Awesome Accomplishments: 50+ Questions to Ask Yourself and Figure Out What You've Done
Figuring out what you've accomplished at work is essential to demonstrating your value to employers and clients. Though some people are keenly aware of their accomplishments (a sales representative, for example, can usually tell me how much she increased sales or how many new accounts he landed), others stumble. Often, these other folks have made great contributions, but don't have highly visible results.
Here are 50+ questions to jumpstart the process of articulating awesome accomplishments. Use them to help write your resume, elaborate on why you are the perfect candidate for a position, or create talking points for a presentation.
To get warmed up or just to stir your recollection, ask yourself:
- What were things* like when you started your new job and how did they improve while you were there? (*the condition of the company, division, department, etc.)
- How is your performance measured and did you reach any performance targets? (You don't have to mention the ones that you missed, if any; but rather highlight the targets you met and/or exceeded.)
- What did your boss say he/she wanted you to achieve when you were hired?
- What do you feel you've accomplished, regardless of what your current boss or colleagues may think? (Note: working in a dysfunctional workplace isn't considered a noteworthy or resume-worthy accomplishment but showing results in difficult economic situations or during major leadership changes can be)
What amazing actions did you take? Did you:
- open new accounts?
- establish new channels of distribution?
- create an infrastructure for any function(s)?
- design and/or implement standard operating procedures?
- develop the professional capabilities of people who were then promoted to positions of greater accountability and/or who outperformed peers?
- add new products or streamline SKUs?
- originate new merchandise categories?
- increase inventory turns?
- develop or strengthen vendor partnerships?
- establish a VMI (vendor-managed inventory) program?
- launch a new brand?
- start a private label?
- develop a training program?
- more closely define customer preferences?
- initiate and/or manage a major project?
- renegotiate contracts?
- reengineer business processes?
- restructure organizations?
- write or redesign job descriptions?
- reach new audiences?
- grow subscribers or membership base?
- improve the accuracy of sales forecasts?
- start a new division?
- grow your referral base?
- begin sourcing or production in a new region or country?
- start outsourcing tasks?
- expand your presence to a new geographic territory?
- establish quality standards?
- institute quality review processes?
- create a vendor scorecard?
- start evaluating vendor performance?
- initiate vendor chargebacks?
- write an employee or vendor manual?
- design forms or templates?
- introduce and/or direct programs that resulted in regulatory compliance or achievement of certain industry standards?
- expand or consolidate your vendor base?
- accelerate product development?
- implement new technology-based solutions or lead technology integrations?
- win support from internal or external groups?
- create a reference library or archives of key information?
- accelerate month-end reporting?
- tighten financial or operational controls?
- improve inventory accuracy?
- decrease order-to-delivery lead times or speed-to-market times?
- design and/or institute order tracking or call tracking systems?
- start a safety program?
- introduce new employee benefits or incentive programs?
- inaugurate new invoicing procedures or payment methods?
- equip employees for new or expanded assignments?
- automate a process previously performed manually?
- eliminate unnecessary or redundant processes?
- design a business continuity plan?
- speed up collections?
- get rid of unprofitable product lines or customer accounts?
- align services with customer requirements?
- do something else?
As a result of these actions, did you
- increase sales?
- reduce costs?
- improve profits?
- grow market share?
- increase service levels?
- achieve better quality or consistency?
- reduce customer returns?
- improve safety and/or reduce risk?
- speed up cash flow?
- reduce debt load?
- boost productivity?
- lower employee turnover?
- reverse business losses or declining trends?
- improve company's reputation?
- elevate sustainability?
- position the company for future growth?
Use these questions to brainstorm and then start defining your accomplishments. You can take this process to a higher level by defining the challenges you may have faced; for example: you may have been hired amid a public scandal, pending lawsuit, or major competitive threat.
Many people wonder about the line that separates duties and company expectations from real accomplishments. A few months ago, for example, I spoke with someone who had delivered double-digit improvements to his work area but because these stellar results were "expected" by the company, he hadn't deemed them worthy of an official accomplishment. So, the line between accountabilities and accomplishments is not always crystal clear -- figure out what's typical in your field and show how you excelled.