Look back on 2012–now write it down!

Your accomplishments will help you land your next role.

Who knows what 2013 has in store for any of us professionally?  As you look back on last year, could you have predicted the opportunities that came your way, or the challenges you endured?

I know that in 2012, there were readers of this blog who…

  • were unexpectedly presented with an exciting career opportunity—either within or outside their place of employment.
  • decided (or needed) to return to professional life after a short or considerable time off.
  • graduated from school and began looking for work.
  • were laid off.

In this new year, there’s a good chance that one of the above may happen to you.  (If not this year, you know it will happen eventually.)  Don’t get caught unprepared, especially when you may have very little time before an interview!

Of the many things you can and should do to prepare for that eventuality, I believe tracking your accomplishments is the most important.

When it’s interview time, it’s not enough just to tell your prospective employers that you’ve got a given number of years in the field, or that you have the proper training or degree.  To  truly convince them you can do the job, you’ll have to tell them how you’ve applied that knowledge and experience.  The best way to do that is by telling stories that illustrate how, in the past, you’ve solved problems—or delivered outstanding results—relevant to your potential employer.

The message you want to send in an interview is, “I did it for them–I can do it for you.”

You’ll need an arsenal of succinct, compelling “accomplishment stories” ready to go for each interview (I coach my clients to have 15-25 to choose from).  Will your next job require you to do event management, budgets, strategic planning, team leadership, and training?  You’ve got to have one or more stories that demonstrate your successes in each of those areas!

We’ll discuss writing tips in our next blog entry—but for now, I want to encourage you to identify the stories that best demonstrate your expertise.   Here are two steps you can take to build your book of stories.  It’s a practice you should begin now and continue until, well, your retirement!

1.       Keep an accomplishments folder

Whether it’s an old-school folder in the filing drawer of your desk, or a digital folder on your computer, create a place where you can quickly drop the details of terrific workplace victories.

If you choose to track them digitally, be sure that they’re accessible outside of work.  I’ve seen too many people who have been laid off and instantly cut off from their work computers.  Save your stories in the cloud.

2.      Review your reviews and awards

Reviews are often a storehouse of your biggest accomplishments of the past year.  Add them to your accomplishment database.  Awards and other recognition, such as bonuses, can also provide fodder for compelling stories that demonstrate the results you can deliver.

Remember, not all accomplishments are obvious blockbusters (e.g. saved the company tens of thousands of dollars).  I had a client who had been laid off from her job as a receptionist at a telecommunications firm.  What did she accomplish the time she told a visitor to put out his cigarette?  She showed initiative, enforced company policy, and upheld the organization’s image, to name just a few!

The entire Global team joins me in wishing you an accomplishment-filled 2013.   We stand ready as always to help you achieve those goals.