It’s All About Accomplishments

“What have you done for me lately?”

One of my managers used to ask this on a weekly basis.  At the time, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was that he said it out loud.  Spoken or not, this is one of the standards by which we are all measured in the work world.  It’s true for business owners and employees, for those at the top and bottom of the org chart.  What we have accomplished matters to others.  And if it matters to others, it needs to matter to us.  Note: I’m not saying this is the ONLY thing that matters, just that it is important to be aware of what we have achieved. 

Therefore, I recommend we all maintain our own master list of accomplishments. This list serves as a source for resume content,  a reference for job interviews, for performance appraisals, or to review as  pick-me-up when feeling down.  The master  list of accomplishments is a living document that you maintain as the years go by, and one you will continue to reference as your career progresses. 

So what information do you include on your master list of accomplishments?

  1. Accomplishments/Achievements
  2. Date
  3. Organization

Accomplishments and Achievements

Let’s talk about each of these.  First, what counts as an Accomplishment or Achievement?  Sources to consider for accomplishments include:

–        Goals you achieved
–        Projects you completed
–        Awards you received
–        Articles you published
–        Documents you drafted
–        Teams you facilitated or led
–        Problems you solved
–        Challenges you overcame
–        Obstacles you worked around
–        Results you accomplished

List a short description, not just a name.  Make notes about the result you achieved and the steps you took. “Created marketing materials for Criminal Hearts theater production, including flyers, posters, postcards, website, and press releases” is better than “Project 2A marketing”.  Be specific.  Use metrics and measures where applicable. “Decreased defect count by 12% in 3 months” is better than “improved quality”.  

Some questions to ask yourself to remember accomplishments are:
 – What did you improve?
 – What did you increase the measure or value of? 
 – What did you decrease the measure of? 
 – What changed because you were there, at a particular organization, because of things you did while there? 
 – Did you help save the company or group time or money?


Write down the date you completed the accomplishment or achievement.  Write down what you can remember – year, month/year, month/day/year. 


As for the organization you worked for, with what company was the achievement accomplished?  Make a note whether this was paid work, volunteer, or an independent project for family/friends.  Include all of these in this list, e.g. perhaps you kept the books for your spouse’s business, or designed and decorated cakes for family and friend.

Don’t get hung up on how to phrase things for now.  Just capture your accomplishments and achievements.  The record is what’s important.  

Review your old resumes, status reports, reviews, certificates, and awards to help you.  Go back through your adult life and list all the relevant accomplishments that you can remember in some detail.

Now that you have a master list of your accomplishments, remember to update it every time you achieve something new. 

Next time you are writing a cover letter or updating your resume, or are preparing for an interview or performance review – take out your master list of accomplishments.  Identify the ones that are relevant, those that make the points you wish to make.  Then incorporate those into your document or conversation. 

And when someone asks you, “What have you done lately?” you’ll be prepared to respond.

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Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA