how to start tracking your work accomplishments for resume use

A Step-by-Step Guide to Tracking Your Work Accomplishments for Resume Use

Employers are, first and foremost, interested in results. They want to know that the people they employ can do the job and help them achieve their business goals. Before they are hired, preferably. This is especially true when the employees are remote or hybrid. Lower levels of supervision and support in a remote work environment can quickly lead to miscommunication, confusion, and mistakes by new employees.

If you’re looking for a remote position, the most effective way to convey that you are the right person for the job is by communicating your accomplishments. Unfortunately for many job seekers, they don’t think about their accomplishments until it comes time to create, rewrite, or update their resume. This often results in achievements being overlooked, important data missing, and opportunities lost.

So, if you are looking for a quick and easy guide to identifying, tracking, and using your accomplishments to your best advantage, keep reading.

Step 1: Learn to Identify Your Accomplishments for Resume Use

The first thing to do when tracking accomplishments for resume and interview use is learning to identify your accomplishments. This is trickier than it seems because it’s important to be objective. Don’t overlook a potential achievement because you don’t think it’s important enough. Also, try not to overinflate an activity based on your personal viewpoint. Your current/potential employer is who you’re trying to impress here. What will that person think is important?

Try asking yourself the following questions to get started:

  • In what areas do I excel in my performance appraisals?
  • Where do I go above and beyond, assisting outside of my job scope?
  • When am I recognized and praised by supervisors, customers, and coworkers?

Step 2: Develop a Process to Help Track Your Accomplishments

It’s not enough to identify an accomplishment, it also needs to be documented. Memories are fallible, and files and data get lost and left behind when you change jobs. Having a system in place to capture your accomplishments as they happen is the best investment of time you can make in your career.

The system you develop needs to be quick and easy, one that captures all the necessary data without being cumbersome and overly detailed. You can write down your wins on scraps of paper and put them in a big jar, create a list on a big white board in your office, or keep a digital spreadsheet. Whatever works best for you.

Step 3: Capture and Record the Most Important Information

Knowing what information to record is another critical element in tracking accomplishments for resume use. It’s easy to be too brief, returning to the accomplishment only to realize you forgot vital elements. It’s also easy to include too much information, adding unnecessary details and going on tangents. A brief paragraph should be enough to capture the most valuable information.

One way to make sure you have the information you need is to follow the ‘PAR’ method. ‘PAR’ stands for problem, action, and results. When tracking accomplishments for resume use, the PAR method includes the following steps:

  • Identify the responsibility, goal, or issue at work (the problem)
  • Explain how you addressed the problem (the action)
  • Summarize the outcomes or impact of the action (the results)

The number one problem people have when it comes to tracking their accomplishments is gathering data to illustrate success. For each one you identify, also identify what metrics you can use to measure your progress. Accomplishments for resume use can be measured based on a variety of metrics:

  • Results/Outcomes. This would be dollars earned or saved, the amount sold, or problems solved. These are the most impressive metrics because they illustrate you have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.
  • Scale. This refers to numbers that indicate the extent of your responsibilities. For example, how many people you manage, how many clients you serve, or how much money is in your budget. Scale metrics are most impactful when you can show progress, such as increasing the number of people you manage.
  • Timeframe. These metrics are used to measure accomplishments regarding volume and efficiency. Examples include how many phone calls you respond to daily, or how many months you finished a project ahead of schedule.

Many times, your employer will collect all this data for you. Other times, success can be more difficult to quantify. If you are unable to attach a number or percentage to your achievements, you can use more general terms to indicate your accomplishments. For example, you “increased” efficiency by implementing a new filing system. You can also provide estimates if you feel comfortable. For instance, you “reduced file retrieval time approximately 50% by implementing a new filing system.”

Step 5: Rewrite Your Accomplishments for Maximum Impact

Now that you are collecting and recording the right information, you need to use it to craft impactful statements for your resume. Using the PAR information, the ideal structure for an accomplishment statement is to begin with the results followed by critical context that illustrates why the results are important. Numbers alone do not tell the story. Selling $100,000 worth of products is only impressive when you explain that you doubled sales in six months.

When deciding what accomplishments to highlight on your resume, you will also benefit from researching your target positions to identify common job requirements. This is because the achievements that are most important in your current position may not impress your next employer. Remember, your potential employer is interested in proof that you can do the job they are hiring for, not that you can do your current job.  

Examples of common mistakes people make when writing resume accomplishments include the following:

Sounds Like Job duty or Responsibility

Wrong: Short-term engagements included digital forensics investigations with one cyber incident response involving inappropriate use and Intellectual property theft.

Right: Resolved a critical cyber incident by conducting an effective digital forensic investigation to uncover inappropriate use of digital resources and intellectual property theft.

Burying the Lead

Wrong: Planned and executed a digital marketing campaign to introduce a new product line that resulted in sales exceeding targets within two months.

Right: Exceeded sales targets within two months by planning and executing an innovative and effective digital marketing campaign.

Not Providing Context

Wrong: Achieved sales of $1.2M.

Right: Achieved sales of $1.2M in 2021, a 20% increase over 2020, because of deepening relationships with current clients to expand contracted services.

Too Long or Wordy

Wrong: Worked on the adaptivity of the clinic intranet by completing content updates for individual units and departments with news, content, updated information and standard forms that benefited each team. Used the Intranet platform to communicate organization-wide news as well as developed a safety page with important guidelines for clinical and support teams in the organization.

Right: Enhanced the clinic intranet by updating the content for individual units, communicating organization-wide news, and developing a safety page with important guidelines for clinical teams.

Additional examples of accomplishments can be found in many online resources.

Step 6: Create STAR Stories from Your Accomplishments

Another use for your accomplishment information is to create engaging stories to tell during behavioral interviews, sometimes called STAR interviews. Increasingly, an individual’s hireability is evaluated based on how they respond to situations. Some of this information is gleaned from the accomplishments you listed on your resume. However, during the interview, you are expected to expand on these accomplishments.

The best way to flesh out your accomplishments into engaging stories is to use a classic 5-step storytelling approach that involves the following:

  • Introduce the problem.
  • Describe the initial situation.
  • Identify and describe the key insight that helped you solve the problem.
  • Explore the problem further.
  • Explore the solution.

Using the steps outlined above, spend a little time every month to update your list of accomplishments for resume use. Create impactful statements and craft engaging stories about your successes. The time you devote now will save you time in the future. It could also be key to securing the job of your dreams.

Which of these steps do you think are critical to tracking achievements? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

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