by Rick Gillis
An excerpt from his book, Job! Learn How to Find Your Next Job In 1 Day.
(Read our review of the book here.)
"How did I make a difference?"
Your ability to answer that question, first for yourself and then for potential employers, is key to your professional success.
In today's competitive workplace, it is not enough to know how to do the job. You must be able to convince a recruiter or hiring manager that you will bring value to your next employer's company. Until someone can verify that you can walk the walk (known as the probationary period), you had better be able to talk the talk to get a chance to prove yourself.
You already know your own story (or stories) that will lead you your next opportunity. You just need to uncover them.
The Accomplishments Worksheet
Your Accomplishments Worksheet is a formal job-search document, as important as your resume. While your resume's sole purpose is to initiate an introduction between you and someone interested in hiring you, the Accomplishments Worksheet, offered at the right moment, serves an equally important purpose. The Accomplishments Worksheet more fully depicts you as a complete package in a manner that a resume is not designed to do.
Your goal in crafting a dynamic Accomplishments Worksheet, regardless of your age and experience, is to identify, at minimum, four exceptional professional achievements -- each one relevant to what you do in your field of expertise.
If you are the CEO of a multinational corporation, you should be able to pull your accomplishments from all those articles they wrote about you in Bloomberg Business Week or The Wall Street Journal.
As an administrative assistant or a skilled-trades professional, your accomplishments will focus on how you added value as a result of your ability to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
Accomplishments Part One: From Memory
Accomplishments come from two places. The first is from you -- right out of your memory.
Begin compiling your accomplishments by taking out paper and pen or opening up a computer document and just start typing away. The best place to start is your work history; get out that resume you need to update for this job-search.
Go through each job entry and recall all the things you are proud of, things that made a difference, added value to the company. Did you increase sales? Find a way to shorten the time to market? Improve an inventory system? Were you involved in crafting a successful marketing plan or developing a piece of software? Keep writing. It doesn't matter how many accomplishments you have -- the more, the better.
For now, write down the entire story associated with each accomplishment -- what you did, how you did it, and how the company benefitted from your effort. This is rich training for interviewing and it's a great motivational exercise to build personal confidence.
Accomplishments Part Two: Colleagues' Memories
The next step is one of the most important in the process. It will take more time and more effort than part one, but because the accomplishments come from other people, it is even more rewarding.
Reach out to family, fellow students, former co-workers, supervisors, bosses, and colleagues. Ask each of them if they can recall a time when they were involved in a work activity with you when you did something that made an impact on them. The responses will work to jog your memory about other things you've forgotten. Other times, the answers will surprise you as people recount how you impressed them.
As the stories come in, write them down on your growing list, including, as in part one, what you did, how you did it, and what the result was for the company.
Three Components of a Great Accomplishment
Every good book, movie, TV show, or song has a beginning, a middle, and an end that brings the story or idea to a satisfying conclusion. So, too, does a well-written accomplishment. The only difference is that we will call the conclusion of an accomplishment a net result -- the part that indicates how you made a difference and why an employer should take a chance by placing you on the payroll.
Here's an example for a paralegal who created a unique filing system:
Beginning: Created a filing system
Middle: resulting in
End/Net Result: 300 hours saved per week
What if you can't quantify the accomplishment? Use powerful, descriptive language to show your value:
Beginning: Created a filing system
Middle: that resulted in
End/Net Result: a more managed and efficient delivery of client files to attorneys and support staff.
Final Thoughts on Job-Seeker Accomplishments
You may think you are just another cog in the wheel of a great machine -- but if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing -- and doing it well -- that is a justifiable accomplishment.
Finally, remember too that accomplishments can come from outside your work experiences -- from volunteer work, hobbies, civic involvement, and the like. And recent college grads can pull accomplishments from their college experiences.
Additional Job-Seeker Accomplishments Links
Here are some additional resources on Quintessential Careers dealing with accomplishments:
- For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments
- Accomplishments Worksheet
- Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career
Career and Work Accomplishments Section of Quintessential Careers
Find expert job-seeker accomplishments tools, resources, samples -- free expert advice about maximizing career accomplishments in this section of Quintessential Careers: Career-Job-Work Accomplishments Resources for Job-Seekers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.