With job ads these days often attracting tens if not hundreds of applications, standing out is one of the biggest challenges you will face in your job search. If a recruiter is sifting through résumé after résumé, how can you make sure yours is the one that gets noticed? In our experience there is one characteristic that all standout CVs share and it’s something that surprisingly few people actually do.

Never mind your qualifications, previous responsibilities and how pretty your CV looks. Above all else, employers hire people they believe will get results. One of the biggest problems we find with the résumés we come across is that they highlight a long list of skills and responsibilities when all the recruiter really wants to know is that you can get the job done.

How can I prove I’m the best person for the job?

Previous performance is the best indicator of future performance. This means that if you really want to stand out from the crowd and show that you are the best candidate for the role, you have to create a résumé that focuses on achievements and showcases the outcomes and results you got for your previous employers.

For the biggest impact, you should place your achievements section on the front page of your résumé, so it’s easy for recruiters to spot at a quick glance.

What if I don’t have any major career achievements?

Thinking of your work history in terms of results can be surprisingly hard to do, but chances are you’ve achieved a lot more than you think. The following seven questions might help you find some inspiration.

  • How is/was your employer better off now than they were when they hired you?
  • Did you increase sales, and if so by how much?
  • Did you save them any money and if so, how much?
  • Did you implement any new systems or processes and how were they of benefit?
  • Did you generate any new business, or forge any new affiliations that were useful?
  • Did you improve productivity through introducing any new techniques or systems?
  • Did you do anything that improved communication for your organisation and if so, what were the benefits as a whole?

Remember, these accomplishments don’t have to necessarily all come from your most recent role, or even from paid employment at all. Outcomes achieved through volunteer work or hobbies definitely count!

Once you have two or three career defining achievements picked out, the next step is to frame them in a way that will appeal to recruiters. Here are two possible ways you can do this:

1) CAR statements

CAR stands for Challenge, Action, Results and this simple format lets you frame your achievements in a way that makes it really clear to recruiters what you’ve done. To give this a try, pick one of your achievements and write down the following:

Challenge – what was the problem you had to resolve or the challenge that you faced?

Action – What action did you take to overcome the challenge and why?

Results – What was the outcome of the actions you took?

2) SOAR statements

Not all situations fit the standard CAR format, and a good alternative is to use a SOAR statement. SOAR stands for:

Situation – what position did you find yourself in when you started the job?

Opportunities – what opportunities did you identify?

Action – what actions did you take to reach your goals?

Results – the results of your actions

However you choose to frame it, it’s essential that when you’re writing about achievements you make them specific and wherever possible, quantifiable. Avoid vague statements and try to put your results in context by explaining what the outcome meant for the business as a whole.

What should I do now?

Check over your résumé – is it mostly a list of your experience and responsibilities? If so try writing a results section using the ideas listed above. Pick two or three achievements, turn them into CAR or SOAR statements and include them in your next job application.

It may sound simple enough but tweaking your CV to highlight your achievements will greatly boost your chances of landing an interview and getting one step closer to the job of your dreams.

*At CV Saviour, we use CV and résumé interchangeably because in the Australian job market, either is acceptable, and both are understood.

© Copyright CV Saviour 2017.


(updated 2021)

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