EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

What not to do when writing your CV, Part 4: List responsibilities not achievements

by Shannon Houde

In our final post of this series, I’ll be drilling down on the last part of the CV puzzle: accomplishment statements. What they are, why they work, and how to write them to help land your dream sustainability job.

In my various professional incarnations — hiring manager, entrepreneur, corporate social responsibility (CSR) corporate consultant, impact career coach, to name but a few — I’ve seen more CVs than you’ve seen job adverts. The candidates that stand out are the ones that use the ‘career history’ section to highlight key achievements that demonstrate tangible things they’ve actually done. The ones that really shine select statements that match up to the essential and desirable criteria in the job description.

Wondering how to get started? Look over your current CV or resume, and try summarizing it into 12 accomplishment statements using the language framework below. These statements should be framed around the impact/result of your action, indicate how you took that action – i.e. what skills you used, include context and numbers to make it come to life — and relate back to the key criteria in the job description. A good accomplishment statement has four parts:

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1. The Wow: Start with a verb that shows purpose/results and that impresses (example: increased, propelled, enabled, raised, grew, won, solved).

2. The So What: Front-load the statement with the larger purpose (or result/impact) of why the company or client wanted you to achieve this for them.

3. The Where, When, How Many: Include the scope where possible (number of clients, timespan, amount of money, company names, awards, etc.).

4. The How: End with a drill-down description of three tasks you actually did, specifically what skills you used.

Here are some examples:

Before
Supported new business development activities including writing proposals and presentations to prospective clients.

After
Won £50K of new sustainability consulting contracts over six months from retail and FMCG clients through identifying Walmart and P&G’s needs, writing proposals, and delivering pitch presentations to four directors.

Before
Influenced and inspired businesses at C-suite and board levels to understand and act upon the connection between sustainability and commercial growth.

After
Led groundbreaking aviation working group for United, Delta and American to achieve joint commercial-scale uptake of low carbon renewable jet fuel through organizing inaugural meeting in San Francisco and collaborating across 10 global stakeholders for funding.

See the difference? It’s a no-brainer! By highlighting your accomplishments in specific terms rather than your generic responsibilities, you’re maximizing your experience and showing the hiring manager just what they’ll be getting on day one if they take you on.

For more advice on creating a killer CV, sign up for a 1-hour critique. Also check out Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

This post originally appeared on TriplePundit.

Photo by Andrew Smith, via Flickr

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