Accomplishments demonstrate your skills and experience. It’s one thing to claim you can do something — it’s another to prove you’ve done it.
When collecting accomplishments for a job search, consider the key areas of competency required for success in the position you are seeking. What are the key components of your job? You should be able to identify accomplishments directly related to this expertise.
To come up with accomplishments, take a look at your past performance reviews and think about any awards or recognition you’ve received.
The most important part of the accomplishment is outlining your results. To be most effective, however, you also need to provide context for your accomplishment. There are several different formats to do this.
Here are some common formats: CCAR, STAR, CAR, and PAR. I like CCAR because that is the framework used in the federal government. The other formats work just as well.
An example of a CCAR statement would be:
In my assignment as a Customer Service Representative for the Department of Veterans Affairs (context); I was faced with a customer who was yelling and clearly upset (challenge). I tried to calm the situation by first telling him my name, letting him know that I would do everything I could to help him, and then asking him to tell me his problem from start to finish, and listening closely throughout (action). Although it took about 10 minutes, I was finally able to calm the customer down and we completed our transaction. My supervisor later said she had heard the interaction and was proud of the way I handled it. (result)
An example of a STAR statement would be:
Recruited to revitalize an underperforming sales territory characterized by significant account attrition. (Situation) Tasked with reacquiring accounts that had left the company within the last six months. (Task) Developed contact list for lapsed accounts and initiated contact with decision-makers at each company. (Action) Reacquired 22% of former customers, resulting in $872,000 in revenue.
An example of a CAR statement is:
Manufacturing plant recently had its third accident, leading to a line shutdown. (Challenge) Updated internal safety plan and instituted new training program for production employees to reduce accidents and injuries. (Action) Plant has been accident-free for the past nine months — the longest it has been without accidents in plant history. (Result)
A sample PAR statement would be:
Nursing home employee morale was at an all-time low, and long-time employees were leaving in droves. (Problem) Identified that new scheduling system was not well received by either new hires or long-time employees, resulting in significant dissatisfaction with employee schedules. Instituted new “employee choice” schedule system that increased employee cooperation in determining ideal staffing schedule and improved employee satisfaction as a result. (Action) Reduced turnover by 15%, saving more than $12,500 in hiring and training costs in the first three months after implementing new system. (Result)
Notice that each of these frameworks includes your actions and results. Potential employers what to know what YOU (not “we”) did and how it turned out. Quantifying your accomplishments also helps you stand out from others who do the work you do — whether you’re using the information for a raise or promotion request, in an interview, or when preparing your resume.
Nancy Segal is a federal career and job search expert. She is also the author of The Complete Guide to Writing a Federal Resume which is available at www.fedweek.com. Following her own senior-level federal HR career, she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC to provide HR management perspective to astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy is also one of our premier management and career development trainers for our online webinars.
If you have any questions for Nancy concerning your federal career or the federal job search process you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.