You can list specific accomplishments on your resume from your time in academics, sales, administration, communications, IT or other areas, but it’s a tricky section to nail on your resume. Which academic achievements will employers still care about after you’re done with school? Which of your accomplishments at your previous employers are worth listing? How much detail should you go into when listing accomplishments? You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to come across arrogant or egotistical — and you definitely don’t want to lie or over-exaggerate your qualifications. To ease your fears of making a mistake on an important job application, we’ve put together a guide for this part of your resume. Included is the list of over 70 examples of achievements that you can include on your resume (if they apply to you), which can also help you brainstorm about your own achievements and accolades.
What Qualifies as a Personal Accomplishment?
The term “accomplishments” might be more inclusive than you think. You don’t have to win a national award or be the very top employee at your organization to have an impressive list of accomplishments. You might already have plenty of achievements and accolades that you may not even think to list on your resume. There’s no hard and fast rule that defines what you can and can’t list, so you can use your best judgment. As a starting point, imagine someone asks you, “How do I know you’re good at what you do?” What would you say to them?
You might tell them, “I’m ranked as one of the top [. . .] in my field.” You might be able to highlight something specific that you had success in, like, “I managed a budget of X dollars,” or, “I oversaw a team of X number of people.” You might have notable academic achievements, such as, “I graduated with top honors,” or “I did this internship and gained these important skills.” Maybe you’ve been honored in a professional organization that you belong to, or maybe you’ve been part of a special committee that illustrates a certain skill or area of expertise.
Any of these things can be aspects that give you an edge. Remember, there’s more to being a good employee than just numbers. Being able to highlight statistics and measurements is always a plus, but you can also include more qualitative things — maybe you were voted “best/most likely to…” for some positive aspect by your colleagues. These kinds of accomplishments help potential employers get a better sense of who you are and the full breadth of what you can offer to them. Everyone can use some of the following examples of accomplishments.
How Much Detail Should You Include?
Your potential employers don’t want to read a novel, but you don’t want to leave out the key details that get your point across either. In general, you want to give the maximum amount of detail in the minimum amount of space. The best way to do that is with numbers. If you have a statistic or some kind of objective measure that goes with your achievement, always include it. Being specific is key, so if you don’t have a particular measurement or numeric indicator to include with your accomplishment, try to provide a particular example that proves what you’re saying isn’t just a collection of buzzwords.
For example, you could say, “I have successfully completed major projects under tight deadlines without sacrificing quality.” Far better would be to say, “From October to December 2014, I performed a comprehensive budget analysis for our client, finished ahead of schedule, and received extremely positive reviews from the client.” This way, you’ll specify exactly what work you did, why it was exceptional, and what end benefit you provided for the client or your company.
One great way to approach this is to start with a list of the duties that your job requires. Then turn each duty into an accomplishment by re-framing it — instead of saying what you do, say how well you do it. Not only do you want to outline your personal achievements, but be sure to put it in terms of what value you provided to your employer. For whoever is reviewing your resume, this will bring home that you can make a real, measurable difference where you work.
If you are particularly interested in one position or company, it’s a good idea to tailor your resume to that employer or industry. If attending a job fair and applying to a broader range of positions, it’s best to include accomplishments that reflect a more full scope of your experience and talents.
Examples of Accomplishments
We’ve broken our examples down into several categories: academic, which may be applicable to any industry (and may be especially helpful if you’re a recent graduate applying for your first post-graduation job); sales and corporate; administrative and HR; media and communications; and general, which are additional achievements that aren’t industry-specific. How many of these achievement examples can you claim?
Remember, the more you can tailor these examples to reflect your personal experiences, the better. We recommend finding all the examples that apply to you; then create a list with those and personalize each one by adding “by…” or “with…” to the end. From there, you can refine and polish your text into a comprehensive list of accomplishments. Be sure to use strong action verbs when describing your responsibilities, and to choose accomplishments relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Completed an internship with [organization] for [length of time], where I [assisted/provided/learned/etc.] . . .
- Participated in an honors society
- Named to the Dean’s List for [number] semesters
- Graduated with [honors designation]
- Maintained a [number] GPA
- Assisted a professor on a research project where I . . .
- Was elected [officer/rank] in [club/organization]
- Recognized by local board or committee, academic society, school or department
- Received a scholarship for [years/semester] in [dollar amount]
- Finished in the top Xth percentile of my class
Sales and Corporate Accomplishments
- Consistently met/exceeded sales quotas for [length of time] by X%
- Completed sales goals [amount of time] ahead of schedule
- Improved customer service ratings by X%
- Managed X number of client accounts
- Closed the largest/one of the largest deals of the year with a $X contract
- Achieved X% for customer satisfaction
- Improved shareholder/stakeholder value or satisfaction by X%
- Improved sales conversions by X%
- Formed a new affiliation/business partner with… that was highly beneficial because . . .
- One of the top earners by commission among X number of employees
- Finalized contracts with X number of new clients
- Increased portfolio earnings by X%
- Improved relationship with industrial association/partner organization
Administrative and HR Accomplishments
- Managed a budget of $X
- Stayed under budget for X years/quarters by an average of X%
- Oversaw the workflow of a team of X number of people
- Oversaw hiring for X department/team
- Solved a dispute between . . . by . . .
- Improved efficiency by updating database/records
- Streamlined office operations and improved productivity by . . .
- Developed/improved quality standards or assessments
- Handled X number of workplace conflicts
- Trained X number of new employees
- Provided organizational support for [executives/management] by . . .
- Created new rules or requirements for PTO/flextime/workplace hours that reduced absenteeism
Media and Communications Accomplishments
- Supervised a successful campaign which raised $X
- Increased donor/customer base by X%
- Reached X number of new customers/readers/viewers in [time frame]
- Overcame negative publicity for my company by . . .
- Played a key role in launching a new product
- Developed and led a focus group for a new product/service
- Analyzed/organized customer responses on a poll/survey which led to an X% increase in sales
- Brought company/product into a new market
- Raised brand awareness by X% among . . .
- Improved sales in [a demographic/market] by [percentage or dollar amount]
- Contributed to the brand’s positive image by . . .
- Deployed a new strategy in . . .
- Increased social media engagement by X%
- Upgraded/transitioned software across X number of servers/offices/teams/platforms
- Resolved X [number or percentage] of bugs in an open-source project or company software
- Implemented new equipment/hardware for [number of people]
- Deployed technical support for X [number of internal employees/external clients]
- Managed an intranet of X number of users
- Provided back-end development for X number of apps/websites
- Was promoted to lead specialist in [specific area/system]
- Reduced downtime by X%
- Wrote software that greatly improved productivity by . . .
- Led a team of X number of other IT specialists
- Oversaw the upgrading of a data center/network for the organization
- Increased security for sensitive information by . . .
- Led team members in the implementation of new process/software
- Held a perfect/near perfect attendance record
- Received designation/award in/for . . .
- Was voted the most/best [X] by peers
- Received recognition from supervisors for . . .
- Was featured in magazine/book/newspaper/website
- Was promoted X number of times in X years
- Created a new course, methodology or program
- Hold [organizational, local, regional, national] record in . . .
- Received consistently high-performance reviews
- Published X number of articles/books
- Attained certification in . . .
- Coordinated between different teams/agencies/departments for a major project
- Presented at a conference, workshop, or seminar
- Organized an event for X number of people
- Was promoted to [position] after only X months
Final Tips Before Listing Significant Job-Related Accomplishments
Remember that you don’t want to just make a list of positive things that you’ve done. You also want to highlight exactly how you did what you did, and more importantly, specifically state what difference your actions had for your company. This will prove the worth of your skills in a quantifiable way, and that’s compelling information for prospective employers.
If your resume could easily belong to one of your colleagues, go back and find ways to make it more personal so that it applies only to you. There are going to be a lot of candidates for any given job opening, so one of the key ways to be the winning candidate is to think like the person who’s hiring and highlight the things that make you exceptional — make yourself memorable. Prove that the organizations you’ve worked with in the past are better off because you were there. Putting your accomplishments in those terms makes it easy to understand how valuable you can be to the company where you’re applying.
With these tips and accomplishment examples, you can arrange your resume in a way that will make hiring managers stop and take notice. It can be nerve-wracking as you go through the application process for a new job, but with thought and preparation, you’ll be able to present the best version of yourself to prospective employers. Best of luck on the job hunt!
For more resume-improvement ideas, see our article: 50+ Professional Organization Examples for Your Resume.