Today's post comes yet again from TheLadders.com and author Abby Locke. Our topic: Defining Career Success. While a variety of standards or benchmarks exist by which we can evaluate of professional career growth, Abby takes us a step further by making some recommendations on how we can highlight such achievements in our resume and next interview.
I found the article to be insightful and thought-provoking; and it made me reflect on my own career achievements. So take a few minutes and enjoy today's post - and most importantly, reflect on your own career achievements, so you are ready the next time someone asks you what you have accomplished in your career.
How Do You Define Career Success?By Abby Locke
Do any of these situations apply to you?
You have enjoyed steady career progression and have been unexpectedly thrust into the job market for the first time in 15 years.
A viable opportunity for internal promotion has popped up, but you will be going up against some the company's top employees.
You have reached the proverbial "glass ceiling" and want to pursue new executive opportunities.
A mentor you admire wants to introduce you to a key decision maker and a preliminary interview is scheduled.
All of these situations have one thing in common: they require you to put your best foot forward and provide proof of performance. Whether you are actively job hunting, preparing for an interview, or about to connect with a new contact, you need to be able to articulate your key strengths and unique value proposition.
If you haven't sat down and evaluated your career success in a long time, now is the time to start! One of the areas where many senior professionals fall short is in capturing strong, quantifiable and qualitative achievements relevant to their industry. For example, the success for a sales executive is going to be defined in terms of sales growth, market share expansion and strategic alliances, whereas a finance executive is going to attract attention if he/she has noteworthy achievements that relate to P&L management, ROI maximization and cost reduction.
So how do you define success in your industry? Here are a few memory-jogging questions to help you identify and chronicle high-impact achievements that can power up your resume and impress any interviewer.
1. Have you recommended a new system or process that improved efficiency or productivity?
Possible answer: Introduced innovative process improvement initiatives that automated 45 processes, shrunk operating costs by $500,000, and eliminated 100% of manual, time-consuming tasks.
2. Did your actions directly save the company money or time?
Possible answer: Identified $13.5 million savings in general and administrative expenses by conducting extensive review of corporate and field sales operations.
3. Were you responsible for reducing costs or trimming operations?
Possible answer: Slashed annual HR expenditures by $18 million by eliminating duplicate costs, creating benefit efficiencies, and reducing employee training costs.
4. Did you initiate a new program that positively impacted the bottom-line?
Possible answer: Increased annual revenues 20% by introducing a "first-of-its-kind" technology program which offered customers a complete suite of IT solutions instead of a-la carte services.
5. Have you ever been involved in a startup or turnaround operation? What was the outcome?
Possible Answer: Conceived and developed a startup technology consulting firm from the ground up to over $3 million in operations in just three years.
6. Did you receive a powerful compliment or testimony from a senior leader in the company?
Possible Answer: "Trip has devised an innovative marketing philosophy that has rebranded ABC Company in the marketplace and positioned us for success. Her contribution to the team has been valuable and her expertise as a marketing guru is evident." Chief Marketing Officer, ABC Company
7. Did you generate reports or data that improved decision making?
Possible Answer: Eliminated over $80,000 in project delay costs by implementing a project monitoring system which helped senior managers make informed business decisions on asset and resource allocation.
Getting prepared to develop your career accomplishments is not always an easy task. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to capture ten or fifteen years of accomplishments in one day - start by working with one company at a time then pull it all together. Then, you'll be prepared for your next opportunity!
Abby M. Locke is a Certified Executive Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Coach who supports senior-level finance, accounting and technology professionals in career transition. Her resume samples have been published in Nail the Resume! Great Tips for Creating Dynamic Resumes, and Same-Day Resumes.