The Heart and Soul of the Job Search

By John L. Nicodemus

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Before you can write an effective resume, network with confidence, respond well in an interview, or even be really effective in your job search, you MUST understand the value that you bring to the table in an employment situation AND be able to clearly articulate that value to the hiring manager.Most of us intrinsically understand the value we offer to an employer, but we find it difficult to easily and clearly communicate that to others. We tend to talk in generalities, which are not convincing. Since we are hired based on the value we offer the employer, the ability to simply and easily convey that value is crucial to getting a job offer.

The best way to convey our value is to tell specific stories about our accomplishments. In this context, accomplishments are things that we have done about which we are proud that demonstrate the skills and attributes that employers want. These do not have to be work related. They can be from volunteer efforts, sports, scholastic efforts, but they do need to reflect something of value to an employer. A colleague, Mike Peduto, has very generously given me permission to use his accomplishment questionnaire, which I use to help jog people’s memory about specific accomplishments.

Most people that I talk with have a very hard time recognizing their own accomplishments. They tend to think that the accomplishment was “just part of their job” or “was just a lucky break”. Even worse, if their boss took credit for a solution that the individual devised, they think that they cannot take credit themselves. You can and must take credit for legitimate accomplishments. As a general rule, you should have at least 5 accomplishments plus one more for every year that you have been in the work force. Each accomplishment should be written as a story using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or other similar story format. Using hard numbers or metrics ($ saved, % increased, etc) will make each accomplishment even stronger. You will only use the action, result, and metrics on the resume. The entire story will be used in the interview(s).

I was challenged to develop a list of 20 accomplishments a number of years ago. I immediately started the list, and in less than 10 minutes, had 4 down on paper…then I hit a wall. I could not come up with any more. I talked with family, friends, and colleagues. I even pulled out my old Army evaluations and reread them. It took me a week and a half to finish the list. What I found was that others recognized my accomplishments much more easily than I did. We all discount our own accomplishments, so this is one of the most difficult parts of the entire job search process; it is also the most important part of the process.

Once the list is done, you are ready to build your resume and start networking. When you get that all important interview, reread all your accomplishments right before the interview starts, so that they will be fresh in your mind, and you will not struggle trying to recall specific accomplishments that the employer will find compelling. You are not bragging. You are only relating stories about your accomplishments and letting the hiring manager make the value judgment that leads to the job offer!

John L. Nicodemus is a Job Coach / Resume Writer, Speaker, Author, and Mentor. Follow John on Twitter: @CallTheMan


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