How to Write a Winning CV – Duties vs Accomplishments

In today’s highly competitive job market, it has become very challenging to secure a call to interviews even in situations where candidates appeared to be well prepared and well qualified for available positions.

If you have rolled out considerable number of applications without getting favorable responses then, this article is meant for you.

In this career advice session, I am providing you one of the proven and tested way by which you can spice up your CV to meet global and local recruiter standards and that is: optimizing your CV with compelling achievements presented as value propositions.

Soon you will learn how to not just transform your duties and responsibilities into achievements but also, identify those outstanding achievements you have glossed over. If you are a fresh graduate you would soon learn that there is no excuse for not having achievements!

What is the Differences between Responsibilities/Duties and Achievements?

Did you know that experienced recruiters in most instances already understand the tasks that are associated with your job titles straight away? Let’s consider the typical role of a teacher which entails teaching and marking of students scripts among others. What do you think will be a recruiter’s impression about these two duties in the CV of a hypothetical teacher?

Won’t these duties be far better presented should the focus of the teacher be on what he did differently that set him apart and yielded better results? The point I am making here is that every job seeker’s ultimate aim for taking time to write a CV is to unveil to the person reading your CV the best things about you in the best possible way.

The above therefore underscore the need for job seekers to clearly understand the differences between these three related terms and use it appropriately to benefit them in their job search. The excerpt below clearly illustrates the differences between duties/responsibilities and achievements:

  • Job Responsibility
    Led sales and marketing activities
  • CV Achievement
    spearhead KE mall’s sales and marketing initiative for newly developed smocks leading to turnaround of poor sales and increased sales from GHC 3 million to GHC 11 million in 12 months.

Deriving from these excerpt, responsibilities and duties does not fully communicate the value propositions of job seekers and this is best addressed using achievements. According to Live career, achievements showcases

How you contributed to your organization, how you show initiative, how you really add value. In other words, by performing your duties … you have made a positive impact”.  Achievements tells a compelling story of what you did or created that was above and beyond the scope of your duties and responsibilities and this is what will make your standout  

Read on and learn how to ditch the current duties in your CV and concisely make your new CV hymn the hallelujah for you!

Next I walk you Through How to Identify and List all your Achievements.

How to Write a Winning CV - Duties vs Accomplishments 1

At this stage my assumption is that you have clearly understood what a professional achievement is. Having gotten a clear idea of what an achievement statement is, it is timely to identify and concisely list down what you have achieved in your professional and personal life.

The mention of personal life achievements calls for further explanation. Achievements should not just be about your professional life but also it can encompass your contributions to friends, families, volunteering and society in general

 Thus, one important advantage of going in for an achiever optimized CV is that, job seekers have the chance to showcase their amazing achievements outside their domain of work.

If you are interested in nonprofits, charity based organizations and general volunteering, then usage of personal achievements is extra good for you.

To identify your achievements think of things you did in the past that simply set you apart. I have provided these questions to assist you unearth your achievements:

  1. Among other employees what made me standout?

  2. Did I win awards, nominations, accolades and certificates of recognition?

  3. What nagging problems did I solve where others failed?

  4. Did I improved the financial standing of the company or saved the company money?

  5. What did I do that was above and beyond my normal job duties?

  6. Was I ever recognized by a supervisor for a job well done? When and why?

  7. What new processes did I implement to improve things?

  8. Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?

  9. What made me really great at my job?

  10. What accomplishments were you praised for by your boss, colleagues or clients?

  11. Did you implement any new processes to improve things?

  12. Did you consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?

  13. Did you do anything that improved your customer service and efficiency?

  14. Did you increase the company’s press coverage, reputation or brand awareness?

To put all these questions in one, I will use the words of Cotsis who advised: “Think of the mark you left on each company  … What specific, measurable results were accomplished because you were in that position and not somebody else (

How to Put Identified Achievements into Your CV?

Identifying your achievements is not enough if you fail to adequately make it reflect in your new CV. Here my recommendation is that you would need to paint a very concise, juicy, and Irresistible value propositions as your achievements.

Perhaps, you were told you should have one value proposition right? It is not misplaced to have multiple value propositions. Each achievement adequately wrapped as a value proposition gets you closer to your next hire by increasing your value in the eyes of recruiters. 

To make such propositions factual, you would have to identify relevant keywords that are relevant to the job at hand and make sure that all achievements you are to put in your CV is reflective of these key words. For more details on how to make your CV responsive to job descriptions read our article on ATS tips for Ghanaian job seekers.

Do not forget to also make use of action words, absolute figures, percentages, location data, name specific  data, and time specific data in writing each achievement statement. To quote the muse careers your write-up must address:  

How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? Instead of saying you effectively managed a budget, list how much money you managed, and how much money you saved 

You can make your achievements impact more by concisely stating why you did the job better than others in the same or similar positions. In addition make sure there are clear statements of how your achievements could be of benefit to the prospective employer.

Finally lets Wrap Up With How to Properly Place your Achievements in Your CV

Decision of where to place a CV achievement/s depends on the skill of the writer, the strength of the achievement, the chosen CV style? and more importantly, it is a matter of choice.

Personally, I prefer presenting the achievements in the work experience section. I sometimes place very outstanding achievements at the very top immediately after the personal details. With experienced CV writers, the achievements can be dotted across all sections of the CV. 

How do you identify and present your achievements ?  Would be glad to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

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