What’s in your Brag Book?

trophies - accomplishments and achievementsMost of my blogs focus on what happens between the last day of one job and the first day of the next, and the job search process in between. Today, I want to share something you should think about during the times between, when you’re employed: filling up your brag book. 

When I’m working with someone to improve their resume, we’ll talk about highlighting their accomplishments or achievements. Usually, this is done in the employment history section, with a few bullet points following the description of a role they held. Sometimes, those people don’t have enough – or good enough – content to work with. And unfortunately, that’s often too late to fix it. The time to be keeping track of your accomplishments is when you’re working. Today, I’d like to talk about how and why you should.

The kind of achievements I’m talking about here can take two forms. One kind is special recognition, or attaining a certain goal. For example, if you were recognized by management for a particular thing (perhaps a more specific variation of ‘Employee of the Month’), or exceeding some sort of target (like a sales quota) for six months in a row. Those accomplishments are important, and worth noting. While you should certainly track this kind of accomplishment and include relevant ones on your resume, they’re also fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t spend much time talking about them here.

The other kind of accomplishments, and what I want to talk more about, are about the value you create for the company you work for. These accomplishments jump out to recruiters and hiring managers, because they show a higher level of understanding about what you actually do as an employee. A great employee doesn’t just trade their time for money. They understand that their role has the potential to help the company reach its goals, to help the company grow and achieve more, and compete more aggressively. When you articulate how the work you do connects and contributes to the company’s overall goals, you become a more desirable employee in the eyes of prospective employers.

The more quantifiable your accomplishments are, the better. Dollar values and percentages on a resume really pop out, so whenever you have the opportunity to gather that kind of data, do it.

Salespeople usually know whether they’ve met or exceeded their quota; that’s a basic quantifiable stat to track. But salespeople can also contribute to a certain percentage increase in gross sales or profitability company-wide. Those numbers can be just as important as individual achievement.

Employees in a wide range of positions can save a company time and money by making a process more efficient. It’s often possible to quantify that with a percentage of time saved, or a dollar value (the difference between what it cost the company before and after).

Many employees in different positions can do things, either individually or as part of a team, that contribute to the number of customers coming in the (literal or figurative) door, and how many of those customers come back to buy more. Those changes can also be quantified, by number of purchases, number of customers, gross sales or profitability increases, in monetary value or by percentage.

You might need to dig a bit to get the data. Depending on the company you work for, it might be an owner or someone in senior management, someone in sales management, or it might be accounting. It might feel uncomfortable at first to ask, but realize that by asking, you’re showing that you’re aware of and interested in the company’s overall goals. That’s a good thing.

Some accomplishments can’t be quantified with a specific value, but they illustrate how an employee went above and beyond their job description to create additional value for the company, which says a lot about those people. If you were specifically invited to join a particular project team, or if you took the initiative to do something that was outside the scope of your typical day-to-day job, those are also fair game to include on your resume, even though they might not include numbers.

If you’re not already tracking these kinds of achievements, now is a great time to start. It can be as simple as a note file on your computer, or a page in a notebook. You won’t always include all of them on your resume; like your skills and experience, the accomplishments you list can and should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. The most important thing is to have a list to choose from.

I’ll close with one final point. Tracking your achievements in this way will help you build a better resume, and stronger job applications overall. But there’s another way this will help you, when you’re not on the job market. However frequently you have a performance review, sharing these data points will underscore your value to the company … and may even serve as the foundation for your case for a raise or a promotion.



Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash