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10 Personal achievements examples that can inspire yours

October 24, 2022 - 12 min read

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What are personal achievements?

Why highlight your personal achievements?

10 examples of achievements for a resume

How to highlight accomplishments in a resume or job interview

Use strong language

Don’t sell yourself short

Hiring managers are busy people. Between back-to-back meetings, endless emails, and negotiating offers, it’s no wonder they spend only seven seconds reviewing a job seeker’s resume

If the resume they’re reading happens to be yours, it better stand out. A great CV should quickly show recruiters why you’re the best candidate for the job by being short, well-organized, and tailored to the position to which you’re applying.

And most importantly, it should be more than a list of previous job descriptions. It should highlight your track record of successes and achievements.

Listing your greatest achievements shows potential employers you can produce great outcomes for them because you’ve done it before. Whether you improved customer satisfaction rates or exceeded sales expectations, highlighting your accomplishments shows you value hard work and follow through on your commitments.

And don’t stick to just professional accomplishments, either — your personal ones have the same effect. As long as they relate to the job at hand, personal milestones add to a recent graduate’s otherwise sparse CV or complement a seasoned professional’s diverse work experience. 

But you should be strategic with the accomplishments you choose to highlight. You want to use them to demonstrate transferable skills, experiences, or personal qualities that aren’t obvious in the rest of your document. 

To better understand how to accomplish this, let’s take a look at these ten personal achievement examples. Hopefully, you can use them to inspire your own.

What are personal achievements?

Generally, an achievement is any previous success you’re proud of. This means anything from raising a family to earning a degree or overcoming a chronic illness. But when it comes to your CV, only highlight achievements that:

  1. Demonstrate your capacity to do the job at hand 
  2. Are based on specific, measurable results.

For example, a strong professional achievement could involve writing a new sales pitch at work that lead to a 50% increase in deals over your first year.

Personal achievements are, as the name suggests, successes in your personal life. These can include anything from building a house to running the Boston Marathon. In the context of your resume or a job interview, they should demonstrate your ability to:

  • Solve a problem. Managers want employees who can think critically and address organizational problems. Your personal mission to install an extra speed bump on your street shows that you’re able to identify problems (like dangerous driving) and take steps to address them.
  • Overcome a challenge. A defeatist mentality will surely lead to defeat. Personal achievements like running a marathon help prove your grit and can-do attitude to prospective employers.
  • Realize your goals. If you can achieve your personal goals, you can achieve professional ones. A fundraiser organized for your local recreation center shows you can set a target and make a plan to hit it.

The personal achievements on your CV would shine even brighter if you won an award or some form of recognition for them. Mentioning a prize in your job application isn’t boastful but instead shows that others recognize your contribution.

An award in community service proves your commitment and actions had a noticeable benefit on your collaborators and neighbors.

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Why highlight your personal achievements?

Your first instinct might be to exclude your personal achievements from a job application. Why should your personal life have any bearing on your professional one? But in reality, accomplishments outside of your day job can help you through the recruitment process. They can:

  • Help you land a job interview. Managers want employees with a track record of getting things done. Your list of achievements shows you’re more than capable of moving projects across the finish line.
  • Facilitate a career change. Personal side hustles help sharpen new skills before transitioning into a new job. If you currently write social media content but would rather produce SEO blog posts, freelancing as a part-time blog writer helps you gain experience before applying for full-time roles.

    Plus, a personal Instagram account with several thousand followers proves you’re doing something right. 
  • Land your first job after college. As a recent graduate, you may not have professional accomplishments to share yet. In this scenario, your personal and academic achievements become much more important.

    A person elected to student government or named to the Dean’s List every year of study will stand out from someone who coasted through their degree without doing much else.

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10 examples of achievements for a resume

You should be strategic when choosing achievements to put on a resume. Your personal accomplishments should highlight soft skills or hard skills you’ll use to fulfill job responsibilities. Your selections should also focus on results within a recent time frame, usually from the last year.

Here are some examples:

  1. Learned a new language. Not only is this a strong display of personal discipline, but it also can be useful for working with multi-lingual colleagues or clients.
  2. Earned a top GPA in a highly technical college program. Applying for your first job out of school is difficult. But acing your technical courses show you have the hard skills to be a great new employee.
  3. Launched a part-time freelance business or consultancy to develop new skills. This demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to self-development — valuable assets when applying to a role. 
  4. Organized an event to raise money for charity. Fundraisers are complicated affairs that involve a lot of people. This accomplishment demonstrates your teamwork and skills as a project manager.
  5. Earned a new degree or certification while working full-time. Returning to school as an adult requires commitment and hard work. Adding a new degree to your LinkedIn profile can help you earn a new job title later. 
  6. Helped a not-for-profit overcome its financial troubles. Pro bono work for other organizations helps establish you as a leader in your field and community.
  7. Traveled abroad to conduct academic research. International research requires funding. Plane tickets aren’t cheap, so your funders must have thought your study was important.
  8. Won a community service award for your volunteer hours. Awards are how groups recognize important people. Earning one for your community service shows you you know how to make an impact.
  9. Gave career advice to young professionals. Mentorship is an essential skill for a leader. Helping someone fulfill their potential can line you up for a manager job.
  10. Spoke on panels discussing issues facing your profession. Participating in industry conferences as a panelist or keynote speaker shows you’re a leader in your field.

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How to highlight accomplishments in a resume or job interview

Once you know the successes you want to highlight, you’ll have to learn how to talk about your achievements. For example, professional triumphs should pepper the Work Experience section of your resume.

And under each item, instead of simply listing your job responsibilities, list your biggest achievements in the role — “I exceeded sales targets every quarter since I started the position” sounds more impressive than  “I was responsible for meeting quarterly sales targets.”

However, personal accomplishments may not fit nicely in your “Work experience” section, meaning they’ll need their own headings elsewhere in the document:

  • Education and certificates. Here you can list all of your academic achievements and professional certifications.
  • Conferences. In this section, highlight the events where you gave a speech or sat on a panel. Even attending conferences might count if you participated in meaningful workshops or heard powerful lectures.

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  • Volunteer work. List fundraising activities or community service hours here.
  • Extracurriculars. For the recent graduates among you, list your involvement in student government, college sports teams, or other kinds of clubs.
  • Languages. Here you can mention the languages you know and the level at which you can write and speak them. 

You can also highlight your biggest achievements in your cover letter. Describing your involvement in key successes will set you apart from other candidates and make a good first impression on your recruiter.

Use strong language

Everywhere you mention your accomplishments, whether in your cover letter or your CV, make sure to use strong action verbs like “learned,” “delivered,” and “launched.” These words help connect you to the outcome, showing how your involvement led to the desired results. 

Here’s an example of weak language: “We organized an event that helped generate revenue for the hospital.” 

Here, we can’t tell how you contributed to the team. Even if you played a central role, this statement fails to demonstrate it to the reader.

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Let’s word it differently: “I planned and executed a fundraiser for the hospital, which generated almost $4000 for patient care.”

Now we know our involvement in the project (planning and execution) and what impact it had (raised $4000 for patient care). This is much clearer and more impressive for the reader.

Don’t sell yourself short

When creating your own ten personal achievement examples, remember the cardinal rule: focus on results. You want your employer to connect the dots between you and a positive outcome. Make it easy for them by detailing your successes.

Talk about how you woke up a 5 am every morning to train for a triathlon, sacrificed your Saturdays to mentor at-risk youth, or spent your evenings studying Spanish. Over time, these accomplishments add up. They should not only make you proud, but they’ll also make someone proud to hire you.

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Published October 24, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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