As previously discussed, it’s crucial to think about your goals objectively in ways that can be qualified and quantified on your resume. You also need to think about your accomplishments in ways that are easily understood by a general audience that may include people outside your industry. The acronym NEAR will help you to do this consistently. NEAR stands for Numbers, Examples, Accomplishments, and Results.
Numbers Make Your Work Quantifiable
METRICS & KPI’S
Many professionals have metrics or key performance indicators that quantify their performance for resume updates. You likely have these types of numbers as an individual contributor and may have aggregated them if you lead a team. Examples might include:
- Percent of projects completed on time and to what degree
- Sales totals for you, your peers, your reports along with largest and average
- Number of leads generated and sales attributed
- Successful hires made and longevity
- System uptime for your department
- Units produced by the shift you lead and hours without an accident
It’s crucial that you consistently record any objective measures like these so that you can show your progress over time.
SCOPE OR BUDGET
Another vital set of career numbers concerns the range of your responsibilities. There are many ways to look at this including the number of reports, area or territory you’re responsible for, number of customers supported, number of facilities you cover, or vendors that you manage, to name a few. If you oversee a product or portfolio, what is its value or revenue? If you have budget responsibilities, what is the size of that budget? Has it gone up or down? How have you improved its performance?
Speaking of improvement, few people or organizations have an unbroken string of accomplishment. Regardless whether your numbers are going up or down, subjectively, you should also be able to explain how you were able to drive growth or mitigate loss.
Examples Qualify Your Skills
Whether you are updating your resume for a new job or want to do well in your annual reviews, you must keep up with examples of what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.
Most behavioral questions in an interview are seeking a response using the STAR model. Specifically, interviewers want to hear about a Situation, the Task assigned, the Action you took, and the Result you achieved. The star model can be useful in discussing performance with your boss. Even if you love your current job, giving your supervisor solid examples of your performance during an annual review is critical. Often she will have to justify a merit increase or bonus to her peers, her boss, or other leaders in the company.
With the quantified data that you collected in the steps above, you can create some concrete examples of your metrics. Are you in sales? What was your biggest sale? How long did it take? What were the steps leading up to it, and how did you close it?
Here are some illustrations:
- Outline your three most significant projects or milestones in a larger project, explaining how you delivered them on time and under budget.
- Detail how you closed your most significant sale.
- How you selected and implemented a new lead management system.
- Tell about your most successful hires and the method you used to identify them.
- Talk about the controls you put in place to maximize system uptime.
- Explain how you hit your production goals or improved safety.
Ideally, you want to come up with two or three examples of your leading metrics, so that if an interviewer presses you for another instance, you have them ready.
While it’s vital to give affirmative examples, on the other end, can you discuss negative ones as well? What was the big sale that you lost? What were the contributing factors? How would you approach it differently now? Don’t gloss over your misses. That’s a sign of arrogance, hypocrisy, or a lack of self-awareness.
Accomplishments Show You at Your Best
If we think of example and metrics as explaining and measuring your defined job responsibilities, then think of your achievements as the things that set you apart. Often they are outside your expected work activities. How are you pushing the envelope and setting yourself apart from your peers at your employer and elsewhere? What’s unique about you?
Sometimes you can be a solid performer who excels because of the extraordinary things that you do. Think of Eli Manning, former quarterback for the New York Giants; his regular-season performance has not always been exemplary. Nevertheless, he is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, because he has twice upset one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Tom Brady. If your regular metrics and work aren’t the stuff of legends, make sure you set yourself apart in other ways.
The following cases show your accomplishments
- Your metrics show that your projects are on time and under budget, so you outline your three most significant projects or milestones in a larger project.
- Elaborate on the tactics did you use to close your most valuable sale.
- You identified problems with your current customer relationship management system and then selected and implemented a new CRM that paid for itself in eight months.
- How you identified and recruited several new employees who themselves have been exemplary.
- You recommended and after authorization put controls in place to maximize system uptime when this outside your regular duties.
- You led an effort to reduce manufacturing defects or safety incidents.
As stated early, your career is rarely an unbroken string of successes. Sometimes you reach outside your comfort zone and get an unpleasant reminder of why it’s called a comfort zone. The important part is to be able to articulate what you learned and how you grew.
Results Prove Your Value
Finally, what were the outcomes of your daily numbers, efforts, and the extraordinary things that you’ve done at work? What can you point to as a tangible product of your endeavors? How is the team, department, or company better because you were a part of it? You need to be able to define what your role was in group wins. How did you collaborate across silos? What were your specific contributions?
You would also want to track any specific problems that you addressed outside and explicitly above your job responsibilities. Regardless of whether you were able to bring about a positive outcome, the fact that you would attempt to resolve such an issue shows excellent initiative.
Results could have both qualitative and quantitative aspects to them. In the case of intangible results, you may only be able to express qualitative or subjective information. When considering tangible results, the numbers given in this section should focus on the sum or products of numbers shown earlier. If you increased your sales by x%, how did that impact market share or profitability? If you had a system uptime goal of 99% and you hit 99.9%, how does that improvement improve profitability? Said another way, to what effect does another 79 hours of uptime have on your bottom line?
Putting it all together
How would this look when taken as a whole? Let’s say you’re a customer service supervisor. You should have a good idea of your team’s monthly and annual call volume, as well as averages and peaks for a given period. You should record memorable and meaningful example interactions with customers that highlight your skills and value, such as exceptionally demanding customers or calls that had an exceptional outcome. Perhaps you were able to win back a customer or reconcile a substantial issue. You could note the customer call that led you to dive into a systems problem that was really outside your responsibility. Finally, you could point out that your investigation revealed a severe business process issue. This finding led to a process improvement that saved 20 hours per week and reduced customer wait times by an average of 10 seconds per call, netting $40,000 in annual savings.
Combining these four types of information tells a convincing story of your competence as a professional, so it’s essential to keep track of your numbers, examples, accomplishments, and results. If you don’t use a tool with programmable reminders like Accomplitrack, then consider using non-specific tools like Evernote, OneNote, or Excel to record what you do.