Career Matters

By Lily Whiteman

Remind your boss why you shine

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Whether or not your boss requests from you a list of your achievements before he prepares your annual evaluation, you should submit one. Without your list, your boss will probably be more likely to accurately and completely remember what he achieved in sixth grade than what you achieved six months ago.

How to convey your achievements in impressive terms:

  • Begin with a concise description of your achievements; how your responsibilities increased; how you went the extra mile; obstacles you conquered, and any other overarching themes for the year.
  • Use bullets, and start each bullet with an action verb — such as completed, led, organized, created from scratch, advised and coordinated. To find more action verbs to include in your bullets, do a search on the Internet for “action verbs for resumes.”
  • Craft your bullet points as results-oriented statements that convey how your achievements benefited or added value for your office. For example, did you help your organization do more with less, speed or improve processes, reach new audiences, eliminate bottlenecks, publish documents or improve your organization’s image?
  • Quantify. Support descriptions of your activities and results with statistics, measurements, counts and other metrics. By doing so, you will convey the heft of your achievements and present them as indisputable. To identify appropriate metrics, review metrics included in your organization’s strategic plan, and consider metrics related to time, money, geography and the number of people, organizations or events that benefited from your work. For example, cite the number of work products you produced per week or month; the tight or ever-changing deadlines you met; the time-savings you produced; the number of hits received by a website you produced; the increase in web traffic you helped generate; the number of people affected by a program you managed; the number of people you trained; the number of cases you managed; the number of stakeholder groups you coordinated; the number of media appearances you organized; the size of the cost-savings you produced or waste you eliminated; the budget increase that you helped generate; or the size of your jurisdiction. If you can’t quantify specific numbers, approximate.
  • Name-drop. Cite the names and titles of political appointees, stakeholder groups, senior staffers and members of Congress who reviewed, approved or used your work products, attended events you organized, belonged to your target audience or benefited from your work.
  • Validate your success. When possible, crown your achievements with objective evidence of your success, such as verbal, written or emailed thank-you notes or praise you received from managers, clients, contractors or stakeholder groups; individual or team awards that you earned; awards or records that you helped your organization earn; special requests for your services issued by managers; favorable press, newsletter or Internet coverage garnered by your projects; positive survey, investigative or audit results that you helped your organization produce; or your record of completing projects on time or on deadline. Don’t assume that your boss remembers praise he heaped on you. Include oral, written or emailed compliments from your boss as well as any time-off awards, cash awards or promotions you received with accompanying written praise.
  • Cite classes and your associated high grades, as well as training and conferences you attended, and explain how your participation helped increase your productivity. What if your boss ignores your list or omits your achievements from your written review? Ask him to attach your list to your written review so that it will become part of your formal record. That way, if the application for your next target job requires you to submit your most recent annual evaluation, as is common, you will receive credit during the application process for the contents of your achievements list.

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