A curriculum vitae contains many components, key among them your achievements. While the rest of the CV is simply a declaration of your professional capabilities, your accomplishments offer a peek into what you have done in your career to further justify your proficiency.
What achievements are featured in the résumé and how and where they are captured could determine whether you get that job or not. So, how do you structure your career achievements for a winning CV that will persuade your potential employer to hire you?
Caroline Auma is a senior HR professional who has worked with various business entities across Africa. Auma explains that the structure of your achievements must meet the three tenets of “skills” being used to carry out a particular “activity” for a “quantifiable result”.
Your achievements must be relevant to the role you are applying for. If not, do not list them down. Employers always indicate the set of competencies and talents they require for each job they advertise. Only accomplishments related to your profession matter. If how you managed to shed 20kg within the last one year will not add any value to the advertised role, leave it out because it is irrelevant.
Highlight your most significant achievements and clarify them. Start with the most remarkable ones and end with the less significant ones. Your aim is to bring out your best capabilities, not mediocre achievements.
Bear in mind that hiring managers usually have very little time to go through each CV, so the last thing you want is to force them to spend half the time reading through below-par achievements at the expense of your strongest points.
AVOID VAGUE STATEMENTS
Always start with your most recent accomplishments. Your professional achievements in the past year are more relevant than what you may have achieved five years ago. With changing technology and trends, the professional world has become very fluid, such that your success a couple of years ago may not fit into the current context.
A recent accomplishment, however, signifies growth and ability to adapt to the current trends in your occupation.
Where you place the achievements in your résumé is critical. Achievements should always come under the “Experience” section. Instead of listing your responsibilities in the capacities you have served before, add your most polished skills and their corresponding tangible achievements.
Numbers are more emphatic than plain words. Avoid vague statements such as, “I extensively cut the operational costs while I served as the production manager,” or “I helped to grow the company’s profit margin while working there”. These statements offer very little information to the recruiter regarding your strengths.
“I cut the cost of production by 10 per cent, saving the company Sh2 million every year,” or “The company’s profit margin grew by 15 per cent during my two-year stint as the sales manager” offer a clearer picture of your successes.
Brag about your professional achievements. Do not be modest about it. Remember that what you have attained in your career is your selling point. Show it off therefore as long as you back up your claims with facts.
Avoid platitudes to avoid looking like everyone else applying for the job. A hiring manager will usually get hundreds of applications from candidates for one job opening.
HAVE AN EDGE
By including clichés such as “excellent deductive skills” in your CV, you are telling the recruiter, “Look, I am like any other candidate out there”. Have an edge in your list of achievements.
What you overlook as a weaker achievement sometimes turns out to be the unique element that separates you from the rest of the pack, tilting the scales in your favour.
Paring accomplishments with your range of skills is a sure way to catch the attention of the hiring manager. Achievements do not occur in isolation, they are a result of smart work and dedication based on your talents. Matching achievements with your skills helps to rubberstamp your key strengths.
When accomplishments are due to teamwork, indicate that. It is selfish to take all the credit for a goal you did not accomplish alone, however, mention your role in that team.
The listed accomplishments must be career-defining. The way they are written should bring out the career experiences you have had. These accomplishments should create a clear picture of yourself in action.
Anyone reading them should be able to visualise you growing the business and contributing to change within the organisation.
Accomplishments should not only be financial in nature, but also in other areas of the business, such as how you have shaped the culture of the organisations you have worked for.
If you have won awards and honours, include them too. These may include recognitions such as employee of the year award, sales manager or marketer of the month. To be awarded means you have done well in your line of duty, and this goes a long way to buttress your candidature for the job.
Remember that you will utilise your accomplishments through all the phases of your job search, so make sure you have your facts right.
Many job seekers tend to take accomplishments for granted. If you have not been tracking these, start now. Go to your past documents, meeting minutes and memos. Get feedback from your colleagues and begin to build these up. Each role provides opportunity for different accomplishments.
A winning CV is results-oriented. Your potential employer is obviously hiring you to deliver results and to drive their commercial interests.
The most accurate way to determine your suitability to the role in question is by scrutinising what you have done and achieved before. See your hiring manager as the buyer and you as the product. Give them a compelling reason to buy you.