It's hard to promote yourself in person, let alone on paper, without sounding like a narcissist. But it's necessary, and there are ways to do it that won't make you sound like a braggart.
It is extremely important to use quantitative metrics to describe your achievements to make you stand out. Hiring managers want to know that you increased satisfaction, reduced costs or improved efficiency (and want to see numbers to prove it). But those are your claims the hiring manger must decide to accept or not; how about words from the mouths of your colleagues? This is why special recognition needs to be on your résumé too. Otherwise, how will a hiring manager know that others think you're a star employee?
The first thing you should do is collect this information. It will take a good chunk of time to dig into your past work history, but if you set up a system you won't have to spend time in the future going back to find it once more.
-- Email folder: Create a new folder in your work inbox to file all kudos, recognition and compliments that you receive via email.
-- File folder: Create a work folder on your personal drive where you can keep performance appraisals. If you prefer to keep emails here too, you can save them by selecting "save as_file."
-- Word or Excel document: Pick your favorite program and create a table with columns for the following: a description of the project you worked on for which you received compliments or an award, dates and the specific recognition you received (such as the name of the award or word-for-word compliment). Put this document in your new file folder.
Once you've created your system, you're ready to translate your kudos into applicable résumé material. Awards are easy because you can put those either as a bullet under the job where you received them, or if you have space and have received several awards, you should create a special section at the end of your résumé. List the name of each award plus where and when you received it.
Verbal and written compliments are more challenging to incorporate, but not impossible. Performance appraisals may or may not contain good content for your résumé, but they can be very helpful for finding good words about your work. Here are some examples:
Compliment: "Thank you for your great work on the event. The client praised your efforts and asked that we have you work on the next one too."
Résumé translation: "Designed and executed client marketing event for more than 100 attendees, including senior government leaders and Fortune 500 executives; praised by client for efforts."
Compliment: "I'm very happy with how this project turned out and that you were able to deliver it on time."
Résumé translation: "Redesigned project plan and strategy after encountered problems; recognized for ability to turn it around and finalize it on time."
Performance appraisal: "She was selected to mentor 10 junior staff and interns as a result of her ability to work well with team members and counsel peers."
Résumé translation:" Selected by senior leadership to mentor 10 junior staff and interns."
Performance appraisal: "Detail-oriented professional with capability to rise quickly within the organization."
Résumé translation: "[Name an example of a time when you've employed your 'detail-oriented' nature]; acknowledged by management for attention to detail and high potential for promotion."
If you've received an email or letter of gratitude from a client, vendor or manager, highlight the specifics in a bullet in the same way as the examples above.
There are many different words to use to describe the fact that you've received kudos. You don't want to use the same word throughout your résumé. Some words to consider using, depending on the situation, are:
-- Singled out
Don't neglect to include the compliments and recognition you've received on your résumé. Save this information as you work so you can update your résumé easily. Incorporating these details may be the deciding factor for a hiring manager who is considering you or another candidate with a similar background.
Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services. Her goal is to enable people to recognize skills and job possibilities they didn't know they had to make a career change or progress in their current career. She worked for more than 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Yeager holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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