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CVs with impact – talking about your achievements

Rebecca Clacy-Jones, Careers Consultant with the Careers Service, gives some practical tips on increasing the impact of your CV.

So your CV is in good shape, the layout works, it’s well labelled and well written and you have pulled together your work experience, volunteering, part time work and education… but you aren’t making the progress you are looking for. Perhaps it’s time to think about the impact that you want to have on the reader by selling your achievements.

Graduate recruiters tell us that tailoring your CV – making it as easy as possible to see that you are a close match for the job they are recruiting for – is key to being offered an interview. But how do you do that? And how can you make sure the reader understands what you are telling them about the great job that you did?

There some key things to avoid, including lots of technical information or jargon which isn’t related to the role that you are applying for, providing long lists of the tasks you undertook or copying from the job description. As you review the work experience section of your CV, ask yourself three key questions:

1. What makes you so special?

Rather than include the job description for your previous work, focus on the details of your key achievements in each role – What did you do which makes you stand out against your colleagues? What targets did you meet or exceed? What did you change, grow, develop, improve or complete? Demonstrating how well you did you your previous jobs – if that was as a barista, a class rep or an intern – suggests that you will be successful in other areas.

2. So what?

Employers don’t know each other’s challenges, income targets and industry goals, and they may not see the connection between your part time work and their graduate job so you need to make sure you explain the impact of the work that you did. Explain what you did and the impact that you had, on customers, clients, co-workers, budgets, sales and products. Show them that you understand the context of your role and the importance of completing your tasks effectively. Always tell reader what you did and why it matters.

3. Where is the evidence?

Evidence in the form of facts and figures, percentage increases, outcomes, surveys, external feedback and validation, prizes and awards is easy to understand. Can you demonstrate that you met your Key Performance Indicators, worked safely or met quality standards for example?

Asking yourself these questions can focus your attention on the weaker parts of your CV. Some examples of how this could look in practice – a student who has experience as a team leader for a coffee chain and is applying for roles in consulting could change ‘In charge of staff rota’ to: ‘Used Excel to design a rota system which incorporated staff preference and availability and reduced missed shifts by 30% in the first three months of implementation.’ Or they could change ‘served customers’ to ‘Developed strong working relationships with customers, resulting in a positive feedback score of 98% in a company-wide online feedback survey’.

Read more Careers Service advice on CV writing here: How to write your CV

Have a go at applying these techniques to your CV, and if you like, you can book an appointment with a Careers Consultant or come to our Information and Advice drop-in for a second opinion. You’ll find the links to access these here: Careers Service Quick Links



(Image from Canva)

(Image from Canva)


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