Want your CV to work as hard as you do? Write your achievements like this…

The greatest space on your CV should be given to your achievements – bullet points in the past tense telling the reader the specific things you have delivered in each of your roles.

Many of the ‘achievements’ I have seen on CVs have been TERRIBLE… either like reading a dull job description of responsibilities, or vague unquantified activities.

This structure will really maximise the impact of your CV achievements:

1. Start with a power verb (words like transformed / expanded / generated / outperformed / founded).

2. Then give a summary of what you achieved with a metric.

3. Then explain how you did it.

Here’s a simple example:

  • Outperformed the divisional sales target by 14% by launching a new incentive scheme. Set clear objectives for the team, ensured their buy in, and aligned reward to performance.

Power verb: outperformed

Summary with metric: the divisional sales target by 14%

How: by launching a new incentive scheme etc.

One of the challenges I get regularly from my coachees is that they aren’t able to quantify the benefit of the project or activity they undertook. However, when we dig into the example, they usually can, they just haven’t thought of it in that way. Or they perhaps have to think a bit harder about the tangible outputs. I recognise that not everything is as visible as an uplift in sales.

Let’s take another example. Your existing bullet point might read:

  • Successfully launched a new performance management process…. (and a bit about how)

A way to expand on this is to reflect on why. Why did you launch a new performance management process? Perhaps because previously there was no consistent tool, line managers all did things differently, and individuals’ objectives weren’t aligned to the overall organisation’s objectives.

Also, reflect on the benefits to the organisation since launching it. Perhaps team members are now more closely aligned to the overall objectives. They may have SMART objectives that they can see their progress against and are able to be measured against. Perhaps you have been able to align the reward system to performance for the first time and can now incentivise performance against measurable and relevant outputs. Perhaps for the first time you can now see the percentage of line managers who are regularly having performance conversations with their team.

You get the idea.

So you could flip the original achievement from:

  • Successfully launched a new performance management process.


  • Created a performance culture, with 95% of line managers holding quality performance conversations with their team on a quarterly basis, through the successful launch of a new performance management process.

Check your CV now… maybe it would benefit from some tweaks.

If there are any ‘achievements’ for which you can’t articulate the benefit to the organisation, it probably shouldn’t sit in that section of your CV.

Never include anything under your achievements that you wouldn’t want to be probed on in interview.

For more power verbs, head to Want a stand-out CV? Sprinkle these power verbs through it liberally!

If you would like to invest in some expert support as you evolve your CV, you might be interested in my CV Surgery programme.

Comments are closed.