Impressive resume achievements are key to a successful job application.
Companies are looking for employees who can work hard, accomplish goals, and work well with a team. As a job-seeker, the best way for you to demonstrate that you meet these requirements is by emphasizing your achievements on your resume. Instead of relying on a simple list of resume skills, you can use achievements to show how you have used your skills to get results. Your accomplishments in previous roles show what you can do for your next company.
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Your resume achievements can make or break an application, so it’s important to get them right. With this guide, you’ll be sure to find the right achievements to put on your resume.
When you write the Work History section in your resume, it isn’t enough to copy and paste the job description for each role and call it a day. Your responsibilities in each role may seem important to you, but potential employers are far more interested in specific accomplishments.
A boring laundry list of duties won’t impress anyone.
Instead, your resume should show how you met goals, exceeded expectations, and achieved important milestones. Your resume has to show how you can add value to a company, not just how you can do the bare minimum. Emphasizing your skills and accomplishments is crucial to capturing the attention of employers.
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Resume achievements are the best way to sell yourself as a great candidate for a job. They show what you have done for past companies, and what you can do for the next one.
The placement of your resume achievements is almost as important as their quality. Whether included with a job description or listed in a distinct section, the location of an achievement can change its effectiveness. As you write your resume achievements, consider:
For most job-seekers, the Work History section is the largest and most important part of the resume. And in all likelihood, most of the accomplishments in your resume will be drawn from past jobs. As such, many of your resume achievements will be in the Work History section.
As you describe each job in your Work History, emphasize examples of your skills and accomplishments in each role. Your resume will be most effective when you can showcase your relevant achievements in each role.
Some job-seekers even create a subheading in each job description to keep the achievements from that job in one place.
To do this, you can create a heading inside the job description with a title like “Key Achievements” or “Select Accomplishments”. Below it, you can list your most impressive accomplishments.
Your Work History doesn’t have to be the only place you keep your achievements. As long as an achievement is relevant, impressive, and timely, you can fit it on to your resume.
If you’re a student or recent graduate, for example, you may not have much work experience to draw from. If this is the case, try to think of achievements from your time in school. Throughout your academic career you may have generated accomplishments in projects you worked on, clubs you belonged to, and research you were involved in. These resume achievements will fit right into your Education section.
Achievements should fit in any part of your resume. If there are some skills and accomplishments examples that fit into your Volunteering Experience section or your Skills section, list them there.
You can also include a brief selection of accomplishments right at the beginning of your resume in your Summary section. Your Summary section should be brief, but there should be enough room for a few key achievements. If you have some skills and accomplishments examples for your resume that are so impressive you want them right at the top, you can include them in your Summary section.
Some job-seekers choose to include a distinct Achievements section in their resume. This is a great way to call attention to your best and most relevant accomplishments, but it can take up a lot of space.
If you decide to include a separate Achievements section, your achievements must be good enough to justify it. Make sure your accomplishments are both impressive and relevant to the role you’re applying to. You don’t want to draw a potential employer’s eye to irrelevant achievements.
Picking the right achievements and describing them effectively are key parts of creating a successful resume. For great resume achievements, follow these 5 steps:
For each job in your Work History section, think of all the things you accomplished. Don’t worry about relevance for now. Just focus on collecting all of your achievements in that role. Any achievement that shows skill, leadership, creativity, and hard work is worth writing down.
Once this is done, you will have a long list of achievements to choose from. The best and most relevant ones will be the ones that make it to your final resume.
To help with brainstorming, consider these prompts:
You should always customize all aspects of your resume for each new application, and your achievements are no exception. Once you have a long list of accomplishments to choose from, compare your achievements to the needs of the company you’re applying to. Only include the best, most relevant accomplishments in your application.
To decide which achievements are relevant, study the job posting. The company will have specific needs, and the better you can target those needs the better your resume will be. If the job posting uses specific phrases, or mentions specific tools or skills, include the words directly in the relevant achievement. This will help your resume get noticed, and show that you not only have the skills they’re looking for, but have used them to accomplish great things.
You can also look online for more information about the company. Their website and social media accounts can all offer insight into their values, their mission, and what kind of a candidate they are looking for.
With this information, you will be able to carefully curate your accomplishments so that you can showcase the best ones.
The order of your achievements matters too. Make sure the most relevant and most important achievements are listed first. Once you have a list of resume achievements that suit your desired role, decide which ones are most relevant to the position and place those ones at the top.
This way, they will be prominently featured and well-positioned to catch the eye of a recruiter. Even if you aren’t using a distinct “Key Achievements” heading, you can make sure your achievements are easy to find by placing them first.
(This is true for all aspects of your resume: the most important parts should come first.)
Try to choose achievements that can be measured, and write about them using numbers.
The achievements that employers care about can usually be quantified. Many business strategies use data to set priorities, and employers keep on top of key metrics and performance indicators. They are sure to be impressed if you can demonstrate numerically how you add value to a company.
Your achievements could be in the form of customer success scores, performance ratings, sales revenue, client retention, and more. Any number that shows your competence in a relevant skill could look good on your resume. And if you aren’t keeping track of your accomplishments like this, it’s time to start!
Quantifying your skills and accomplishments for your resume may seem challenging, but there are a few ways you can approach your work experience that will make it easy. Try to think about your achievements in terms of scale, frequency, and range:
If the number is not exact, feel free to give a range instead. For example, you can say:
“Spearheaded marketing strategy pivot, saving the company $ 14, 000 -$ 20, 000 annually.”
Use active, action-oriented language to describe your skills and accomplishments.
The achievements you put on your resume can’t just be impressive—they have to be well-written, too. A great achievement won’t be successful if you can’t describe it well. Use action words as much as possible when you write about your skills and accomplishments.
Powerful, leadership-focused words will give your achievements an important boost. Your language should portray you as proactive and effective. Effective action words may include:
One helpful method of writing achievements that stand out is using the Problem-Action-Results formula. This simple formula is an easy way to make sure you frame your accomplishments in an effective way.
Every accomplishment results from a problem that you encountered. You can describe each achievement by thinking about what the problem was and how you solved it.
For example, consider this achievement to get a better understanding of this formula:
“Optimized website speed by refactoring the code; improved website loading speed.”
Problem? The website took too long to load.
Action? I improved the existing code.
Results? Website loading speed improved.
To use this formula in your resume achievements, describe a problem, describe the action you took to solve it, and describe the outcome of your actions. Thinking about tasks in this way can help you realize what your role in the accomplishment was and how it added value to the company.
Resume achievements will be different depending on your profession. To make sure you pick the right ones for your field, consider these examples:
Awards are a type of achievement, but they may not fit in with the rest of your achievements. Instead, there are two main ways of listing awards in your resume: listing them within the relevant job description, or listing them in a separate section.
If you have received several professional awards that you’d like to showcase, you may want to draw attention to them in your resume. If you slot them in with the other bullet points throughout your work experience, they could be skipped over or ignored.
If this is the case, you may want to create a separate Awards section. Create a distinct section in your resume with a heading like “Awards”.
If you use an Awards section:
If you don’t need to draw specific attention to your awards, you can also include them in your work history section. Each award can be displayed with the job you received it for. You may want to add a subsection such as "Accomplishments" or "Key achievements," or simply add the awards as bullet points in the list.
Your achievements will be different depending on your industry, your job, and your resume template. If you’re having trouble getting started writing resume achievements, you may be able to draw some inspiration from these examples:
Product Manager Universal Administration Tools
Marketing Manager Bemis Company, Inc.
Senior Associate Tetra Tech
Master of Business Administration Columbia University
Bachelor of Science Columbia University
Ambitious sales leader who incorporates an incredible passion for technology, products, and services with an enthusiastic management style, consultative selling skills, and tenacity in order to achieve outstanding sales results.
Vice President Sales Marketing, Business Development Nebula Agency Group
Director, Business Development COCMP
Director of Marketing, Business Development Hand Inc
Master of Business Administration University of Texas
To turn job duties into accomplishments, try to summarize the impact you made at work. Once you know what impact you had it is easy to turn that into accomplishments.
You can list your achievements in an “Achievements” section, in your resume summary/objective or put your accomplishments within the work experience section.
You can put academic achievements under a specific academic project section or list them within your education section.
Community Success Manager & CV Writing Expert
Ben is a writer, customer success manager and CV writing expert with over 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their best careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume summary and the power of coffee.
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