Identifying your achievements

It can be hard to recognise your achievements.

Sometimes, you take things for granted as 'part of the job', that actually show how well you do things, or when you've gone above and beyond.

There might be things you do out of work, like volunteering or community work, that you don't realise are big achievements too.

The questions on this page will help you think through your achievements, and how to present them to a potential employer. 

1

Targets

Think about a time you had a job, or other experience, where you had specific targets to reach. 

Did you achieve them? How did you achieve them?

When reflecting on or discussing achievements, it's important to demonstrate what you did - over and above what you were responsible for. 

It's one thing to say that sales was one of your tasks in a job, but another to say you regularly went beyond your monthly sales target.

2

Doing a good job

Think about examples of times you've earned praise from others. 

What did you do, and what made it so good? Describe your approach and what you learned from the experience. 

3

Awards

Whether as part of a team or as an individual, have you ever won anything? 

Think about it. What was the award, and what did you do to win it? 

It also takes in formal recognition from your company – showing your level of service, reaching goals or doing well.

This shows that your work hits a high standard that's worth recognising.

4

Making improvements

Have you ever come up with a better way of doing things at work? It doesn't need to be anything big. 

What did you do, and how did you convince others about your idea?

This is the kind of thing that employers love – as your suggestions show you're not just able to do the job, but show how it can be done better.

It also helps show that you're confident and able to think for yourself.

 

5

Additional responsibilities

What happened?

If you chose to do this, it shows ambition and commitment to providing good quality service.  

If you were chosen, it shows that an employer sees your potential. Both are good.

Promotion is one way of taking on more responsibilities. But there's more to it than that. 

By taking part in a new project, introducing new work practices, or becoming an employee representative, you're also demonstrating that you're capable of doing more.

6

Describing achievements

When you think about your achievements, consider how they benefitted your employer or the people you were helping.

For example, if you exceeded your target each month, you'll have helped your employer keep their wider targets on track.

It meant work was done ahead of time or below budget. So, it might have saved money or limited risks.

Or, if you won an award, you brought prestige on your employer and yourself. That could attract clients and money, and show them in a good light. 

Think about those achievements. How would you describe the benefits they brought in the past? What benefits you feel they'd bring to a new employer?

Useful words

Sometimes thinking about how you word your achievements can help, too.

Helpful words might be: created, delivered, increased, reduced, saved, improved, developed or negotiated.

Structuring your examples

It's also helpful to think about how you explain these examples. Using the STAR technique to describe your achievements can help - we've got a tutorial which takes you through it.

7

Putting them to good use

Shout about your achievements.

Have some examples ready when you're writing a CV, going to an interview, or meeting people at a careers fair.