How to highlight hidden talents on your CV …..

Home / News / How to highlight hidden talents on your CV …..

Listing facts and figures on your CV can earn an interview but there are also ways of showing off less tangible successes.
John Lees helps answer your employment questions (Picture: Metro)
Are you having a problem putting CV advice into practice?
Do you realise the need to write about tangible achievements but don’t know how to?

"I’m supposed to be quoting hard facts and figures,’ ‘but all my achievements come from using soft skills so I can’t quote numbers to prove I was successful."

Realising that achievement stories make candidates stand out will put you ahead of the game. An industry commisioned survey looked at the things employers want to see when reading a CV and found that four out of five find it useful to view a summary of career highlights and achievements on page one.

Start by listing as many achievements as you can, taken from work, learning or hobbies. Go through old work logs or ask colleagues to remind you of times when you made a difference, added value or introduced new thinking or methods.

Look at your last job description. In what ways have you redefined the job or delivered more than was expected? Think of times when you faced obstacles – perhaps a time when you helped retain a key customer or averted a quality-control disaster. Don’t hesitate to add achievements from your studies or life outside work.

Step two is to provide measures wherever you can. Mention targets, sales figures, numbers of any kind that indicate the scale of your projects. Point to tangible cost savings. Use percentages to show growth or change.

What about less tangible outcomes? Many candidates such as Rachel find it hard to communicate what they have achieved using soft skills including negotiation, persuasion and communication. You might talk about improving staff retention by helping others to grow and develop, or making teams work better, or persuading people to change. If you can’t quantify using numbers, tell the story of your results – such as ‘maintained team morale during a difficult takeover’ or ‘managed a number of difficult public meetings’.

Now pick the best seven to nine achievements to include in your CV as bullet points, beginning with action words (‘Initiated’, ‘Managed’, ‘Designed’) and varying the length.
Mentioning organisation names helps the reader relate these points to your work experience, and presenting your ‘Key Skills & Achievements’ directly after your profile transforms your CV from a dull documentary into a lively trailer for what you might say at interview.

If you’re asked for evidence at interview, don’t just repeat the achievements documented in your CV. Go back to your original master list for back-up evidence. Learn how to tell achievement stories with the same brevity and impact that they have in writing – rehearse a simple three-part structure (situation, contribution, outcome) so that each story showcases your skills.
Why do achievements matter? Because although we remember evidence, stories stick in the memory longer. Finding fresh ways of describing what you do best will also shorten your job search time.

John Lees is author of The Interview Expert (Prentice Hall). For free career tips and details of his workshops, see John will be speaking about job hunting in London tonight. See

Read more: