Monday, April 23, 2012

Some Accomplishments are Just Not Quantifiable

Recently I met a number of job seekers who had just finished hearing a job search expert speak on the topic of accomplishments. They walked away with the impression that all accomplishments must be quantified or they are not accomplishments. I disagree and let me share the logic behind my belief.

First let’s understand more about accomplishments


True, the job market has changed and it is not who you worked for and the title that you had; it is about what you did for the company and how the next company will benefit by hiring you. Past performance is an indicator of future performance and previous success is an indicator of future success. These traits are communicated via your accomplishment statements.

By accomplishment I do not mean cured cancer, solved world peace, fixed the economy or lowered the price of gas because as we can read in the news, no one has done that yet.

By accomplishments I mean where you have left your thumb print, how you made the places you have worked better.


These traits are communicated via your accomplishments statements and usually in STAR format. STAR, sometimes referred to as PAR or CAR – I like STAR best, is the structure to use when sharing accomplishments. S/T is the situation or task you faced (the before picture and why you took action); A is the actions you took (what you did); R is the results (the after picture – the benefit of your actions).

Quantify if You Can

Yes, it is better if you can quantify your accomplishments. An example of a quantified accomplishment would be the time I found errors in the programming requirements written by another company from which we were coding. By identifying these errors, our company secured an additional $250 K to correct the requirements.

If you are in sales, companies look to see the size of the deals you have landed, the percentage of revenue growth, etc. They are looking for numbers!

Examples of Accomplishments that cannot be Quantified

I have worked with clients who have made significant contributions to their prior companies in ways that just do not lend themselves to being quantifiable.

Take the medical administrator who came into a practice and the patient files were a mess; the staff took longer than necessary to find the client’s file before an appointment. The medical administrator is not going to take a stop watch and time how long it takes to find the Smith file before organizing the files and then time the process again after organizing the files just to be able to quantify the accomplishment. Organizing the files to improve efficiency is just as valid of an accomplishment as securing $250 K by identifying logic errors in requirements. Other than stating the number of doctors or the number of files, the real result is that it is faster and easier to find the files and that will be harder to quantify.

Some Numbers Just Raise Red Flags

Some job seekers have numbers sprinkled throughout their accomplishments in their resumes but in some instances they draw more negative attention than positive attention.

At no time should you exaggerate or embellish your resume or credentials. Even though no one has checked your credentials before does not mean another company won’t or can’t. But even before a background check, hiring authorities will be turned off by facts that seem unbelievable. If you are a programmer and claim to have saved the company billions of dollars, you will probably need to back that fact up with other facts or it will be looked upon with some skepticism.

Use Accomplishments
In your resume and in your interviews, leverage your accomplishments to add weight to the factual nature of the skills, experience, and abilities you state you have. Quantify the ones you can; don’t feel you can’t share an accomplishment that cannot be quantified though. It is your accomplishment – share it!

By Judi Adams
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach