Nearly every client I work with laments the fact that he didn’t keep better records of his achievements in previous years.
While it is not impossible, it is often a challenge to reconstruct specific examples of your work accomplishments. More than one client has spent hours in his garage rummaging through old boxes in search of evidence that we can use on his resume.
If you are faced with this dilemma, here is what you should look for: old performance appraisals, thank you letters from your boss, colleagues or customers, client or project folders, bonus pay stubs, certificates of achievement and letters of recognition. Review these documents with a highlighter in hand. Look for evidence of money saved, improved efficiency, increases in revenue and customer satisfaction. Evaluate the situation before you took charge and the impact after you tackled the problem.
It is also worth talking with former managers, co-workers and colleagues to see what they remember. It can be surprising to hear what others find remarkable about your performance and what they consider your areas of expertise. Often, managers and co-workers remember details of projects that you have long forgotten and which add creditability to your candidacy.
Now, here is how you can earn an extra $100,000: when you land that next, great job immediately set up a file folder with the word “accomplishments” across the top. At the end of every week take a few minutes to jot down a few notes about the projects you completed, progress made on key assignments, or customer comments you received. Make copies of client thank you letters and attach any related documentation. Toss all of these items your accomplishment file.
I guarantee that when the time comes for your next performance appraisal or résumé update you will have plenty of material for inspiration. While not every item will be a pearl of wisdom, you will rediscover and be amazed by achievements you have long since forgotten.
Regardless of whether you are preparing for a performance evaluation or your next résumé, tracking and quantifying your contributions can easily add $100,000 or more to your income over the course of your career. Annual appraisals, promotions and new jobs are opportunities to negotiate salary increases. Your ability to demonstrate why you are worth more as a result of real, tangible contributions enables you to garner salary increases above the 2 to 4 percent average increase. In this tight economy, it might mean the difference between a zero increase and a small raise.
One of my young clients, a recent college graduate, negotiated an additional $2000 in salary by highlighting her accomplishments in holiday and summer jobs. The value of an additional 1000 to 2000 dollars negotiated at age 25 increases geometrically over time since future salary is generally based on past salary history. Tracking accomplishments and using them to demonstrate value during job interviews and performance appraisals is not only a smart career advancement strategy, it is a sound financial strategy as well.
Mary Jeanne Vincent is a career expert and strategist with a private coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831.657.9151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.