How To Turn Your CV Activities Into Achievements
CVs are funny things, aren’t they? They’re so important for finding a job, but so difficult to write. There’s no formal qualification you can take to learn how – it’s more a case of picking up tips wherever you can: a book, a webinar, a chat with a friend or colleague.
It’s the last of those that prompted me to write this post, after a family member asked me for some feedback on her CV. Among the comments I gave was advice I’d picked up from Janet Moran of The CV House and it’s something lots of people fall foul of:
Don’t write what you did, write what you achieved.
My relative’s document read like a job description, not a CV, so I told her she’d benefit from changing her focus.
Thinking of your achievements is easier said than done, as my family member found out when I quizzed her further to discover her true value. But during a recent clear-out (my inner-Marie Kondo has been in full force in recent weeks and I’m practically on first-name terms with the people at the local tip) I rediscovered an article I’d printed from t’internet years ago.
It sets out a process for turning your activities into achievements and though I’d love to credit the source, it’s not on the printout anywhere. It’s so good though, that I thought it would be useful to share it here.
Step 1: Write a list of activities
Start by writing a list of your duties for a particular role – the sort of things you’d see on a job description.
Step 2: Choose a verb
Choose a verb that describes what you were doing in the activity. The following examples will get you started, but you could also use a Thesaurus to come up with your own.
Management & Leadership
Appraised / Chaired / Consolidated / Controlled / Defined / Evaluated / Guided / Increased / Led / Oversaw / Prioritised / Resolved / Strengthened / Spearheaded / Transformed / Undertook
Allocated / Analysed / Audited / Balanced / Calculated / Estimated / Forecast / Planned / Projected
Authored / Collaborated / Directed / Drafted / Edited / Expressed / Formulated / Inspired / Lectured / Mediated / Negotiated / Persuaded / Publicised / Reconciled / Translated / Wrote
Adapted / Conceptualised / Customised / Designed / Fashioned / Illustrated / Instituted / Introduced / Invented / Originated / Reviewed / Revitalised / Shaped / Sketched
Approved / Catalogued / Classified / Compiled / Executed / Filed / Implemented / Inspected / Listed / Monitored / Organised / Prepared / Processed / Screened / Systemised / Tabulated
Assembled / Computed / Constructed / Cultivated / Devised / Engineered / Fabricated / Fitted / Installed / Located / Maintained / Operated / Remodelled / Repaired / Upgraded
Accelerated / Accomplished / Attained / Completed / Conducted / Delivered / Developed / Effected / Enhanced / Enlarged / Exceeded / Expanded / Finished / Identified / Implemented / Improved / Increased / Obtained / Pioneered / Reduced / Resolved / Secured / Surpassed / Won
Advocated / Advised / Assisted / Coached / Counselled / Diagnosed / Educated / Encouraged / Facilitated / Guided / Mentored / Motivated / Referred / Represented
Created / Designed / Devised / Extended / Formulated / Generated / Improvised / Instituted / Launched / Originated / Re-designed / Set up
Step 3: State your part
Consider how you influenced these activities. Keep asking yourself: ‘I did this…which resulted in…?’ Even if you were part of a team that achieved the result, don’t shy away from including it. Write it as: ‘Supported the team to…’ or ‘Contributed to the team that…’
Step 4: Quantify your achievement
Where possible, quantify the end result. How many customers did you serve? How many sales did you generate? How many staff did you recruit? How many hours did you save? Again, the numbers don’t have to all be down to you and you alone. Simply put what the outcome was and the part you played.
Here’s what I’m talking about…
- Initiated a product development programme, resulting in over 80,000 additional sales.
- Restructured my department and recruited 12 new staff.
- Contributed to the design of a health and safety training programme, leading to a 20% drop in reported accidents.
- Created PR campaigns gaining coverage in 20% of trade and consumer media.
- Mentored 10 new staff as part of a 4-week onboarding programme.
So there you have it. A 4-step process to write a CV of achievements and not just activities. Now you’ve just got to put it into practice!
If you’ve any other tips for shifting the focus, it’d be great if you would share them in the comment box below please. The more help people can get writing a brilliant CV and not a boring job description, the better!
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