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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Achievements can be broken into a few basic categories, each with varying levels of importance. The categories are:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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%)
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:
Below we have provided helpful examples for industry-specific achievements for each of these sectors:
Healthcare encompasses many jobs, including nurses and medical assistants.
Examples of healthcare related achievements can include:
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:
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:
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:
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:
See the real estate example below where the candidate lists "Increased sales by 15% by coordinating with clients..."
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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