What is Achievement?

What is Achievement?

What is Achievement? Jonathan Poland

Achievements are the results of efforts that have produced positive outcomes. These outcomes can range from resounding successes to partial failures that have unexpectedly led to benefits. It’s important to note that not all efforts are achievements – an identifiable positive outcome is required for something to be considered an achievement. Achievements are relative to a person’s talents, opportunities, role, and powers. For example, what might be considered an achievement for one person might not be considered an achievement for another person with different talents, opportunities, etc. The following are some examples.

Revenue
Increasing revenue or a metric that maps to revenue such as conversion rate. A primary type of work achievement.

  • Optimized design of site to improve conversion rate by 17%.
  • Closed monthly recurring revenue of $1.4 million in the quarter.
  • Launched a streaming media service that produced $44 million in revenue in its first year.

Cost
Reducing overhead or unit costs.

  • Partnered with local farmers to reduce the cost of organic ingredients by 12%.
  • Eliminated inefficient and legacy software packages to streamline processes and reduce recurring license costs by $72,000 a year.
  • Developed an algorithm that shipped orders by the cheapest delivery partner for a given timeline, destination and package. Decreased delivery costs by $742 a day.

Productivity
Producing more in an hour of work.

  • Created a client proposal template that reduced proposal development time by 10%.
  • Reengineered the billing process to set up bills in 4 business hours. This was a large improvement over the longstanding process that took at least 3 business days.
  • Implemented a process of assembling frame elements in the shop for delivery to the worksite. This reduced construction time by 20 days for a $4.8 million job with a hard deadline.

Efficiency
Improving the value obtained from resources.

  • Installed an automatic lighting system that reduced electricity consumption by 8%.
  • Experimented with companion plantings to improve the yield of our school’s vegetable garden by 30%.

Management
The process of managing people, processes and projects.

  • Recruited a team of 11 Engineers in less than 4 weeks to jumpstart an aggressive development schedule.
  • Scaled up production by 400% in two years to meet demand by launching 4 new production lines.
  • Cleared issues and pushed team to turnaround a $32 million IT project that was 4 weeks behind schedule. Achieved full closure of project to client satisfaction.

Agent of Change
Changes that you sponsored or executed.

  • Sponsored an initiative to implement strict privacy controls on customer data. Decreased information security incidents related to customer data from 281 per annum to zero.
  • Reached out to local chefs to help us improve school lunches to be more healthy for students. Increased vegetables by 30% and decreased sugar and simple starches by 22% in lunches provided by the school.

Customer
Improving things for the customer or your internal clients.

  • Improved order turnaround time to less than 8 hours, an improvement of 40% by semi-automating order picking.
  • Retired unpopular design features and streamlined product to improve rankings in ecommerce channels from 3.1 to 4.3 stars.
  • Built deep relationships with customers and quickly acted on issues and inquiries to reduce churn rate by 70%.

Work Quality
Doing your job at an unusual level of quality or diligence.

  • Delivered high quality carpentry to achieve high rankings with customers and a low callback rate. Received less than 15 callbacks on thousands of service calls.
  • Delivered high quality patient care with no complaints or issues over my 10 years at _________ hospital.
  • Delivered creative graphics working closely with clients to achieve a 97% client acceptance rate for corporate logos.

Adversity
Dealing with challenges, obstacles and problems that others do not face.

  • Helped to care for a sick family member for approximately 22 hours a week while also studying hard to achieve an A average at school.

Awards & Recognition
Listing any recognition you have received from organizations, teams and institutions.

  • Won salesperson of the year in 2026 and 2028 with the highest sales in the entire firm.
  • Awarded the ____ scholarship by achieving a GPA of 3.8.
  • Awarded the hotel’s leadership award by championing an initiative to increase upsell revenue with a visual that shows customer’s available room upgrades.

Academic
Academic achievements such as degrees and awards. You can also include achievements related to school activities, academic contests, research projects and special accomplishments related to your academic career.

  • Graduated from University with a B.S. in Physics.
  • Made the honor roll with a GPA of 3.9.
  • Improved in the subject I find most challenging, Mathematics, by sticking to an ambitious study schedule. Increased my grade from 60% in grade 11 to 92% in grade 12.
  • Won the state robotics competition and placed 4th in the national competition.
  • Founded the school’s first ever chess club and recruited 6 members.
  • Developed a revolutionary algorithm for an AI committee machine that has received approximately 500 citations less than two years since publication.

Personal Achievements
Achievements in any area of your life including interests, hobbies, sports, cultural participation, volunteering, school and community life. These need not be measurable.

  • Cycled from the UK to Ukraine in 3 months.
  • Organized and lead a dance team of 80 dancers to participate in three traditional festivals each year. Won second place in a contest with 120 teams.
  • Served as captain of the hockey team and scored 23 goals in the 2027 season.
  • Started a painting business that employed 22 students each summer.
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