Curriculum Vitae and Resume Accomplishments or Achievements

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Achievements for your CV or Resume

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Why Create Curriculum Vitae and Resume Accomplishments or Achievements?

Let us explain with a little logic.

When I bet on a horse, I rarely bet based on which tracks they have previously run. Rather, I bet based on where they have finished in the past – their form. So, why is it that Curriculum Vitae’s and Resume’s are usually no more than a shortened job description telling the reader what has been done rather than how good they were at it? You are a very successful person. Why hide the fact in the joyful hope that somehow the Curriculum Vitae reader will just know this – through telepathy perhaps? And, of course, the same thing applies to the interview itself. Your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements are also directly applicable to the interview.

Achievements are a key to your future success.  Your ability to communicate what you have done and what you can do will greatly influence any potential employer. Assigning numbers to each achievement is even more important and powerful. These will ensure that your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements are superior to most others.

Achievement example 1Remember, it is widely recognised that past behaviour and performance is a good indicator to future behaviour and performance. This is essential stuff for your CV and for interview. The person scanning your CV or resume will simply say in their mind, “They did that for their last employer, they can do the same for us.” They will not know this unless your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements are numerically based. 

The process for Curriculum Vitae and Resume Accomplishments or Achievements

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The process is as follows and once created can be used to quickly create a tailored CV or resume in minutes.

Step 1 – Write Down all Achievements and Accomplishments

Achievement example 2Write down all of your achievements at work. For your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements you should also include charity, hobby/sporting and personal achievements. You can go back as far as 10 years! We are looking for a wide spread, so do not just stay inside your current specialism. Think about cross-functional projects, where you have helped others out, where you have double-hatted whilst a replacement was found for a vacancy, and so on. We want a wide spread. It helps if you do not look at your current CV (except for dates to remind yourself about what you were doing). as this will pre-constrain your thinking. We don’t just want the accomplishments and achievements you are most proud of. That would be too subjective. We want a ‘bank of achievements’. Curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements might include, for example:

  • Profit generation and cost savings are an important elements for your achievements. All recruiting organisations want to know that you can work out the impact of what you do. You should always include these in your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements.
  • Coaching, presenting and training (however informal). You can calculate these are ‘people development days. For example, if you looked after 3 new workers to ‘show them the ropes’ each for 2 days, then that is 6 people days development. If you formally trained 10 people for a day five times in the year, that’s 50 people days development. It is even better if you know from what efficiency they were and what level they got to.
  • Space savings. Replaced a manual filing system with an electronic one – that a space saving measured in square feet or metres. Each square foot or metre has a price. Changed desk layout? Then you probably made it so more people can fit into the area, or so that the internal communication was much better. By how much?
  • Time savings. This is a massive area and can usually be represented by percentage efficiency gains or as direct cash savings. Combine this thinking with the following bullet. Use there where you can in your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements.
  • Change to a process or system. Why did you do it? Probably because it increased production (by how much?), made things more efficient (by how much?), or improved quality (less returns? What’s the value of that?).
  • Results in throughput v others doing the same role as averages. This is basically comparing yourself to a benchmark. It is very powerful! For example, “Handled on average 22 calls per hour with an average resolution of 92% compared to an average of 16 calls per hour, and a resolution of 76%.” If I wanted to, I could spin this out further and work out the cost of escalating calls versus handling them and put a cash saving for this.
  • Increases in satisfaction – staff or customers. Massive in today’s world. If you know what each percentage of satisfaction is worth, state it as an outcome. If you don’t, then a percentage is still great. This is a nice mixer for your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements. It shows customer-orientation.
  • Churn of staff. If you had a team of 10 staff, and none left in the year, that’s 100% retention. You could benchmark this too. 100% retention compared to the business average of 70%. Now lets get wacky but staying truthful. Research in the UK states that it costs £30,614 to replace a member of staff. therefore you saved over £90,000 in a single year through strategies to increase staff retention. This is a great curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements example. Are you starting to get this thinking? Let’s keep going.
  • Achievement example 4Development of staff. How many of your team got promoted in the business in a year? How does this compare to the average? For technical and financial candidates, make sure you have some of these softer curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements. You need to show balance.
  • Budgets controlled and savings in spending. This is fairly self-explanatory. If you did not spend all of your budget, state as a percentage or in real cash how much you saved.
  • Negotiated outcomes, changes to supplier processes. Again, a massive are. Where you negotiated (negotiation is a hot skill in any case) a saving or quality improvement, then how much. Be clever, if it is £30,000 per year, you can state it as £150,000 over a five-year period. Get the thinking? Curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements are about how you ‘spin’ the achievement. Never lie, just think about how it is best represented. Well, let’s keep going.
  • New markets, exploiting old markets with new offerings. If you led or were part of a team that led these expansion initiatives, then what is the projection for profit or turnover? there was a business case somewhere. If not, how successful was it in terms of market share (%), or turnover (£)?
  • Co-ordination of cross-functional groups. This can be with outside parties too. Why was this working group in existence? There must have been a desired outcome. If so, what was it? Get some numbers around it.
  • Leadership of working parties. As above.
  • Work delegated to you from a more senior manager. This is a direct cost saving. Calculate this as the percentage of their time saved. For example, if those delegated activities saved them 20% of their time and they earned (with bonus), then if this was £100,000 and you earned £40,000, it is a £60,000 difference. 20% of this is a direct £12,ooo saving to the business.
  • Double Hatting. This another example of a great example curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements. Let’s say someone left the business, and it took them 3 months to replace the person. If their salary for £40,000, 3 months of that is £10,000. That is a £10,000 saving through your efforts.
  • Process of system spread to others. Let’s say you changed a small process which saved you 20 minutes a day. Not much hey? But the other 9 people in your work area also adopted it. not that’s 200 minutes a day. And the Director liked it so much, that 5 other geographical units adopted it and they had the same number of people. that’s not 1,000 minutes a day. Actually, that’s 16.6 hours a day (let’s call it two days as it is always good to take a slightly lower figure). And the average salary of one of these people was £35,000 per annum. You just created £70K worth of additional time within the organisation! All from your 20 minutes saving from a small process. This is a perfect for curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements. It also shows lots of skills.
  • First to… This is when you were first to adopt a new process or system in the business. This shows that you welcome change. More importantly, what happened to it after you adopted it? How many staff ended up using it? What was the saving? These are great curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements.
  • Won an award? How many people could have won the award? More numbers – “Won the XYZ award for ABC within the business from a potential field of 600 staff”.
  • Risk prevention. If you did not prevent the risk, what were the financial consequences? If not financial, then what did it prevent? For example, “By creating a new quality audit for the production of XYZ, mitigated the potential risk ABC with possible loss of equipment to the value of £250,000.”
  • Everything is measurable! I had an American science lecturer (great University) ask me how he could apply this going from academia to commercial this a month ago. It’s fine for retail, but difficult for us academics, he said. Sounded like a challenge, so I gave him 10 examples. It is all measurable, and as a rounded business person, it should be. Winning funding, outcomes of trial data, average student ratings, and the list went on. Think you can get away with challenging us on curriculum vitae or resume accomplishments or achievements? No chance. Happy to take any others.

Step 2 – Add Numbers to all Achievements and Accomplishments

Achievement example 5Now add numbers to them. All must have a number(s) or they are near worthless and you are just the same as other candidates. Saved £X; reduced the number of days for x from y to z; presented x days training to y number of people resulting £x increased sales. Some full examples are shown below. I have also prepared a hidden page on our web site just for you and full of example achievements. Use these to help you with ideas. We wrote these for you.

Step 3 – Think Through the Your Skills and Competencies to get those Achievements and Accomplishments

  1. Once you have 15 to 30 achievements (you will start slow and then gain momentum as you begin to think this way), now think of the competencies or skill you had to use to get the achievement. Each achievement will have required multiple competencies (or skills) to achieve it. Log these next to the relevant achievement in your own language. We are doing this part for both your CV or resume and for interview. For example:
  • Utilised as a change champion for under-performing branches with 2 turn-around’s resulting in an enhancement of £130,000 to the bottom line and an increase in staff retention of 30% compared to the previous year.
    • This required competencies or skills related to analysis, leadership, change, inter-personal skills, motivation, personal development, finance and others.

Or, for example,

  • Streamlined procedures in line with the x manual providing a time saving of 130 people days per year within the branch as a whole (equivalent to £13,000 saving year on year). This pilot was replicated to 5 other branches providing a further £65,000 additional saving to the business.
  • This required competencies related to analysis, depth of understanding/ detail-orientation, cross-functional working, persuasion, co-ordination, and so on.

Achievement example 6Before we start, let’s show you some examples of well-formed achievements:

Accounting:Efficiently controlled all cheque processing and petty cash payments with a responsibility for £10,000 float

Administration: Designed and implemented a novel mail sort system which improved speed of internal mail distribution by 50%

Clerical:Improved filing system to enhance efficiency and save time resulting in a £4,000 saving year-on-year.

Financial:Introduced a computerised Credit Control and Debt Collection system resulting in a reduction of debtor days from 65 to 48 within eight months from Introduction.

Human Resources: Introduced a new performance management system in liaison with line managers which resulted in a 15% increase in sales turnover in six months.

Manufacturing:Introduced a CAM system that cut manufacturing costs by 10% and enhanced profit by £1.2m in first full year.

Secretarial:Provided full secretarial service to senior manager working within a busy office environment.  Ensured 100% of documentation produced to required standards and within agreed time-frames.

You will notice that each of the above examples is “FAB



How to Facilitate this Exercise in Pairs

Because drawing achievements and accomplishments out of people is such a tough exercise, you may want to find a friend who can help you. If you have done this, use the format below.

Stage 1: Curriculum Vitae and Resume accomplishments or achievements

Achievement example 7You may find it helpful to ask the question, “So what?” when you write down what you have done.  This will ensure you don’t miss the benefit or end product for your CV and interview, which is so crucial. When I am training face-to-face, we follow this routine, and you can use this to get the answers from your own mind or in pairs:

  1. “Take me through your career history starting from 10 years ago (or at 16 if you are younger).” Do not eliminate any part-time, temporary or seasonal jobs, or responsibilities at college or university. They all count.
  2. “Were you any good at it?” If they say “no”, then ask, “well, which parts were you good at?” Now ask yourself straight away, “How do you know?” If you think you were good at the role or parts of the role, there must be a reason for thinking this.
  3. Supplementary questions to ask yourself can include:
    • “What changes did you make when you were in that role? Why?”
    • “What improvements did you make to the systems or processes? Why?”
    • “What projects did you run or were part of?,  What was your contribution?”
  4. Depending on the response, now start to find measurements. It will take you a little time, but once you get into this way of thinking, you will never look back. And I am not just talking about when you are looking for a job. I am talking about your whole working life!
  5. When you have exhausted the role, move onto the next role and repeat the process. Keep going until you get to the present day. It becomes easier the closer to the present day you get.

If you can clearly demonstrate that your curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements have been beneficial to your previous employers, then you can certainly be of similar (or greater) benefit to your new one!

Your role in this exercise is to drag, kicking and screaming, successes out of your history. What’s more, to provide numeric measurements for each success. The numeric measures are vital (remember betting on a horse).

As soon as a success begins to appear, keep bringing your thinking back to understanding the business outcome – what did it do for the business? In particular, concentrate on the measurement of the success:

  • How much profit it brought (£)
  • Rises in customer satisfaction (%)
  • Cost savings (£)
  • Development of staff (number developed = cost saving to business of going externally to recruit £)
  • New rota design (£)
  • Co-ordination or cross-working with external bodies including suppliers, customers, consultants, professional bodies (number of bodies/value to the business)
  • Speed they completed their work compared to others (£)
  • How many telephone queries they dealt with were escalated compared to the average person (% or £)
  • How much space they saved (£)
  • How many calls they dealt with compared to the average (Number or £)
  • How much was delegated to them (cost of part of bosses salary £)
  • How many staff they managed (number)
  • Budget size controlled or administered (£)


Stage 2: Curriculum Vitae and Resume accomplishments or achievements

Log all curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements.


Stage 3: Curriculum Vitae and Resume accomplishments or achievements

Repeat the process for your next role, and so on. The nearer to the current role, the more achievements and details required. You should end up with between 15 to 30 achievements. the more the better.


Why Have we Done this Exercise on Curriculum Vitae and Resume Accomplishments or Achievements?

  1. With the curriculum vitae and resume accomplishments or achievements, we are now prepared to tailor a CV or resume for any job we might find interesting. It is a case of simply cutting and pasting the achievements from our ‘achievements bank’ to the CV template. Use your achievements and accomplishments examples there. We show you how to do this here.
  2. We are ready to knock the interviewer off their chair at interview.
  3. The best time to go for a job is when you feel successful! It’s all in your body language and ‘how’ you say things. Read your achievements over and over again. Realise how good you are. It is all in the numbers.

To help you with this exercise, you may wish to see some examples of achievements. You will find them here. Alternatively, you may want to assess your self-confidence, which you can do using our self-confidence questionnaire.

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