How to show off your achievements on your CV – follow these three steps (and use STAR)
Writing your CV but stuck when it comes to listing your achievements? Here’s how to show them off in the best possible light.
Achievements are a key (and often missing) part of your CV and prove you have the skills and abilities the recruiter is looking for, and that you can deliver results for your new employer.
Can you solve their problems, impact their bottom line, increase efficiency, decrease costs, improve customer service?
Many CVs read more like job descriptions, with responsibilities and no achievements, therefore they do not tell the recruiter/employer how you will positively impact the company.
For example, you could have on your CV that you were “Responsible for the company website.” Sounds okay, right? Now consider how much stronger this sounds instead: “Rewrote company landing page resulting in a 15% increase in enquiries.”
Which of those two people would you rather interview or hire?
Understandably, many people worry about overselling themselves or omit achievements as it feels uncomfortable, as if they are boasting. By quantifying your achievements, they are proven, i.e. not just your opinion.
The fact this person’s action in the example above led to a 15% increase in enquiries proves they are good at what they do, there is no disputing it.
Three steps to presenting your achievements on your CV
So, how do you put your achievements on your CV? When I work with a client, we spend time discussing their roles and what was achieved and it’s surprising that through talking to someone else what people remember!
If you’re not hiring the services of a CV writer, this is how I suggest you work on your achievements, in three steps.
1) Gather your achievements
Think of and write down three to four achievements for each role on your CV. To help you, consider the following:
- Positive feedback received (look back at appraisals, customer feedback).
- Awards and commendations.
- Targets achieved.
- Things you have changed/implemented/actioned that have saved the company money/time/resources or that have increased profits/customers/sales/enquiries.
- How you have overcome a challenge.
- Speak with others (where appropriate).
Remember the achievements must be yours, not those achieved by the team or company generally.
Write as much as you want about each achievement, adding as much detail as you want as in the next stage you will then pull out the key information and refine the brainstorm into a strong, succinct bullet point. To help with your brainstorm, you can use the STAR technique:
Here’s an example of an achievement brainstorm using the STAR technique.
As a senior customer service manager, our latest feedback poll showed customer satisfaction had dropped significantly.
At our monthly senior management meeting, I was asked to investigate the causes of the drop and what could be done to bring the levels up.
I collected all the data and customer comments on why they were dissatisfied, I then reviewed with my customer service team leaders and asked for their input.
I devised ways of improving on these areas, for example, more regular product training of customer service staff; reviewing customer feedback more regularly to ensure issues resolved quicker.
Within a month, customer service had increased by 20%.
Having a result with figures/stats/percentages is great, but many roles mean achievements aren’t measurable, so what can you do?
Consider things such as the number in your team, number recruited, how you developed a client relationship, contracts renewed, specific projects (objective, results), feedback, how often you do a task, have you saved time, streamlined a procedure, negotiated a discount, presented to an audience of xx, avoided fines, kept up to date records, met audit requirements?
3) Refine your achievements
You need to convert your brainstorm into one to two succinct sentences that really sell you; ensure the achievements or parts of the achievement are relevant to the role you’re applying to.
- Lead with the result of achievement which will grab the reader’s attention (the Result in STAR), then follow with how you did it (Situation, Task, Action).
- Start with a positive action verb e.g. increased, implemented, developed, improved, won, spearheaded, accelerated, oversaw, established, collaborated, secured, attained, delivered, examined, devised, directed, identified, supported, reorganised, investigated, upgraded, negotiated.
So, for the example above, the refined achievement would be:
Increased customer satisfaction by 20% in a month, by analysing customer feedback, seeking input from the team, and implementing new measures such as more regular training.
Keep a ‘base’ CV on your laptop
I suggest keeping a ‘base’ CV on your computer, and tailoring it for each role so you always return to the original CV. Have all your brainstormed achievements in a document, then you can select and refine the ones relevant to each application.
When you are in your next role, update this document and your base CV regularly, so when you next need it, you don’t need to spend lots of time remembering what you have done with all the details.
Love help writing a CV recruiters and employers will love? You can hire Laura Harmsworth to write your CV for you. Or take her guided online course to complete it yourself – with Laura’s expert help.