Looking to polish your resume or prep for your next interview? Then it’s time to start thinking in accomplishments. Whether you call them wins, successes, goals met, or even ‘slaying dragons’, learning to express your achievements in brief, comprehensive and quantifiable terms, is one of the best skills you can develop for your job search.
Just what are Accomplishments?
Accomplishments are anything you have achieved in your career, education or volunteer work. What an accomplishment is not, is a task. A task is just a piece of work, one that can be done well, or poorly, once or a thousand times. Simply listing what you do is never as effective as listing your achievements.
One key element that differentiates an accomplishment from a task, is that an accomplishment is quantifiable. That is to say, you should be able to demonstrate the value of your accomplishment, along with the time frame, and other important context.
- Task: Answer customer service calls on a daily basis.
- Achievement: Attained an average 97% customer service approval rating over a two year period.
See the difference?
Accomplishments can be quantified in percentages (approval rating, increase in sales/traffic, applications), dollar value (money earned, money saved, size of department or project budget managed), number of participants (staff, students, event attendees, trainees), or time (completed project before deadline, stayed at the top of a list). Other accomplishments may include awards, certifications completed, or selection for special projects or committees.
Example accomplishments statements:
- Recipient of the District Community Engagement Award in 2018
- Exceeded admissions goals by an average 20% every quarter in 2015.
- Published 4 scholarly articles in prominent online publications over a 6-month period.
- Organized quarterly volunteer events with upwards of 30 volunteers.
Accomplishments don’t have to be extraordinarily ambitious or world-changing. Your wins may seem small, but the format of expressing your work activities as accomplishments is still a very powerful one.
Accomplishment Statements In Your Resume/LinkedIn Profile
Brief accomplishment statements, like those listed above should be used throughout your resume and LinkedIn profile. The best or most relevant accomplishments can be highlighted in your summary section, while others can appear in your work experience. Remember, listing what you achieved is far more impactful than listing your daily tasks. Now, you may still wish to include tasks, particularly if they are the same as those listed in the job description of the position you’re aiming for and you don’t have a corresponding achievement. But whenever you can turn a task into an achievement, you should definitely do so.
Accomplishment Stories in your Interview
Pick four or five of your biggest accomplishments and learn them by heart – not just as brief statements, but as detailed stories. These are your go-to points in interviews, and will also come in handy when networking.
You should be able to describe each of your major accomplishments, from the beginning of the project to its completion, and answer detailed questions, like:
- What was the situation, before you got involved?
- What were the objectives?
- What resources did you have?
- What skills did you use?
- What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
- What was the outcome?
- What did you learn?
- How did you change?
- What would you do differently?
In an interview, these accomplishment stories are incredibly useful tools for answering a variety of questions. For example, if you are asked the old mainstay “what is your greatest strength”, rather than simply telling them about a strength, you can ‘show’ it to them by sharing a story. A single story may serve to demonstrate leadership ability, creativity, adaptability and so on. Whatever strength you need to demonstrate for that particular position, you can easily adapt one of your stories to fit. Asked about a time you overcame a challenge? No sweat, you’ll be ready. With minor adjustments, your four or five stories can serve in hundreds of situations.
Once you’ve prepared a list of accomplishments, both as brief, quantifiable statements, and as detailed stories, you’ll have an incredible resource that you can use throughout your career. You should also begin to think of your current work in terms of accomplishments, rather than daily tasks. Start gathering data and recording your achievements. Research which accomplishments would be useful for your future career plans, and go after them. The next time you change jobs or present yourself for a raise or promotion, you’ll be ready to impress.