When it comes to writing your CV, the hardest part is often getting started and actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be).
A CV is essentially your shop window to promote yourself and, like any shop window, it has to be attractive, neatly presented, and contain something of interest to grab the attention of passers-by.
Today, we're going to focus on achievements - let's run down exactly what achievements to include on your CV to make it shop-window ready.
How to Include Achievements on Your CV
A good CV should cover approximately two pages of A4, providing enough information about you, your skills and your achievements without going into unnecessary detail. Space is valuable and extremely limited, so make sure the whole document is solid gold from start to finish.
Be sure to include your recent job history, but don't just mention the duties and responsibilities of each job - really hone in and focus on the results you achieved while you were there.
If you managed a team of ten, go on to mention the fact that your team regularly surpassed their targets under your direction. If you were in charge of sales, include how much revenue was generated as a result of your hard work.
Remember, don't undersell yourself – you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Merely scratching the surface can do you and your skills a serious disservice, and this could be the difference between a callback and a courtesy email.
The Wow Factor
In addition to your career timeline and work history, it's important to include the various milestones you've achieved along the way. For job-specific accomplishments, this can be woven into your summary of the relevant job role; however, you may want to include these points in a separate box-out on your CV.
Opting to include achievements on a CV as a stand-alone section is a great way to highlight them to your potential employer, as well as emphasising their importance. This is your 'wow factor' space, reserved for the biggest achievements, ensuring they won't go unnoticed even by the busiest of skim-readers.
It's also a great opportunity to include achievements outside of your career roles, such as work experience, supplementary qualifications and notable feats that transfer well. If you have a relevant accomplishment that falls outside of your linear job history, this is the space to mention it.
Stay on Target
Speaking of transferable skills, that leads us nicely to the topic of relevance. Keeping your list of accomplishments applicable is extremely important and can highlight your suitability for the job at a glance.
While it may have been a glorious achievement at the time, that '2nd Place' badge from the junior school sports day sack race probably isn't that relevant when you're applying for a post-grad science job.
Similarly, a ten-man killstreak on Call of Duty may earn you points with the lads down the pub, but it's unlikely to impress your interviewer in terms of employability and suitability for a role.
Try to keep your CV achievements professional, recent, and relevant to the role in question. While additional experience outside of the stated job criteria can be helpful at times, it can also be surplus to requirements.
Read the job description and the person specification carefully, and aim to really tailor your CV to the role you're applying for. Don't distract your potential employer with excess information; grab their attention by checking the boxes you know they are looking to tick.
Paint by Numbers
A good CV should paint a vivid picture of the individual as a worker and what they can bring to the table. One of the easiest ways to make your value abundantly clear is to speak in a language most decision-makers will understand: numbers.
Quantifiable figures and statistics are a clear, concise way to illustrate the impact you had on a given outcome. As long as you're being truthful, they can also serve as verifiable evidence to back up your claim.
If you increased company productivity, don't be afraid to crow about just how much you did so. After all, 'My continued efforts increased team-wide productivity by 20%' sounds far more impressive than simply stating 'I increased productivity'.
This rule isn't reserved for percentages - it can also be used to great effect when applied to monetary figures. If your consultancy work saved your client thousands of pounds, be sure to mention just how much you saved them.
The same goes for sales: if you made X sales last month / quarter / year, include the number and don't be afraid to contextualise it. If your salary was £30k and you brought in £300k, simply stating that your sales paid for your salary ten times over can be an attractive point well made.
By now, you should have a good overall idea of what achievements to include on a CV and how to include them effectively. If you need any further CV advice, the following links may be of use to you:
CV Checklist 10 Common CV Mistakes
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