position that you’re applying for rather than adding them all.
The next step is to consider the results you delivered and the value you added.
So, you were given a reward for a job well done, but how did that translate into benefits for the company? The key to a list of successes is to determine how it helped the company in that quarter or year.
In addition to results, you want to show how you added value to the business by including numbers, whether it is how much money you saved the mom-and-pop shop or how you increased the number of clients for the advertising firm.
5. Select Achievements the Employer Wants
You were essentially the valedictorian of your office. You achieved quite a bit, from managing your team to a record quarter to hosting a canned food drive during Thanksgiving to receiving three promotions in a two-year span. You were impressive.
While it may be tempting to list all your achievements from your time with your previous employer, you should refrain from doing so. The achievements you list should be what your future employer wants. To determine this requires you to peruse the corporate website and learn what it values the most and what it expects from its personnel.
6. Stay Relevant to the Job
A common mistake that jobseekers make is trying to fit everything they have ever done on their CV, even if it is unrelated to the position they’re applying for.
For instance, you are applying for a coding position at a major tech firm in Silicon Valley, but you think that it’s necessary to add that you made 500 cups of coffee per day as a barista. It is irrelevant to the employment opportunity you’re interested in. Ultimately, you don’t want to insert anything that is irrelevant to the job or even industry you want to work in.
7. Follow the PAR Method
The first thing to do is to think about awards, promotions, praise and new special responsibilities you received. Or, if you cannot recall any significant accolades, then you can also peruse through previous performance evaluations which, as we all know, were top-notch! If you are unable to comb through history in your mind, embrace the PAR method:
- Problem: Identify an issue at work.
- Action: Explain how you resolved the problem.
- Result: Highlight the outcome of your brilliance – er, decision making.
8. Use Action Words
Some jobseekers think that experts are exaggerating when they say hiring managers only take a few moments to scan through the dozens of CVs sent to them for a single position. Here’s the thing: this estimate is 100% correct, particularly in large businesses and corporations.
Since it is well known that hiring managers take only a few seconds reading through CVs, you need to stand out in those precious moments. How? By employing action or power words, including action verbs, popular skills, keywords from the job listing and corporate values. Be sure to start your bullet points with a power word, too.
9. Choose a Format
The format of creating an accomplishments section in your CV is not as problematic as you would imagine. It requires a few bullet points, and that is it – it’s what’s inside those points that really matter.
Here is a sample of how you can format achievements in your CV:
You could also list notable accomplishments in their own dedicated section, usually underneath your personal profile, but a safer bet would be to include achievements in different parts of your CV (for example, in your personal profile, within job descriptions, etc).
10. Prioritise Your Accomplishments
As you design your CV, it is always imperative to remember that the human resources department only takes a couple of moments to glance through your document. With this in mind, you need to strategically place your accomplishments so that the hiring manager can easily look for those keywords and power language to ascertain if you’re a good fit or not.
Simply put: it’s all about priorities and structure.
11. Keep it Short
Let’s be candid: People don’t read anymore. So, what makes you think employers want to read your autobiography? Hint: they don’t! And this is where your inner scribe shines, since you need to condense your seven years of accomplishments and experience into a single page. That might seem impossible, but with some research, creativity and dedication, you can keep it short.
12. Be Specific
We all share the same disdain for vagueness. Whether we are electing politicians or perusing through dating profiles, we demand precision and detail. Ditto for businesses wanting the best and brightest in the vast talent pool.
But you should never confuse being specific with writing a novel. You can still keep it short (see above) and be as specific as possible.
13. Avoid Ancient History
The year was 1997. Seinfeld was winding down, everyone was quoting Austin Powers and denim jackets were all the rage. That was also the year you headed an email marketing campaign for a dot-com era company that has since shuttered its doors. It’s great that you’re taking the employer down memory lane, but here’s a question: have you done anything since then?
What we are getting at is the fact that you should forget about mentioning anything regarding the good old days – or ancient history. The latest, the better.
14. Don’t Lie or Exaggerate
Tell the truth – or at least don’t tell a lie. Truer words were never spoken.
It is true that hiring managers do expect applicants to embellish their CV just a tad bit. However, they certainly do not want you to exaggerate or lie about your professional career – remember: in the digital age, everything can easily be uncovered.
When you begin to exaggerate or fib, such as saying you helped boost sales by 75% at a leading national retailer when you were just a copyeditor, then you’re in a rough terrain.
You have sent over the same CV to 23 different job advertisements. The result? Zero replies. You want to tear your hair out, send uncouth emails to the company and blast the business on social media. Before you do that, why not look in the mirror and ask yourself why nobody is replying to your applications?
A common mistake that jobseekers make is using a one-size-fits-all approach to submit cover letters, CVs and applications. Because not all jobs and their advertisements are the same, your submissions should not be the same either. In other words, it would be a prudent move to experiment with a diverse array of documents to highlight your career and tailor each CV to the company.
Everything from utilising different power words to hiring a professional CV editor to proofread and take another look at your CV, you should send over a variety of CVs. This will ensure that your quest for the perfect job is not like Tom Cruise’s thespian endeavours: cruise control. It takes extra work.
It’s hard enough trying to obtain employment in today’s hyper-competitive labour market. But it’s also just as tough to compose a CV that will garner the right eyeballs. Pobody’s nerfect (see!), and you will inevitably make errors along the way, whether it is forgetting about that superb sale you made or typing in the wrong kind of action verb. The key is to not get frustrated or disgruntled in your employment crusade because you’ll get an ulcer doing so.
As long as you learn from your mistakes, then you will always succeed in the end – and that is a remarkable feat in itself!
Do you have any tips and tricks about listing accomplishments on your CV? Join the conversation down below and let us know!