What are ‘Significant Achievements’ in a Résumé?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Achievements are very important in senior résumés and are those (very few) things you did that stood out, had an impact and made a difference to the agency or business.

Perhaps you reduced the cost by X%, saved the business $Y, introduced a new policy that is still being used and saves the firm money or made the system more efficient.

Some people list achievements at the bottom of each past job. This can make the résumé very long, and in fact, achievements from long-past jobs don’t do much for you.

My suggestion is to have one heading of Significant Achievement and list around four extremely relevant and outstanding achievements.

Common mistakes in listing achievements

• Too often applicants list things that are really not ‘achievements’, but are just well-performed duties. E.g., “Gave excellent customer service.”
Listing duties where the outcome gave you personal satisfaction but did not improve the system. Personal satisfaction is not an indicator of ‘significant’.
• Trivial achievements or achievements that come from lower-level positions that show you are still thinking at this level. Keep your achievements recent.
• Examples from your personal life, regardless of how proud you are of them, will not impress the recruiter, e.g., “Elected captain of the tennis club three years in succession.”
Vague achievements, e.g., “Ten years of successful negotiations” tell us nothing, even if the skill of negotiation is a key requirement.
Achievements from past positions where the duties were different and are not relevant to the target position.
Gaining academic qualifications while working hard in your day job is laudable, but should not be listed as an achievement. Pity!
Long lists of achievements will not be read, so keep it down to around four items that are absolutely relevant to the target job.

BONUS TIP! When you re-target your résumé for a different job, with different duties and selection criteria, you must edit your list of achievements to ensure they are relevant to the new target job.

Buy the book: Write a Winning Job Application, 7th ed >
Available in soft-cover book (Aust Post express delivery nationwide) or ebook

Everything you need to know to succeed in today’s job market! Over 48,000 books sold Australia-wide in universities, bookshops & online.