Tutorial: 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.
What were your targets?
Have you had a job or other experience where you had specific targets or objectives to reach? Did you achieve them? Or did you do better? How did you achieve them?
This helps show what you can do, rather than just 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.
Have you ever been told you've done a good job?
What for, and when? Who praised you? What examples could you give?
This helps show that you're more than just an average worker. You're one people can see have done well.
Have you ever received an award?
This could be for something you've done, or something you've been involved in as part of a team. What was your contribution? What was the award? This could also be formal recognition through your company – showing your level of service, reaching goals or doing well.
This shows that your work hits a high standard, that is worth recognising.
Have you ever suggested changes in the way a job is done?
What were the results?
This shows that you're able to not just do a job, but see how it can be done better. This is the kind of thing that employers love – as your suggestions might save them time, money or both. It also helps show that you're confident and able to think for yourself.
Have you ever taken on, or been given additional responsibilities?
What happened? Why did your employer pick you?
If you chose to do this, it shows ambition or a commitment to good quality service, and that you know you're capable of doing more. If you were chosen, it shows that an employer sees your potential. Both are good.
Remember, promotion is one way of taking on more responsibilities. But you might also have done this through tasks like taking part in a new project, introducing new work practices, or becoming an employee representative.
Now, let's think about how to describe these things
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, that 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 the benefit of prestige to your employer. They were shown as the best at something. That could attract clients and money, and show them in a good light.
Think through the achievements you've identified by answering the questions above. How would you describe the benefits they brought in the past? What benefits you feel they'd bring to a new employer?
Sometimes thinking about how you word your achievements can help, too. Some 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.
Put your achievements to good use
These are things you can shout about. Have some examples ready when you're writing a CV, going to an interview, or meeting people at a careers fair.