Provide results with context.
The single biggest mistake people make when it comes to sharing their accomplishments is providing results without context. Saying that you grew revenue by 15 percent without noting the market conditions or goals doesnâ€™t say much.
In other words, you havenâ€™t answered the question, â€œSo what?â€
How did your approach compare to what the average person might have done? This is an important point many people miss.
Without the benefit of a parallel universe in which to test our theoretical comparisons, this may be difficult to assess with any accuracy. Nevertheless, the temptation on the part of many humble souls is to believe that anyone faced with the same facts and challenges would have done the same thing. Not necessarily.
Why didnâ€™t anyone think of this sooner? People may have recognized the problem or opportunity. They may even have come up with a way to address the issue. But if they didnâ€™t take action, the insight is meaningless. Ideas are everywhere. Credit rightfully goes to the people who make things happen.
Converting your accomplishments into the STARs format will solve this problem.
What was the Situation?
What was your specific role or Task?
What Action did you take?
What were the Results?
What was the Situation?
This is where you explain what the real problem (or opportunity) was, why it was a problem, how long it had been a problem and what might have happened had the problem not been addressed.
How and when did it become apparent that there was an issue?
What was your specific role or task? Describe your role. How did you find yourself in a position to address the issue? Were you selected? Appointed? Elected? If you were selected or appointed, what was the title of the person who appointed you? Did you volunteer? Did you take on the project on your own initiative?
What action did you take?
How did you address the problem? What specific steps did you take?
What were the results?
This part is relatively straightforward, since it requires quantifiable evidence of your effectiveness. The biggest mistake people make in this area is limiting their thinking to dollars saved or earned. Money is just one quantifier. Challenge yourself to incorporate the other five:
(By the way, if you canâ€™t imagine how safety and compliance apply to you, donâ€™t worry. They probably donâ€™t.)
In some cases, the quantifiers may not be obvious.
For example, one receptionist we coached insisted there was no way to quantify her accomplishments. On the surface, that would appear to be true. After all, it isnâ€™t helpful, or particularly enlightening, to say, â€œI smiled at 87 percent of the people who walked in the door.â€ However, when I probed further, she revealed that her company, on three separate occasions, had eliminated her entire division. Each time, she was hand-picked by the executive team and became the only employee to survive the layoffs. From a potential employerâ€™s point of view, that quantifier is like a third-party endorsement that says:
â€œSheâ€™s great. Thatâ€™s why we went out of our way to keep her.â€
As you may notice, this isnâ€™t about bragging; itâ€™s about evidence. People who come across as braggarts are the ones who canâ€™t offer anything other than glowing generalities with no â€œreasons to believe.â€
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