There are numerous ways to stand out in front of other applicants.
And if we need to point just one of them as the ultimate key to making a strong impression - it’s highlighting your major achievements on your CV.
In fact, you could build your whole CV around your achievements.
But what if you’re still at university or have graduated just recently? Can you use this approach?
Absolutely! And in this article, we’ll see exactly how this could be done.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the first question - why you need to think about achievements and how they link to your CV.
Why highlighting achievements on your CV matters?
In a sea full of candidates, grabbing (and keeping!) the recruiter’s attention is crucial for success.
And surely a great way to do this is by using an eye-catching CV template with a professional touch.
But if we go beyond the physical aspect, and even beyond the format of your CV, we would arrive at destination ‘demonstrating the value you bring through your past accomplishments’ fairly quickly.
The next train leaves soon, so hop on! First stop: understanding how achievements work in your favour.
Putting the spotlight on your quantifiable impact
Let’s look at the competition you have when applying for just about any job.
Most candidates would be people who do their jobs well. Or at least relatively well.
But do they make an impact?
We don’t know. However, we can say for sure that a large portion of these people don’t know how to show the impact they make.
This is why recruiters value applicants like you. Applicants who know how to prove the value they bring.
So don’t focus on just your day-to-day responsibilities. Show something deeper.
Prove you’re a top match by sharing more about your work’s measurable impact.
Number of people you trained? Percentage increase in monthly sales? It’s entirely dependent on your preference and your job history.
Validating your skills
Listing skills you haven’t actually mastered on your CV is not uncommon.
Recruiters are well aware of this. And that’s exactly why they trust candidates who put their skills in context.
And while listing the skills you find in the job advert is important for passing ATS (not sure what ATS are? Check out this article where we uncover what they are and how they can be tricked!), it’s far better to show what these skills have helped you achieve.
Furthermore, this approach will help you build credibility in your application.
So next time you think of plainly adding ‘presentation skills’ to your CV, don’t!
Rather, share the effect your presentation skills have had on your team’s performance.
And don’t worry if you’re not sure how this could be done. We’ll show you!
How to present achievements on your CV + 3 examples
Generally speaking, it wouldn’t be possible to pick just one correct way to fit your achievements on your CV.
Furthermore, there is no exact number of achievements you should be aiming for, either.
That’s why in this part, we’re going to share some examples from real Enhancv users’ CVs.
The point would be to illustrate several top-notch ways to share your achievements with recruiters while still keeping all other possibilities to do this in mind.
Example #1: Highlighting your achievements in your CV summary
The summary section, also called the introduction section, is the first thing potential employers will see when looking at your application.
It consists of 3-5 sentences at maximum, aiming to serve as a hook - and grab the reader’s attention.
A simple formula to use when drafting your CV summary would be: position, years of experience, 2-3 most relevant skills, top achievement, and something you’re working towards.
Here are two examples, a good and a bad one:
Not the best ‘hook’, right? Let’s see how this could be improved:
This Enhancv user has done a great job at highlighting their biggest achievement - reducing costs by 48% YoY - as part of their CV summary.
But what should you do if you have more achievements to share and the CV summary is simply not enough?
Well, you could go for option #2: the experience section.
Example #2: Showcasing your achievements in the experience section
Many people think of the experience section as a place to list all your daily tasks.
That’s why most of them fail at getting their dream jobs.
If you ask us, the experience section should be seen as a place where you can show the value you bring. The impact you are able to make.
So, rather than just listing numerous tasks mindlessly, think about the responsibilities you had that really made a difference in your previous organisation.
If we take the business analyst example above, it’d be pointless to simply state ‘I analysed business data’.
Firstly, that’s obvious - a business analyst analyses business data.
Secondly, it doesn’t give any value whatsoever.
Let’s see some other examples of what you shouldn’t put in your experience section:
- •Responsible for collecting business data
- •Relied on MySQL to build databases
- •Communicated with clients
- •Managed a team of 5
See? It doesn’t really say much about this person’s qualities. Although they might have done all these things, the information they’ve chosen to share doesn’t really prove any of their skills.
Here’s how your achievements can help you get past this:
- •Analysed complex business data for 45 markets across 3 continents using MySQL
- •Forecasted growth in annual revenue with 93% accuracy
- •Led a team of 5 junior business analysts, guiding them in finding the best way to grow as individuals while bringing business value
Now that’s much better. We get a very good grasp of the top skills this applicant has while staying focused on the value they could bring to any potential organisation.
But that’s not all there is. Let’s see what the third way to show your achievements on your CV is.
Example #3: Adding a designated achievement section
Adding an achievement section to your CV works well for several reasons. It shows character and makes your CV more recognisable. It also provides recruiters with an additional opportunity to imagine what it would be like having you on the team.
Now, depending on the length of your CV, your achievement section could be either short and concise or more detailed.
Just remember - your achievements must be quantifiable. Add numbers and results when possible.
Let’s see some good and bad examples:
This university student could make a bit more effort into turning their achievements into actual key points in their CV, what do you think?
And if we think about how much time recruiters spend on a single application (hint: it’s 6 seconds)... we’ll quickly realise that all achievements must be made explicit to the reader.
A better way to demonstrate this would be:
See the difference?
It’s not really about the size or importance of your achievements. It’s about the things you choose to emphasise.
Expert point of view: How to sell yourself on a CV
Key takeaways: Landing an interview by adding achievements to your CV
Moving successfully through the screening stage of the selection process can be a tough one. Especially when you’re not confident that your application portrays you in the best light possible.
And the easiest way to boost your chances of standing out (apart from using a visually appealing CV template) is to talk about your achievements.
No matter whether you’re a recent graduate, an experienced professional with years of experience, or someone in-between - highlighting your main accomplishments will always work in your favour.
The choice of adding your achievements to your CV summary, using them in your experience section, or having a small bit of your CV devoted entirely to this is up to you.
The main point is that you shouldn’t be afraid of celebrating your victories and discussing them openly with the world.
And if you need some more tips on building an impressive CV that go beyond your achievements - check out this article!