Do you want to stand out and impress any potential employer?
So what better way to do it than letting them know how amazingly talented and full of accomplishments you are?
Sounds great, but it’s important to know that there is a fine line between bragging about your achievements and simply listing them to make others aware.
In this article, we will show you what can be considered as an achievement, which awards are appropriate, and generally how to show yourself in the best possible light.
And if you’re eager to see our techniques in action, check out these resume examples and see how professionals like you have implemented their awards and accomplishments without being too braggy about it!
Why list awards and achievements on your resume?
To make a long-lasting impression and stand out from the rest of the candidates. A lot of them forget to list accomplishments, both personal and professional.
So if you take the time to show the achievements you’re proud of, you’re already one step ahead. Listing your jobs will show what kind of work you did, but showcasing awards will prove how good you were at it.
For example, Derreck here put his key achievements in the very beginning of his engineering resume because he knows his recruiters will be impressed by numbers and examples.
Most jobs have the same requirements and responsibilities, so in a pile of candidates, the information on the resumes will be relatively the same.
However, accomplishments are individual and can only work to your benefit in this extremely competitive job market.
This works particularly well with freshly graduated candidates that still don’t have a lot of fieldwork experience. So, scholarships and awards are perfect to show your dedication and exceptional talents.
With that being said, be careful not to make the awards section the focal point of your resume. You don’t want to look like you’re bragging.
There is a subtle difference, and we will help you find it, so read on!
Tip - Employers often cross-reference awards, so don’t even think about lying on your resume about things you’ve done!
What is not considered an accomplishment?
Doing your work is not an accomplishment. Showing up on time, being friendly, not taking too many smoke breaks, graduating from high school or college are not accomplishments.
In short, everything that is not measured by an organization resulting in an award, honorable mention, certificate, or scholarship.
Yes, these are all great qualities and habits, but it’s not anything extraordinary or directly connected to the work position you want to apply for.
Listing things like this in your resume as accomplishments will show the recruiters that you expect to be rewarded for doing your everyday responsibilities.
What kind of awards and achievements should you mention on your resume?
We’ve listed a lot of things that would not be suitable, and by now, you’re probably wondering: “What can I put for awards on a resume?”
Go back in time and think about all the personal, educational, and professional milestones in your life. These can include but are not limited to high GPA, scholarships, volunteer awards, successful projects in university or your previous jobs, promotions, related internships, and much more.
You can put any type of certification, especially if it’s industry-related. If you went from a regular sales trainee to a manager, that’s definitely an achievement. If you graduated from university with academic honors while working full-time, that’s something you want to brag about.
Include significant awards only
By significant, we mean awards that are truly meaningful. Middle school and kindergarten accomplishments obviously will not mean much in a professional environment. Participation awards that are given to everyone will not add value to your resume and background.
Keep it relevant and ask yourself - How will this achievement aid my case?
Sports achievements on a resume
As we mentioned previously, the most important rule is to include awards relevant to your dream career. Meaning that sports awards are only needed if you’re applying for a sports position.
Still, it could also be useful to show commitment. For example, if you were a full-time student-athlete. Juggling those great responsibilities and having good grades is an outstanding achievement that you shouldn’t skip.
Military awards on a resume
Military experience can transfer into many fields, so it’s always a good idea to include it. It will show skills such as discipline, leadership, the ability to work well in a team, being resourceful, reliable, and much more.
But what about military awards?
Listing your responsibilities and previous positions will tell the recruiters about your experience, but the awards will prove it. Still, it’s essential not to get carried away and only go with 2 or 3 relevant ones, so it doesn’t look like a brag or take up too much space.
High school awards and college awards
With the risk of repeating ourselves, yes, you should include them, but only if it makes sense to do so. If you’re applying for an internship or your first job, your high school and college awards are probably the only ones you have.
In a resume, you should show yourself in the best possible light for your dream position. So if you have no work experience or internships, try to fill your resume with relevant information from your high school and/or college years.
Still, try to keep it as relevant as possible; theater background will not help much if you’re applying for a tech job, unless you were the kid who did the lighting effects.
However, if you’re a 20 something adult or a seasoned professional, listing high school achievements and college awards is a big no. This looks highly unprofessional, and there is a big chance your resume will get rejected right away.
Professional awards on a resume
Professional achievements are almost obligatory in your resume, especially if they are tightly connected to your dream position.
It’s incredibly effective, especially with more creative positions. For example, if you have a Creative Writing award, it will go amazingly with your application for a Content Writer.
Awards like this will act as a quick reference for your professional ability, so we recommend you always include them and stand out from the rest.
To bring things visually, take a look at this successful animator resume example and see how the awards are placed.
This was created through our efficient resume builder that helped people get hired at companies like Spotify, Tesla, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and many more!
If you’re not sure where to start, browse through some resume templates and see which one clicks!
How and where to list accomplishments on a resume
The structure of a resume is critical because it needs to be created to grab the attention in milliseconds. Awards are great, but they should not be the centerpiece.
Enough small talk, let’s see where to put awards on resume and how to do it the right way!
Talk about awards that demonstrate valuable soft skills
Your resume should be filled with useful information that the recruiters are looking for. The awards listed have to accomplish just that - either to show excellence in a particular field or to emphasize your fantastic set of soft skills.
The way you structure a resume also shows a lot about you as a person. It will let the hiring managers know where your priorities are and the accomplishments you are most proud of.
Quantify your accomplishments - avoid vagueness and self-serving statements
Don’t just describe how you won a Best Blueberry Pie award; just show it. It’s good to be confident, but it’s vital not to cross the line between confidence and cockiness.
You have a limited number of words on your resume, so don’t waste them talking about things you can easily demonstrate.
Include award title, recognition level, date, and purpose
When you get to listing your accomplishments, fit as much info as possible. The title, how it’s recognized globally, the date of when it was issued, and the purpose of the event/ certification/ award.
If possible, provide a reference number or any other way the recruiters can check the validity of this award.
Explain the achievement's impact and avoid accomplishments that have nothing to do with your goals and current search
In one sentence, try to synthesize why this particular milestone and achievement is so important to your career and you as a person. It could be something that taught you a life lesson you will remember forever, or maybe it made you get out of your comfort zone and discover a new passion.
Forget about anything that is distanced from your current professional goals and the position you’re applying for.
What can you substitute the awards resume section with (with examples)?
This section of the resume should be filled with things you are proud of, so even if you don’t have any official awards, don’t worry about it. You can still put so much in here!
What better way to demonstrate how perfect you are for a specific position than to be praised and recommended by an authority figure? Testimonials are the ideal alternative to bragging - you get to show how amazing you are without saying a single word!
We recommend that you put testimonials related to specific projects or work experiences. A note from your high-school English teacher saying, “He was a cool kid,” unfortunately, doesn’t do much.
Publications are very impressive and can put any applicant in a good light in front of the hiring managers.
It’s important to format them correctly. Use a bullet list and include the title of your publication, the place where it’s published - journal, magazine, website; and finally, the year when it was published.
Just like everything else we’ve listed, remember to list publications that will aid you in your job application, not the opposite.
Just like publications, speaking engagements demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about a certain field or topic, and you even have the ability to communicate it verbally to a crowd! What’s more impressive than that?
And again, you have to present them properly. Put the title of your engagement, the date, the venue where it was presented, a written transcription (if any), and lastly, the audience turnout.
Suppose you have any testimonials about a certain speaking engagement from someone that was present, even better! Put them together.
Hobbies and interests on a resume can be very tricky. Many recruiters are not huge fans of candidates sharing personal information in a professional environment.
However, if they happen to be, you will certainly feel it in the way the job offer is written. If the tone of voice is friendly and business casual, it’s safe to say that you can share a bit more about yourself.
If the job offer feels very rigid, dry, and straight to the point, then it’s most likely not the best idea in the world to do so.
As we always recommend, build your resume specifically for the company, don’t use the same template everywhere. Customize it to present yourself in the best possible light. And if that includes writing about your hobbies, then go ahead!
See how Mitchell cleverly included his hobbies and priorities in his unique and fun Substitute Teacher resume.
We are firm believers that volunteering can be just as important as work experience. Most of the time, the only thing that separates the two is money.
Volunteers give so much of their free time, passionately supporting projects and ideas they love. The fact that a person can be so dedicated without any monetary compensation in return can speak volumes.
It’s also beneficial for young people applying for their first job or who don’t have any related working experience.
The best way to include your volunteering past is to describe it the same way as previous job positions. Start with the period, where it took place, your primary responsibilities, and most of all, point out how it’s related to your profession.
This graphic designer resume is a clear example of an applicant who completely substituted the awards and achievements sections with volunteering experience because he found it more relevant to the position he’s aiming for.
Licenses, certifications, and projects you've completed
In our opinion, this should be included as a separate section, even if you have awards and accomplishments to put in the same section.
Sometimes, certifications can even act as a resume header to grab the attention of your employer right off the bat! There are many ways you can use them, and here we recommend that you just follow your resume design and see where they will fit best.
A universal rule of thumb, however, is to always include the serial number or reference of the certificate so recruiters can easily check it.
Here are some creative examples of how people have included their certifications in the resume:
In this technical writer’s resume, Marlyn separated her certifications and licenses, providing a reference for both sections.
- Research the company and find out its core values and beliefs. It will set the tone for the way you will write your resume.
- Just as any information, awards, and accomplishments can be handy only if appropriately presented and relevant to the job position.
- Always provide references and invite them to ask more about your experiences in the cover letter.
- Keep it short and straightforward.
- Read it out loud to make sure it doesn’t sound arrogant and off-putting.
- Have confidence in your achievements, and don’t be afraid to show them when needed!
How do you feel about listing your awards and accomplishments on a resume? Is there a situation when it could be damaging?
Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful!