6 times when an accomplishment list can be useful


For awhile now I’ve been telling my workshop attendees to put together an accomplishment list. I’ve been waiting for just one of them to ask me if I have one. And I’ve had the sinking feeling of being like Dante in the eight circle of hell suffering along with the hypocrites.

For those who are unfamiliar with an accomplishment list, it’s a number of outstanding achievements you’ve accumulated over the course of your career—but not exceeding 10 to 15 years of work history. It should be broken down into occupations, positions, or skill areas, or you can compile a list of accomplishments that reflect one occupation.

1. Networking meetings. Most believe they should bring a résumé to a networking meeting, but an accomplishment list could be more useful, given that a generic résumé will not impress the interviewer. Let’s say the person with whom you’re speaking mentions that the many of the company employees expressed dissatisfaction in their responsibilities.

On your accomplishment list is: “Reduced turnover by 50% and increased employee satisfaction by implementing a program that facilitated cross-training in various departments.”

2. Networking. Bringing your accomplishment list to networking events for job seekers will serve you well. You won’t cite all your accomplishments when you’re standing at the front of the room during a “needs and leads” session but telling the group about your best accomplishment will leave a lasting impression in their minds.

“At Acme Company I volunteered to lead computer training for people who were struggling with SAP. My patient, yet thorough, style of training enabled all the trainees to understand the program in a week’s time, thus increasing their production.”

3. Interviews. Why not make your accomplishment list part of your portfolio? Chances are you’ve included the necessary job-related accomplishments on your résumé—and you’ve explained them during the meeting—but there may be other accomplishments that could contribute to your candidacy. Your list might be the tie-breaker.

Before the interview, expand on the accomplishments by explaining the whole story using the STAR formula. Your accomplishments talk about the action and result/s, but you’ll need to tell the whole story, particularly when answering behavioral-based questions.

4. Telephone interviews. Telephone interviews are also a great time to share your accomplishments. Because the interviewer can’t see you, your list will be by your side where you can see it. The interviewer asks if there’s anything you’d like to add.

You say, “I would be remiss in not mentioning that I excel in writing. In fact, when technical document was needed, sales would often come to me for easy-to-understand documentation on our products.”

5. Writing your marketing documents. An accomplishment list is extremely useful to have at hand when writing a résumé and cover letter. Some of my customers are writing a résumé for the first time in 20 years.

Should they write the Summary Statement first? Probably not. It’s easier to structure your Summary around your accomplishments, not the other way around.

I advise my customers to write at least five accomplishments having to do with increasing sales, saving money, increasing efficiency, solving problems, effective management, or other ways they’ve helped the company/organization.

6. When you’re employed. Often we overlook accomplishments we’ve achieved at work. The best time to compile your accomplishment list is when you’re working and the accomplishments are fresh in your mind. Every time you do something outstanding, write it down.

Asking for a raise? You better be able to justify a 10 percent increase. Bring your list with you to refer to. Chances are your boss knows what kind of great work you’ve done, but does she know you scored 97% on your evaluations?

I’m glad to say that, I now have an accomplishment list that spans no more than 10 years, most of them within the last five. Now when one of my workshop attendees asks, “So, Bob, do you have an accomplishment list?” I can smile and be assured that I’m saved from the eighth ring of Dante’s Inferno.

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Photo: Flickr, dtn305

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