How to write your CV achievements with examples

No hiring manager will be impressed by a candidate who tells them what they do for a job, they want to see CV achievements listed throughout. Your future boss is perfectly aware of the responsibilities of the role in question.  Instead, they are interested in what a candidate has accomplished and how it made a difference for their previous employers. Past performance is an indicator of future success.

This guide on how to write CV achievements will:

  • Look at the different types of achievements to list.
  • Explore how to construct an impressive accomplishment.
  • Look at where to list the achievement in your CV.
  • Share some work accomplishment examples by industry sector.

Let’s start with the key question: what should I write for achievements?

List of achievements for a CV

There are different scenarios that may be considered an achievement for a CV.

All involve a concerted action on the part of the candidate to bring a benefit (financial or otherwise) for their employer. When you are choosing accomplishments for your CV, it is important to consider the sorts of tasks that you will be asked to perform with your future employer and how they might impact the KPIs attached to your role. How do you answer what is your biggest accomplishment? 

Example CV achievements

Here is a list of accomplishments for a CV that you can use as an inspiration or direct basis for your own:

  • Increased sales or profit margins
  • Financial cost savings / improved bottom line
  • Improved productivity in terms of time spent
  • Solutions that you found to unsolved problems
  • Innovations or ideas that have led to a step-change
  • Processes improved and procedures developed
  • Awards that you have won (with a reason why)
  • Promotion to a different role in the company
  • Impact on the development of those around you
  • Offer outstanding service to customers or clients

In all of these situations, the accomplishment outlines the difference that you have made.

CV achievements

So, how do you go about creating a concise and powerful window onto your awesomeness? 

How to list achievements in your CV

How do you explain your CV achievements? There are two key aspects of crafting an impressive one-line accomplishment:

  1. Piecing together the three-part structure
  2. Ensuring that the accomplishment is quantifiable

A CV accomplishment structure typically consists of three parts:

  • Action verb to demonstrate my skill
  • Specific task that I completed.
  • Quantifiable outcome for my company.

One of the hallmarks of a great cover letter is a sprinkling of relevant and ideally fairly original action verbs.

Starting an accomplishment statement with a verb that outlines the skill that you have used is a great way to focus the attention of the reader. What are your greatest strengths?

The task part of the accomplishment focuses on what you did.

Try to be as specific as possible to give the detail of exactly what led to the eventual result. If it is a team effort, be sure to highlight what your part entailed as otherwise it is easily misconstrued at interview.

An accomplishment would feel empty without an accompanying (successful and impressive) outcome. 

You might have created some new process, but unless you state how the process changed things for the better, the reader can equally assume that the impact may have been less than impressive. It is also critical that you are able to quantify the outcome.

There are three key ways to quantify the outcome of an accomplishment: timeframe, scale and range.

The timescale of the accomplishment allows the hiring manager to understand over which period the accomplishment took place. 

A 3% cost saving over a year is impressive, but over a six-year period it is definitely less so. If you don’t mention the timescale, the hiring manager will have to make assumptions, so if the timescale is praise-worthy, don’t forget it.

The scale of the accomplishment offers a sense of perspective.

You might have won £1.2m of business last year, but that achievement is so much more impressive if you mention that this was 70% of total sales (in a sales team of three). When you consider that employers differ significantly in terms of turnover and size, you have to give a sense of scale to highlight the achievement. What makes you proud of yourself?

Offering a range of results lets you quantify a larger number of actions.

For example, you may have negotiated over a hundred agreements during your employment, so offering an average cost saving or range of percentages for cost savings might be a useful indication of success. I saved the company between 4-10% on the cost price will give a broader idea of the volume of work that has been done.

So, you now know how to answer what your biggest accomplishment is, but where do you put this information in your CV?

Where to list CV achievements in your document

There are two places that a hiring manager would expect a candidate to enthuse about their accomplishments: in the work experience section and in the personal statement.

Work experience section

Most CVs will contain a work experience section with 5-7 lines of text for each role, depending on the length of career. You can either include the accomplishment in the body of the text or if there are a number of them for one role, it may make sense to list them as a bullet-pointed list.

Personal Statement

The summary at the top of the CV is called your personal statement. It is where your job search elevator pitch needs to be particularly concise, so the brief and powerful format of an accomplishment sentence can cause a hiring manager to sit up and take notice. If the achievement is impressive enough, this can be a perfect way to begin your resume, right at the top of the document.

Key Takeaways

Most people will write and rewrite their CV achievements a few times and much of their effort will be spent quantifying and refining the appropriate accomplishments that will demonstrate that they are worthy of getting the job. To sum up, these are the steps they should be taking:

  • Structure your accomplishments with three parts – action verb, task and outcome
  • Quantify the achievements by using: timeframe, scale and range
  • Select which ones to include in the summary and work experience sections
  • Make sure that they are standout examples of excellence in your industry sector

Have a look at some examples of accomplishments in our CV examples section. We are sure that you will be able to find some inspiration to take your CV to the next level. Additionally, we have provided a fully comprehensive guide of how to write your CV in 2021.

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