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How to Write Achievements in a CV

by Ellie Williams

When reviewing your curriculum vitae, many employers will evaluate you based on what you’ve accomplished rather than on your previous job titles or descriptions. Your achievements offer verifiable, quantifiable proof of your skills, knowledge and potential, so if you want to attract an employer’s attention, build your CV around these past successes.

Use Action Verbs

Make a strong first impression by describing your achievements in active, vivid language. This makes it easier for employers to envision your accomplishments and more effectively persuades them you can duplicate this success at their organization. For example, instead of saying you were responsible for leading a specific research project, write that you developed a hypothesis based on a review of previous research, recruited fellow scientists from esteemed universities to assist you, and secured a significant grant to fund the project.

Describe Benefits

A CV should demonstrate what an employer will gain by hiring you, so focus on the reader instead of on yourself. Employers read CVs with a “What’s in it for me?" perspective, so your accomplishments will carry more weight if you discuss how they contributed to your previous organization's growth. If you won a prestigious award, for example, mention how that enhanced the organization’s image and brought in several large donations. If you won a research grant, discuss how you used the funding to achieve a scientific breakthrough that earned your institution national accolades.

Be Specific

The more details you provide, the more impressive your accomplishments will appear to employers. This also gives them the information they need to assess how your achievements will translate to their organizational culture. Instead of saying you earned a promotion, emphasize that you became the youngest person to earn tenure at your university. If you won faculty member of the year, note that you secured the honor by revising your department’s curriculum, a change that earned your program recognition as one of the top in the nation.

Take Credit

Your CV should sell your strengths and talents as an employee, so it’s important to take credit for all of your accomplishments, even if you achieved them as part of a team. It’s not boastful to point out what you excel at or how you outperformed the competition. If you don’t speak up, employers can’t accurately assess your potential, and you’ll likely lose out against other applicants who do. Make a list of everything you’ve done at work, as part of volunteer efforts or through professional associations. If it was part of a group effort, describe what role you played and how you contributed to the project’s success.

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