Speaking about accomplishments

The Career Coach Career Coach

Today’s question for the Career Coach:

I don’t know how to speak about my accomplishments.  I just do my job.  How do I talk about accomplishments when I am not sure what they are?

The Career Coach says:

Most people don’t think of what they do as true accomplishments, but they are.  Are you doing a good job at work?  Has your supervisor or colleague ever praised you for something you worked on?  Have you ever been really proud of something you have done?  Chances are, these are based on your accomplishments.  Here are a few examples:

  • Figured out a faster method of retrieving data.
  • Wrote a recommendation for how to reach a greater number of clients through technology.
  • Received two promotions within three years.
  • Volunteered to participate on a task force that helped improve department processes and saved 15% of time for the team.

Accomplishments do not have to be work related.  I once asked a new employee, who had little work experience, to tell me what she was proud of.  She told me about a Thanksgiving dinner she prepared for her large family of 18 people.  She said she served the dinner on time and all the food was hot and tasty.  You might not think of that as a great accomplishment since many of us do this annually, but think about the skills it takes to get a dinner for 18 on the table at the same time.  It takes creativity to determine what to cook, planning the menu, the food needed to purchase, the time to shop and cook, and organizing to have the right dishes and utensils on the table, serving dishes, etc.  These are transferrable skills…that can and are used in the workplace. Think of these same skills and others that you use every day.

Now pair these skills with what you are proud of and where you think you made a difference for your department, clients, colleagues, or others.  These are your accomplishments.

In order to begin to articulate them, start by listing these experiences as they pop into your head.  Consider anything you enjoyed doing and did well, are proud of and satisfied with.  Then select one to three accomplishments for each job you have had.  Use the STAR model (situation, task, action and result) suggested in our last post, and explain the situation, describe the task were you responsible for, the action you took to resolve the situation, and what your work resulted in for the organization.  Think of the skills you used to accomplish your task.

Be proud of it and you will be able to speak to it in your annual performance review, a job application, a resume, or in an interview.  Good luck!


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