We’re all told growing up not to brag, not be a showoff, not to boast. We’re told to be humble and unassuming. We don’t know how to talk about our accomplishments without feeling guilty or feeling awkward. We constantly question whether we’re talking too much about ourselves or overstepping bounds. We’re cautious about giving ourselves too much credit.
In our day-to-day lives and personal relationships this might be the best approach, but it is a different story in the workplace, and especially when applying for jobs and interviewing.
We often miss out on opportunities because we can’t talk about ourselves in a way that captures our value (and we’ve touched on it before here). Another candidate may have exactly the same experience (or less experience) as you. Yet, the way they’re able to convey their impact makes all the difference in the world. Ultimately, they’re also the one that gets hired because the employer wants the best candidate who can deliver exceptional results.
The problem is that we often struggle to identify our own accomplishments or we hesitate to take ownership of them for fear of giving ourselves undeserved praise.
So how can you address this inability to recognize and confidently discuss your accomplishments so you can be the one getting the job offer?
STEP 1: Reflect
The first step is to take a bit of time to reflect on what you did on a day-to-day basis for your employer. Perhaps every morning you were tasked with getting the team coffee. Now this is a pretty mundane responsibility and not something you want to advertise on your resume. But, take a second to think about it- why were you tasked with getting coffee for the team? Was it so they could use that time more productively? Perhaps for a daily team meeting where they discussed opportunities for revenue growth?
STEP 2: Realize (or Research)
Now, think a little deeper. What was the outcome of all those meetings?
Don’t panic if you can’t come up with an answer immediately. Not everyone can see the big picture right away. It might take a little investigating to figure this out. Maybe strike up a conversation with your supervisor about the purpose of those meetings or take a second look at those companywide emails from management that talk about the end-of-quarter results.
Regardless, asking questions and taking a moment to look at the big picture can lead you to exactly where you want to go. Maybe after quick chat with a colleague you learn that the firm realized 50% growth in revenue as a result of these daily meetings- and that’s good information for you to know!
STEP 3: Resolve
In this example, you can confidently draw the conclusion that you “helped drive 50% growth in revenue for the firm.”
As it turns out, buying coffee every morning was actually pretty important. You saved valuable time for the team which they used to find solutions and opportunities to grow the top line. This is a much more robust and impressive contribution than just getting coffee for your team and more importantly- it’s 100% true.
By simply adding on the verb “helped” you automatically attach yourself to the larger accomplishments and goals of your organization. To isolate the bigger goal, it helps to ask yourself why whenever you think about your responsibilities and assignments: why were you assigned that task, why was your team taking on that goal, etc. By continuing to ask the question “Why?” you’ll eventually lead yourself to the final end result and define your actual contribution.
The most important takeaway here is that outlining your accomplishments on your resume or talking about them in an interview isn’t bragging. It’s actually being honest about what you can contribute to an organization and how much you actually have to offer. If you continue to downplay what you’ve done, no one wins: recruiters miss out on hiring a great catch and you might miss out on great career opportunities. So, don’t be afraid to let yourself take some credit!
Lastly, a good starting place to begin crafting your resume is the Careerly Resume Template. This will get your resume in a clear and concise format. Once you have your content formatted, check out the Careerly Resume Guide for next steps on how to build up your resume content and the 200+ Resume Bullets to see real-life examples of show off your value add- and finally land that job offer!