Time to Toot Your Own Horn
Make Life Easier: Track Your Career Accomplishments!
Track your accomplishments. When writing a resume and asking to make it accomplishment based, most people have a difficult time. They rattle off a long list of duties and feel that they've achieved the goal. That just isn't enough.
Duties are comparable for everyone that holds a similar title. Focusing solely on the day-to-day tasks does nothing to set you apart in the eyes of a potential employer. They know what you do and don't need you to tell them about the role they are trying to fill. What they want to know is how you took your role and ran with it: How you made it your own, found ways to make the role more productive, and how you added value to the company. Please know if you did not do any of those things, and you just pushed the button every day, writing an accomplishment-based resume and setting yourself apart is going to be very difficult. If you are someone that has taken steps to make life better, to improve business and make things more efficient for everyone, you want to be able to articulate that on your resume.
My advice to anyone that is working is to keep a running list, spreadsheet, or journal throughout your career that helps you keep track of what you've done for each employer. Brag about your accomplishments; record the numbers and results of your contributions, new processes you implemented, sales you brought in, etc. Whatever is relevant to your role. I promise, no one else will sing your praises from the rooftop! Your career is one place where you have to be your own cheerleader. This will be critical in articulating your value on a resume, in interviewing, and negotiating raises. Unlike the majority of your peers, you will be able to provide concrete examples of what you've done in a way that most struggle to do.
If you're just starting out in your career, this is the perfect time to start building your list, or what I have recently heard called a 'win book’. It can be difficult in the beginning, but every victory is a victory. If you're later in your career, go back and jot down some notes from past roles you had, whatever you can remember, and then start tracking as you go forward. It all sounds easy in theory, but it's something you need to add to your arsenal and taking the time to do it will make the difference. Set a reminder on your calendar to take 10 minutes to make this happen on a regular basis. Make this a habit. Everyone is always looking for something to give them a leg up; this is one of those things.
There's nothing worse than being asked in an interview for a specific example of the way you've improved a process or handled a challenging situation and you sit there and scratch your head because you can't think of one on the spot. You know there's so many things you've done over your career but nothing is popping into your mind. The pressure and nerves collapse in on you as you grapple to come up with an answer to get you out of the hot seat. That's the same expression I see when I ask people what accomplishments we can add to the resume to quantify their success. This is the way to avoid that debilitating moment!
Here is a list of the types of items you should undoubtedly track:
· The times you've been promoted
· When you won an award, even if it's just Employee of the Month or something of that nature, it counts!
· Keep track of when you've fixed a process for your department or found a way to save money and/or time
· Discovered a way to improve customer service or experience
· Found a new client that brought in a large stream of revenue
· If you're in sales, keep track of your quotas each year, how quickly you hit them, how much new business you generated, how many accounts you managed, etc.
· Any specific projects you managed and the results/outcomes
· Professional development and continuing education courses you have completed to enhance your skills
· Save copies of performance reviews and letters from customers thanking you for your exceptional service, these are valuable assets
Don't worry if the victories seem small to you or not "major" achievements, they all add up to provide a well-rounded picture of the employee you are and these ‘little’ details are the proof. These things add up on a resume and believe me; most people are not taking the time to track or to articulate this type of value. Take the step now, no matter where you are in your career. You'll thank me later.