Identify Your Achievements for CV & Interview

Displaying your achievements on your CV is now a necessity set yourself apart and put your CV to the top of the pile, and bag yourself a job.

As Brits, we are traditionally a modest nation when it comes to discussing our job achievements. In today’s competitive job market however, the need to move beyond just listing out duties and competencies is becoming all too clear.

Michelle Bailey, career coach, says:

“When I ask the (bright, successful) clients who I coach around career change about their job achievements at least half of them start off by saying they don’t have key achievements because they didn’t make their first £1m by 25 or run a marathon last year. Mention achievements and most of us think about what others would find impressive and decide we don’t measure up.”

A shift towards detailing key achievements on a cv and at interview stage is now apparent. Our attitudes to discussing these CV achievements examples must change.  So, how do you go about reflecting this on your cv and in an interview?

What achievements should you put on a cv?

In short only add job achievements that really matter to you. One way to unearth key achievements on a CV is to think about what you feel proud of. The other is to think about when you’ve felt challenged.

Top tip: Ask yourself, what have you done that put you outside your comfort zone; that stretched you to do something you weren’t sure you could do? This can kick start your list of achievements for a CV.

Remember one person’s key job achievement might be someone else’s business as usual. So, it’s good to:

a) think what’s personal to you.

b) don’t think that an achievement must be wildly impressive to others.

How do you identify achievements for a CV?

  1. Think about all your jobs to date: including the early part time ones, and list your job achievements in all of them. Take yourself back to how you felt before you did something. All too often, once they’ve done something people forget how much of a stretch it was and then move on to the next thing without acknowledging themselves.
  1. Dig out past job reviews or appraisals: look at the sort of objectives you had and what your managers acknowledged you for achieving. Top Tip: Create a ‘warm and fuzzies’ folder in your email to file these nuggets of feedback away as they come in.
  1. Speak to ex-colleagues (if you’re in touch with them): ask them what they think your work achievements are – they’ll often remember things you’ve long since forgotten. In return, you can offer to do the same for them.
  1. Think about “sub-achievements”: you might have delivered a big project, which is an clear achievement, but were smaller achievements that were part of this? Maybe along the way you helped a team member to improve their performance or there was a meeting where you won over that picky senior person with a fantastically well-argued case.
How to identify key achievements on your CV

Image: Adobe Stock

How to include achievements in a CV?

It’s time to start at the end. Sit down and make a list of all the achievements at work you can think of – no achievement is too small! Then go back through your list and ask yourself ‘so what’? The structure of an achievement should contain a skill that you used, an activity that you carried out and a quantifiable business result or benefit. You’re aiming to get the recruiter or HR team to look at these CV achievement examples and sit up and go ‘wow – I need this candidate in the business’.

Top tip: Don’t feel the need to write a long description of your job achievements, the colour can be added at interview stage. Such achievements are a teaser to get your foot in the door. Also, a word of caution: ensure that you can back up your list of achievements for your CV, when talking through them at interview – or that your reference, if asked, can.

Find out more about how recruiters spot potential: How recruiters spot potential – and how to show you have it

Examples of professional achievements

    • “I introduced a successful forum for the team to air challenges, grievances as well as achievements, leading to better internal communication and improved staff retention”
    • “Created a more efficient back up and disaster recovery system. Produced over 150 recoveries for our clients, retrieving lost data entirely within an average of an hour and a half”
    • “Won an industry award for creative execution of a campaign”
    • “Received internal award for dedication to customer service two months running, beating two hundred of my fellow employees”
    • “Completed new competency training for public cloud system, generating five new leads for the business”

How to mention responsibilities?

This is more of the ‘bread and butter’ section of how to make your CV standout. What are your current responsibilities that show you can do the job you are applying for? Include your day to day tasks, individuals or teams you manage, and any skilled competencies that you carry out. Give details of the job that you are already doing, can help the recruiter frame your achievements and give them context. You can also build previous responsibilities that are relevant to the role into your employment history section.

How to demonstrate achievements in an interview?

This is the time to show off. Following a stellar personal statement and pulling out all your key achievements in your CV, you will be fully researched and ready to shine at interview stage. Make sure you have identified your go to examples that you can pull out to showcase your key job achievements. Be prepared to go into detail on these, as the interviewer will want to get a full understanding of what was achieved. What were the timelines like? What were the biggest barriers you overcame? Was it really you or were you part of a wider team? Were there any teething problems? Etc. These are questions that are likely to come up.

Some good introductory language to weaving these key achievements into your interview include:

    • “I’m really proud of this example…”
    • “With my team we were able to overcome this challenge…”
    • “I oversaw the delivery of this particular project …”
    • “Some of the feedback from the business was…”
    • “From this example I was able to change my approach next time…”
    •  “We wanted to provide clear KPIs…”

Final Thoughts

Making sure your key achievements in your CV and at interview shine, is vital to catching the eye of a recruiter. They allow you to give them a flavour of what you are all about and how you strive for success everything “dividends will pay off.

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