Cover photo of how to list accomplishments and awards on a resume

How to List Accomplishments on a Resume in 2021 (Including Awards & Key Achievements)

Showcasing your achievements is what can be the cherry on the cake to help you stand out from the crowd as a top performer and really attract employers.

Ed Moss
Written by Ed Moss • Last updated on Feb 24, 2021

Achievements, accomplishments, and awards can all serve as major highlights and points of interest on a resume and can help you to get a leg up on the competition.

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about including achievements on a resume, from what kinds of accomplishments to include to where to place them. 

  1. Why Should I Place Accomplishments on My Resume?
  2. What Kinds of Achievements to Include on a Resume
  3. Examples of General Professional Achievements 
  4. Examples of Industry-Specific Achievements
  5. Examples of Academic Achievements 
  6. How to List Achievements on Your Resume

Why Should I Place Accomplishments on My Resume?

Accomplishments on a resume serve as an indicator to an employer that you have a particularly strong work ethic or skillset.

Including your achievements on a resume is key to showcasing your strengths and talents while also improving your likelihood of landing the job you are applying for.

There are two main ways to place accomplishments on your resume:

  1. In Job Descriptions. In your work experience section, the way you describe your previous jobs matters.

    Job descriptions are a great place to highlight your specific achievements in this position. 
  2. In a Dedicated Achievements Section. Creating a dedicated section for achievements allows you to expand upon your overall accomplishments and showcase awards or other honors given to you.

Including accomplishments in not one, but both of these sections on a resume can help to accentuate your skills in a way that will stand out to potential employers. 

Achievements vs. Awards

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are inherent differences between an achievement and an award. 

With an achievement, the accomplishment is generally something the candidate set out to do and succeeded in the completion of.

For example, optimizing a company work schedule or increasing a company’s sales.

While these kinds of achievement will usually result in some kind of reward or promotion, they ultimately are obtained through specific actions of the candidate themselves.

Comparatively, an award is a recognition of an individual’s work and is given to them by a third-party.

While a job applicant worked hard to obtain an award, the award is ultimately a symbol of somebody else’s satisfaction with the applicant’s work. 

Including both achievements and awards is a good way to show that you have a strong work ethic and innovative ideas that have been professionally recognized and acknowledged. 

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What Kinds of Achievements to Include on a Resume

Achievements can be broken into a few basic categories, each with varying levels of importance. The categories are:

1) General

Achievements such as earning promotions or an increase in sales can be a bit more general in nature and are usually best placed within job descriptions. 

2) Industry-Specific

Achievements that involve industry specific problems provide you with accomplishments that directly relate to the job you are applying for and will often be listed in a larger achievements section.

For example, an IT professional would want to list if they led a digital project. 

3) Academic

Academic achievements are generally a bit different than the other two and include accomplishments such as publications and academic awards.

The role of academic achievements will vary depending on the type of resume you are using and the job you are applying for but will generally be found either in the achievements or education section. 

We've listed a few examples below:

Examples of General Professional Achievements 

Every job applicant is different and each individual is going to have a different set of awards and achievements that may or may not be directly related to the job they are applying for. 

Even if an award or achievement is not directly related to the job, including these provides a good opportunity to showcase your work ethic and transferable skills.

Awards and achievements indicate your passion and commitment to your work – and when properly presented on a resume, your achievements can give you a substantial advantage over the competition. 

Here are a few examples of general achievements to include on a resume:

  • Systems or procedures you designed and implemented 
  • Increases in sales for a company
  • Promotions to higher positions at a past job
  • Problems you solved for the company, such as operational efficiency issues 

Tips for Writing General Achievements on a Resume

When including general achievements on a resume, you still want to include enough detail to give the employer or hiring manager looking over your resume a clear idea of what you specifically achieved.

For instance, here is an example of how a sales professional might showcase an achievement:

Incorrect: Increased overall sales for the company
Correct: Increased sales by 38 percent quarterly

The extra detail gives much more specific information that an employer can more directly relate to their own company’s needs. 

For example, take a look at how this Sales Manager resume example lists their sales growth (by 38%)

Sales Manager

Examples of Industry-Specific Achievements

When applying to jobs within a specific industry, including relevant awards or achievements can be highly useful in helping your resume to stand out from other applicants’.

According to Indeed, the 6 most popular job sectors within the United States are:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Education
  3. Information technology
  4. Retail
  5. Real Estate
  6. Government
  7. Administration
  8. Marketing and Advertisement
  9. Business and Finance

Below we have provided helpful examples for industry-specific achievements for each of these sectors:

Healthcare

Healthcare encompasses many jobs, including nurses and medical assistants.

Examples of healthcare related achievements can include:

  • Provided patient service and care that resulted in increase in positive ratings for the medical facility.
  • Implemented better organizational systems that resulted in a 15 percent deduction of wasted medical supplies.

Education 

Education is a large umbrella for many jobs, including k-12 teachers and research assistants.

Here are a couple examples of achievements in the field of education:

  • Improved yearly test scores for third graders by 85 percent.
  • Contributed to a paper published in an official academic journal.

Information Technology (IT)

IT is a growing sector, continually increasing in importance as more businesses become more digitally oriented.

Jobs within this sector can include positions such as web developers and software engineers.

Examples of achievements for IT professionals include:

  • Implemented a cloud migration that resulted in a 40 percent reduction of IT operational costs.
  • Created a new user interface for the company’s software that received 90 percent customer approval. 

Retail

Retail continues to be a major sector and includes job such as sales associate and customer service representative.

Here are two examples of achievements for a retail professional:

  • Upsold products at an 85 percent success rate, leading to an increase in overall company sales
  • Increased customer retention rate by 15 percent.

Real Estate

From real estate agents to property managers, the real estate sector is flush with potential employment opportunities.

Examples of achievements for a real estate professional include:

  • Sold properties at an average of 15 percent higher than the asking price.
  • Maintained a 95 percent satisfaction rate with tenants as a property manager.

See the real estate example below where the candidate lists "Increased sales by 15% by coordinating with clients..."

Real Estate Agent

Government

The government sector covers many different kinds of positions that oftentimes overlap with other sectors.

Government positions can include jobs such as treasurer and city council member.

Here are a few examples of achievements of government professionals:

  • Implemented new protocols that reduced a city’s energy waste by 20 percent.
  • Provided community resources that lowered crime rates and the use of law enforcement by 40 percent. 

Administration

Almost every business is in need of administrative professionals.

Jobs within this sector include positions such as administrative assistant and office manager.

Here are some examples of achievements within this sector:

  • Managed travel arrangements and budgetary needs for entire corporate board of executives.
  • Reduced operational costs by 20 percent by switching to a different office supplies vendor. 

Marketing and Advertisement

The marketing and advertisement sectors see a significant amount of overlap and encompass positions such as marketing managers and copywriters.

Examples of achievements within these sectors include:

  • Increased readership of a company blog from 2,000 to 30,000 over a 6 month period.
  • Generated leads at two times the average rate compared to competitors. 

Business and Finance

Within the sectors of business and finance are many important jobs, such as asset managers or business consultants.

Here are a couple examples of how to list achievements for these sectors:

  • Assisted in optimizing risk assessments, resulting in a reduction of errors by 25 percent
  • Reached out to and onboarded three top-level corporate banking clients.

Tips for Writing Industry-Specific Achievements on a Resume

When providing industry-specific accomplishments on a resume, it is important to consider how the achievement can relate back to the needs of the employer. 

For instance, a job applicant applying to a company looking for a marketing professional to help them extend their online reach.

Here is an example of how that job applicant might frame their accomplishments:

Incorrect: Provided a year-long marketing strategy for the company.
Correct: Implemented a 12-month marketing strategy that improved the company’s online sale conversion rate by 45 percent. 

Examples of Academic Achievements 

The inclusion of academic achievements on a resume will largely depend on the position you are applying for and the type of resume format you are using.

For most standard or entry-level jobs, the academic section should be kept fairly brief with only the most relevant accomplishments being included. 

Examples of academic achievements can include:

1) Publications

Any essays, papers, books, or other works that are published and credit you as an author or co-author can aide in showing your expertise.

Including published works that relate to the sector you are applying to can be especially helpful in showing your scope of knowledge on the industry. 

2) Presentations

Presentations have a similar benefit to publications, but with the added advantage of showing your skills in planning and carrying out a full project presentation.

Being invited to give a presentation additionally reveals your status and credibility amongst your peers as well. 

3) Academic Awards

Academic awards, such as being honored on a Dean’s List or receiving an award for a new scientific discovery, are crucial for resume formats focused on academia such as a CV. 

More often than not, large and extensive sections on academic achievements will be primarily seen used on a specific type of resume known as the CV, or curriculum vitae. 

In a CV, the entire focus of the resume in placed upon academic experiences and achievements, and as such, providing larger amounts of information and detail than you would on a standard resume is typically recommended. 

Tips for Writing Academic Achievements on a Resume 

If you are not creating a CV, including academic achievements can still be useful, especially if your resume is lacking in other work-related accomplishments. 

Here is an example of how someone applying to an IT position might frame a related academic achievement on their resume:

Incorrect: Created a new software for an app.
Correct: Created the software and digital infrastructure for an award-winning mobile app. 

Take a look at this Full Stack developer example below to see how to demonstrate achievements.

Full Stack Developer

Key Takeaways for Listing Achievements on Your Resume

Listing your achievements on your resume, as we have covered, is a great way to catch a potential employer’s eye and show your strengths reflected through your accomplishments.

Here are 3 key takeaways for how to list achievements on your resume to help guarantee you land the job of your dreams:

1) Provide Detailed and Quantifiable Facts

Don’t just list every little achievement without any context. Always provide enough detail and quantifiable information to show an employer exactly what you achieved.

The detail given should also contextualize and frame the accomplishment in such a way that the employer can easily determine how your skills may benefit their business. 

2) Make Your Achievements Attention-Grabbing

Take the time to sit down and write out all of your achievements, identifying the most quantifiable and relevant ones.

Once you have narrowed down the best achievements to include, phrase them in a way that will hook the reader and add more overall value to your resume.

3) Use Multiple Sections to Emphasize Accomplishments

Achievements do not have to be – and should not be – reserved only for a dedicated achievement section

Include your achievements as details within job descriptions to give employers a more thorough idea of your accomplishments in previous positions.

This will help to make your work experience section more memorable as well. 

Closing Thoughts

Listing your achievements on a resume is important, especially considering a resume should showcase your best assets and greatest skills or talents.

Taking the time to find the ways to relate your accomplishments and awards back to what an employer is looking for in an ideal candidate is key to hooking their attention and landing an interview.

Check out our example resumes to get more industry-specific examples and gain inspiration for your ideal resume. 

Ed Moss is an author for Easy Resume
Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.
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