Focus on Business Impact When Citing Your Achievements

Susan Hall
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In my post "How to Succeed While Talking About Failure," I offered advice from Palladin Career Resources about answering an interview question about your biggest failure.


I'd just learned the term "behavioral interview," which essentially is just storytelling. For instance, an interviewer might ask:


  • Tell me about a time when you took over an under-performing team.
  • Tell me about a time when you adopted new technology.
  • Tell me about a time when you led a project that fell behind schedule.
  • Tell me about a time when you changed a process.


But after reading this post by IT resume specialist Jennifer Hay, it's clear that previous advice left something out if you're talking about your achievements. You need to stress business value. Your stories need to clearly and concisely lay out how your achievements benefit your company.


To do that, she says, you need a balance that she calls "just enough." The story should have just enough technical detail and a strong connection to its impact on the business.


Luckily, she provides a structure for doing so. You'll want to read the full post to see her example, but here it is in a nutshell: Provide background, then describe your achievement. She breaks that down into three components:


  • What problem did the business have?
  • What action did you take?
  • How did the company benefit?


So prepare your stories, then go forth and practice. And don't forget to get some honest feedback about whether you've succeeded in making your stories "just enough."


Hay says these stories will serve you well in a variety of situations, including resume writing, interviewing and networking.

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