Understanding our professional value and then successfully communicating that value to the right people in the right way, is quintessential to both creating interest in and differentiating ourselves within the talent marketplace. When developing our personal marketing strategy, the challenge is that we don’t truly appreciate the bandwidth or accumulation of knowledge and skills that was necessary to attain our current positions. We are unconsciously competent. We’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for a long time; we are good at it and don’t necessarily think about our abilities – We just do it. So when it comes to developing our narratives of accomplishments, we often have a difficult time unearthing what exactly we did, how we did it and what the results and contributions of our efforts actually were.
When transitioning into a new career, the goal at a minimum is to make a lateral move or ideally to capitalize on the skills, experience and knowledge we’ve accrued in our current position to secure a higher level one. We need to be able to communicate all of our experiences and skills so that our career goals come to fruition. Compounding this, many of us have core beliefs or general discomfort ‘tooting our own horns’ and letting people know how good we are at our professions. We have been led to believe that this is arrogant and off-putting. While in many instances this is true, when it comes to selling ourselves, if we don’t do it then who will?
It is key that we know where our areas of strength and competence lie, whether they be in customer service, project management, business development or electronic wizardry. There are amyriad of assessments that assist people in building awareness of their personal and professional attributes. Once these areas of expertise and competence have been identified, we can begin to develop our narrative of accomplishment within each of them. Specifically, what was the problem or circumstance that compelled me to take action? What was the process by which I handled the situation? Finally, what was the result that came from those efforts? Through this process a more thorough understanding of the full impact of our contributions to an organization emerges. Clients I have led through this exercise have said to me, “Wow! I had no idea I had this much to offer!” There is nothing like a little clarity to square one’s shoulders and add confidence to a career search.
These accomplishment narratives serve as our success stories. Through them we can effectively brand and merchandise ourselves. Ideally, they are succinct, powerful and keep us from rambling on and on in an interview, informational meeting or networking event.
Additionally, accomplishment narratives are the building blocks for our resumes and cover letters. We want to be able to extract value statements from them that serve as bullet points showcasing where we excel. They are based on action and results. Action + Results = Value.
Example of an achievement narrative
Developed and executed profitability improvement plans that achieved double-digit revenue growth and bottom-line improvements in the car and truck rental markets. Implemented an objective-driven team approach with a strong focus on accountability and performance management at all levels of responsibility.
Results: Doubled market share, increasing profits by 30% and annual revenue growth by 20% – 25%. Improved fleet utilization by 87% annually. Highest profitability of all Canadian markets in 2002. Improved profitability in Vancouver by 75% in 2009.
Examples of Value and Accomplishment Statements
There are different ways to present the value in an achievement narrative. The three statements below are all developed from the achievement narrative in the above example.
Utilized an objective-driven team focus to target profitability initiatives, resulting in doubled market share, increased profits of 30% and annual revenue growth of 20% – 25%.
Focused on accountability and performance management at all levels of responsibility, achievingdouble-digit revenue growth and bottom-line improvements in the car and truck rental markets.
Developed and executed profitability improvement plans through an objective-driven team approach with a strong focus on accountability and performance management at all levels of responsibility, improving profitability in Vancouver by 75% in 2009.