How to Write

A major achievement, in the context of your curriculum vitae, is a quantifiable improvement to organizational profitability, brought about, in full or in part, by your activities on its behalf.

Profitability may be delivered directly (via cost cutting initiatives or the securing of new business) or indirectly (through efficient utilisation of internal resources or the streamlining of operational procedures).

Major achievements should not be confused with the general duties and responsibilities associated with a position, which remain precisely the same no matter who is tasked with them. For best effect, include 3–5 bullet point achievements just after your personal profile.

A major achievement statement should offer clear, concrete evidence of your intangible skills and competencies, demonstrating their translation into practical, real-world benefits that ultimately enhanced the company's bottom line. For example, it is not sufficient to simply declare yourself a great team leader—you must go the extra mile by qualifying the results that your facility for leadership produced.

The simplest means of doing this is to employ the 'What?/So What?' formula, a two-step process that asks:

a. What did I do?
b. So what was the quantifiable result?

A first-rate educational result is an ideal achievement, so long as it is in a field conspicuously relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Let's prepare an impressive achievements section using the 'What?/So What?' formula. We'll start by asking the first question, 'What did I do?', to which the answer might be:

Made a complicated inventory program for my company.

Despite the difficulty involved, this is not really an achievement unless it produced some kind of positive outcome that increased the firm's profitability. This brings us to the second query, 'So what?', to which we might respond:

I saved the company time and money.

Now we have a unique action/result pairing, outside the spectrum of day-to-day duties and responsibilities, that clearly warrants consideration as an achievement. Let's reword it a little and see how it stands:

Wrote a complex inventory application, saving time and money.

Although this sentence seems to be adequate on the surface, it neglects to address an important element of the 'What?/So What?' formula: quantifying the outcome. Another reworking is required:

Built bespoke inventory application, reducing stock taking time from 2 hours to 10 minutes.

This version adheres to all aspects of the formula: it is a unique achievement, without which the company's stock taking bottleneck was unlikely to have improved.

Note how the phrase 'saving time and money' has been excised from the statement, since one is generally synonymous with the other. If, however, precise financial information on these savings were available, it could be incorporated into the achievement statement for added impact:

Built bespoke inventory application, reducing stock taking time from 2 hours to 8 minutes, saving €229K P.A.