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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article21 March 2018European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion2 min read

How to write an achievements-focused CV

Don’t allow your CV to become a boring list of responsibilities and duties. Highlight your achievements and show recruiters how you can get results.

How to write an achievements-focused CV

If you’re hoping your CV will appeal to recruiters and help you compete with more experienced applicants, then achievements – no matter how big or small – need to be a key part of it.

What counts as an achievement?

What are you most proud of in your working life? You don’t have to have made a million – it could be as simple as overcoming a personal challenge to learn something new, or helping your employer to cut costs in an innovative way. 

Everyone achieves small successes in their working life. If you’re not sure what to include, it might help to speak to ex-colleagues, or to read back through appraisals. Your achievements don’t have to be out of the ordinary; they just need to show that you have confidence, that you understand the ways in which your work can have an impact on a business, and that you are focused on getting results.

Of course, you will still list roles and responsibilities on your CV, but focusing on achievements simply means going one step further. By adding in successes for every role, you can show that you weren’t only fulfilling a role and undertaking tasks – you took on responsibilities, did the tasks well, and created positive consequences that helped others.

And you don’t have to have generated the work yourself – being asked to take on a project, accepting it willingly, completing it on time, and getting – or surpassing – the expected results definitely counts as a success.

Think about what an employer might want from a new employee. By showing them what you achieved for others, you’re showing that you have the potential to achieve great things for them, too.

Use data

The best way to present an achievement on a CV is to try and quantify it in some way. Use facts, figures and data to explain what you did and, if possible, the changes you made. For example, you might explain how you reduced costs, increased sales, or made a process more efficient.

Think of each achievement as a short story. Introduce the project or task, and show the skills that you used and the concrete actions you took. Then, the important part: explain what benefits were achieved for the company as a result of your actions. And mention what you learned from the experience; employers will want to see that you have developed professionally too.

It is perfectly acceptable to draw out your achievements to create a separate “highlights” section at the top of your resume. This section can also include awards won, qualifications gained, and promotions.

Finally, remember that your CV is there to open doors, so there’s no need to go into too much detail – you can do that in the interview. Tailor your CV for each application, make it interesting and intriguing, and employers will be much more likely to invite you in to tell them more.

Looking for some more advice on CV tailoring? Check out our 5 tips for streamlining your CV. And remember that no CV is complete without a great cover letter!


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