Selling yourself through your achievements


figure on rock sunsetWe all know that the job market today is the toughest and most competitive it has ever been. How many other people do you think applied for the last job you applied for? 5? 10? In reality it is more likely to be 50-100.  Within those applications, not all would have met the criteria (maybe 20 would have), however, the employer would not have the time or inclination to interview all of those 20 candidates.

So how does an employer select which candidates they shortlist for interview? Those that demonstrate how WELL they meet the criteria, but also how their skills and experience has had a positive outcome, result or achievement such as adding value, cutting costs, optimising performance, winning clients, developing award winning solutions etc.

Candidates that bring their skills and experience to life on applications, CVs and at interview by demonstrating outcomes, specifics and achievements really ‘sell themselves’. Feedback from recruiters suggests that after relevant experience, achievements are the next most important thing they look for on a CV.

90% of my clients find this the difficult part – how do you really “sell yourself”?

The easiest way is to demonstrate this is to think about the ‘person specification’, the description of the employee that employers want to hire. An employer wants someone who is proactive, positive and can demonstrate that they are aware of the impact they have had made on the business.

So what does this mean for you? This means you are not just telling an employer that you have experience in improving processes and procedures. This is a generic statement that does not explain in any detail what was improved, how and most importantly what the end result is. The most powerful statements are those backed up by results.

Avoid cliché sales statements

Imagine hearing the same sales pitch over and over again, it would get pretty boring. Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes who is sifting through 60+ CVs with vague cliché statements such as “I am a team player”. Instead the employer wants to see results and achievements. So instead of “I’m a team player” think of the situations where you have worked collaboratively as part of a team and achieved valuable results.

We are all guilty of using the occasional cliché, however, when these are used over and over again without any supporting evidence it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Don’t bore the reader, keep it fresh and interesting, backed with solid quantifiable evidence and be original in your approach.  Remember your aim is to make them read on and pay attention.

Writing strong achievements

Writing a good, compelling achievement will put you to the top of the pile. Following a simple sentence structure will help you to turn an achievement into a good achievement:

  • (F) Feature: The way you did this. Start the sentence with a power word (e.g. consistently, successfully, actively, continually, efficiently)
  • (A) Action: What you did. Use a verb (e.g. maximised, minimised, exceeded, re-vitalised, created, launched, coordinated) followed by a few words describing what you did.
  • (B) Benefit: State the benefit to the company, customer etc. If you can make the benefit quantifiable this will have much more of an impact and show the employer how you can add value

-       Example: “Continually (F) exceeded monthly personal sales targets (A), helping the team to perform over target for the first time in 5 years (B).

-       Example: “Successfully (F) organised all travel arrangements for overseas conference (A), ensuring budgets were kept to and directors minimised time wasted (B).

Applying this structure to your experiences is a sure-fire way to produce a long list of good, compelling achievements.

What is the buyer (employer) looking for?

Imagine you are in a shop looking to buy a new state of the art TV and the sales assistant doesn’t ask you what you are specifically looking for, and doesn’t explain to you any of the relevant features of the TVs, which are the best value and why a particular brand is right for you – how likely are you to buy from them? If you are selling yourself to an employer – the same thing applies.

  • Write down a list of your strengths and why they are an asset or are important.
  • Focus on the skills that you have used in previous roles and think about scenarios where you have used these effectively to benefit the business you have worked for.
  • Prepare a 20-30 second brief explanation explaining who you are, your skills and what you do. That way when you meet new people, or attend an interview you can make a strong first impression.
  • When speaking to employers or putting together a CV you need to concentrate on what you can do for the company – not what the company can do for you.

The biggest concern my clients have when selling themselves is that they are overselling themselves or are coming across as arrogant. However, you need to think about this in a different way – you are simply supplying the employer or the recruiter with evidence that you have successfully used the skill and that it has had a positive outcome.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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