CV Breakdown - Writing up Your Past Work Experience - Part 3 - Achievements
In part three of our how to write your work experience series we're looking at your achievements and successes. Knowing the difference between the two is going to help you clearly define them to a prospective recruiter.
A success story story usually relates to completion of a specific goal or task, for example, you aimed for 50 sales in one week. An achievement on the other hand is the culmination of a longer term goal, you can have dozens of individual success stories on your journey to an achievement.
Think of it along the lines of building your own house; the day you finish and move in is the substantial achievement whereas the successes along the way are wiring the electrics correctly, making sure the walls are sturdy or choosing the perfect decoration.
Picking your best achievements
As we've mentioned above, focus on the what you've achieved long term. Think of those instances where you've had to work hard towards a valuable goal. Particularly where to achieve it you've had to develop multiple new skills along the way and pick those achievements you're most proud of.
You don't have to limit yourself to just professional achievements too. If you've got some good examples of achievements from your personal life these can often complement your work achievements well. Just remember to make sure they're relevant to the skills of the job you're applying for and you're not just filling for the sake of it.
Present your achievements by identifying a challenge you were given, how you overcame it and what the impact was on you and the organisation you worked at.
Picking your best success stories
You can relate these back to some of your achievements above, each one of your best achievements will be made up of a number of success stories. Again, we can't stress this enough with just about every aspect of CV writing; make sure you always keep your successes relevant to the job you're applying for.
Keep the job description to hand so you can constantly refer back to it as you write your CV. It also helps to have done your research on an organisation before writing your CV, what are their core values and can you find some success stories from your own life that match up with them?
If you're struggling to think of quantifiable success though, you can go the more general route, focus on your core professional strengths and write about how they enable you to be successful each day.
How you should write it?
The real trick is to then sell your achievements to a recruiter without sounding like you're bragging. Don't just imply that you were amazing all on your own, highlight how you were able to learn from others and collaboratively achieve goals.
By also centring your achievements around how you added value, rather than them just being about how well you performed, you show a consideration of your actions having consequences and show yourself to be an asset.
As with your responsibilities, try to quantify your achievements and successes, the more specific you can be and the more examples you can add the easier it will be for an employer to gauge your capabilities.
How long should this section be?
Much like other sections of your CV, you're limited for space. Brevity is your best friend in all aspects of CV writing. Don't list every achievement you can think of, usually one major achievement alongside 2 to 4 successes in each role is enough to get your point across clearly.
Don't be afraid to trust your gut to a certain extent too, if something feels too long or too short it can often seem obvious on re-reading. Always read your CV through several times before sending off to an employer to catch mistakes and perfect your language.