Submitted by: Robert Benway, EdD; MBA, CCC Volunteer Career Coach and Assistant Professor at National Lewis University

Hiring directors are interested in the job candidate’s accomplishments, not as much his/her responsibilities.  Responsibilities are statements that explain what the employee is expected to do.  Accomplishments are statements that explain the results of what the employee actually did in carrying out his/her responsibilities.  Job seekers often do not really know how to write effective accomplishment statements, I’ve found.  In fact, they often don’t think they’ve accomplished much; however, I think they usually sell themselves short.  This blog entry explains how to write an accomplishment statement, and also explains how to identify accomplishments. 

Writing an accomplishment statement usually requires one sentence with 3 parts. 

The first part is an action verb such as: {increased, decreased, improved, created, or many others}. 
The second part is a phrase explaining what you did.  For example: Decreased {sick leave on the night shift by revamping the schedule in accordance with the collective suggestions made by the night shift staff}. 
The third part is a phrase explaining the results.  For example: Decreased sick leave on the night shift by revamping the schedule in accordance with the collective suggestions made by the night shift staff, {resulting in a 30% decrease in sick leave taken over a 3 month period}.  Notice how much more powerful the above accomplishment statement seems instead of a responsibility statement that reads: Posts a staffing schedule every two weeks.

Now that you know how to write accomplishment statements, how do you identify your accomplishments on previous jobs?

First, read over your list of responsibilities and ask yourself the question, “When I carried out this responsibility, what was the outcome over a period of time?”  Let’s take an example.  Suppose the normal routine in your former department was to carry out a routine responsibility at the end of the workday, but you notice that it was frequently left undone or partially done, resulting in delays in workflow the following day.  So you decide to move this routine from the back end of the day to the front end of the day. 
Second, either calculate the resulting effect of the change, or make an educated and fair estimate.  If you can measure the effect directly, incorporate it into your accomplishment statement.  But if you need to make an educated and fair estimate, do that also and incorporate it into your accomplishment statement.  For example, if your department experienced a problem you fairly estimated occurring an average of twice per day, and after your intervention to an average of 10 times per month on average, figure it this way.  Twice per day is 10 times per week which is 40 times per month.  The change is 40 times to 10 times per month which is a fourfold decrease.  You can legitimately lay claim to having accomplished that much change.

Looking into the future, savvy practitioners include these accomplishment statements in their resumes.  Then, they update their resumes a few weeks before their performance evaluations on the job.  This does a couple of things.  First, it helps practitioners bring their accomplishments to top of mind, so they can go into their evaluation meetings with a sense of accomplishment and pride.  Second, in the event their performance evaluations do not meet their own expectations, they already have updated resumes they can use to either renegotiate terms in their current jobs, or begin job searches.  By the way, workplace performance objectives, often required in annual or semiannual performance evaluations, amount to pro-forma accomplishment statements that can be formatted in ways similar to accomplishment statements.

I wish you all the best of success in writing your accomplishment statements. 

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