Step 2: Achievements

Achievements Inventory Instructions

ACHIEVEMENTS are the most important thing we can know about ourselves. It is what employers want to BUY about us, It is the area most people struggle with and it is the one area we must be thorough about in order to be successful.

I have kept the forms separate from the instructions to make it easier to manage and print the forms. You should have downloaded Achievement Inventory Form and Achievement Category.  If not, click the links (underlined titles) here to download now.

Achievements Inventory

This is the foundation on which the results of the ENTIRE program depends. It is the core of what we will use to create killer resumes and be more prepared than the competition for interviews. What else can I say, take your time, be thorough, and put your mind and your memory to work. After the instructions, I have included a long list of questions that will help you remember the things you have done, problems you have solved, skills you have and things that you have contributed over the years to be the person you are today. Ready? Let’s GO.

Computer Based System using MS Word

We originally designed this program using manual forms, and those instructions follow the next section. If you know you want to use the manual forms , simply scroll down to the next section.

Word (Database or Table) Achievement Summary Method

(To get this portion of the program in an actual .Doc file download the document from this link)

Below is a Table that can act like a Database. First thing to check is under VIEW, TOOLBARS, then Select Database. A new toolbar should appear. The important issue is the first line of the Table that contains the Headline Topics. These lines create the groups and sets for the Table and are NOT included in Sorts, so anything below them is sorted, but they remain fixed.

To practice and see how it works do the following: Move your cursor to the area above Priority. A Downward Pointing Arrow will appear. Click. This will select the left column. On the Database menu select Sort, which is the A-Z with the arrow pointing down for Alphabetical (ascending), and up for reverse (descending). Click on the Button. Your list is now sorted in the selected order. All of the fields in the record move to match the order.

This would be very helpful when you have a long list. The weakness is it only works on one field at a time. In order to do the next step, you have to sort in two steps. First, select the Right column (Category) and sort Ascending. Then select only the grouped achievements (by highlighting from the Left of the Priority letter to the end of the achievements in that group), in this case design, in the left column, which would be the four design achievements and select Ascending again. This will then order the Design Achievements in descending order. It changes the whole list, but all of the Design ones remain together. You can then copy or transpose all of the Design Achievements that have been sorted with all of the A’s together, then the B’s etc. Do the same fore each group. Try it. It is easier to do than describe!

As long as you select new record and only fill in the Achievement portion, you can then select new record again, and go on to fill in the form as per the instructions. You can go back at any time to fill in the Priority and the Category. You are then free and able to sort them as per these instructions.

Achievements plus Results
B Designed the Science Project and Won the competition Competition
A Designed the Science Project and Won the competition Design
B Designed Widget and was accepted to the major design team opening breakfast Design
B Developed a formula to make angle calculations in my design program Design
C Designed nose picking machine Design
A Got promoted to Supervisor after only six months in the job Leadership
A Developed a formula to make angle calculations in my design program Programming
C Got eight’s to stop flashing on PVR Technical

In this way, you can think them up in any order, sort them later and keep an electronic copy that can be added to later. You may have to do the sort a few times or different ways, but it will work. You can the highlight and copy sections to the specific Category lists that the Achievement exercise asks you to make. To begin your own list, highlight the table, Under Edit, Select Copy. Select New Document, type the title you want the page to have, position the cursor a line or two below the Title, and click paste. This puts in our table below your title. Click in the first record below the titles (Second record in the table) and using the Database Menu, delete records until they are all gone. Now, click new record and you are ready to start your own lists. Fill in the Middle section, select new record and continue until you have your long list, then go back and enter Priorities and categories for them all. Then sort as above and make the secondary Category lists. These can now be added to any time and adjusted easily.

You can also just copy it all to new page and delete the existing records and begin your own lists. Also to do the category part of the exercise, just Sort by category, resort by priority and copy the whole part of the list to a new page i.e. all of the “A” achievements in a category, then the “B” ones etc.

In my trials, sometimes just clicking the category group once or twice gave us the intended result.

Manual System

This is a paper and pen plan. Many people who have completed the exercises this way have confirmed that actually writing them down was a powerful part of the exercise. There is an added impact to the mind when it sees things in print from your own handwriting. However, this is the computer age, and I have created a database style form in MS Word format that allows you to do the same creative thinking. You type them into a form that will allow you to do the next steps of sorting and compiling with the ease of a computer sorting and copying the various lines to the appropriate place. It is your choice. By clicking the following underlined titles, you will download the manual forms: Achievement Inventory Form and Achievement Category.

Step One:

Print a fair number of the forms called Achievement Inventory, I suggest TEN to Start.

Step Two:

Plan a time where you will have two or three UNINTERRUPTED hours to work on this.

Step Three:

Without regard to time, location or any particular order, start to list your Achievements in the center column. This is intended to be a VERY long list and may eventually contain achievements you may not use in your resumes, but they will be invaluable to study and review for interview preparation. Remember, achievements have TWO Parts: WHAT I did and the RESULTS. These can even go back to your childhood. It does not matter when they occurred, only that you did them and are proud or happy about them, then they go on the list.

As an example: I created a new reporting system that made life easier for everybody ORI learned a new software package that allowed me to work in a new area ORI acquired a new business that grew by 20% in the first year ORI made the college soccer team and we won the Regional Cup

We want you to jump around, skip from memory to memory, follow thought lines, have one thing remind you of another. Go through each job in your memory. Think of when you started, what was it like, what did you learn, what problems did you solve, what did you add personally? Go through them in your mind and make your note. You will be surprised at what you remember. Think about your school days, how did you excel what project were great, what competitions did you win?

It is best to work at this in large time chunks rather than small short sessions. We also recommend that you keep a notebook handy for the next few days because these things are going to pop back in your head at the oddest times, so be prepared.

Step Four:

When the achievements are listed and we are pretty sure we have exhausted all of our possibilities, we now want to complete the last two steps. Down the left-hand column, you are going to assign a Priority to each achievement, either:

A for a large, big, significant one,

B for a medium size one and

C for a small one (but still very important). Do every achievement listed

Step Five:

In the right hand column we are going to assign groups to the achievements. In anyone’s life, four or five or six categories will become apparent when you start to review what we have written. Some examples would be:

Competition, Leadership, Teamwork, Sales, People Management, Committees, Software skills, Hardware Skills, Negotiations, Client skills, Communication, Financial, Planning, Training technical, Scientific, Projects Volunteer, Mentor Problem Solver and many more. You will see which ones make sense when you start to do this part of the exercise. Great Job! Take whatever time you need on this, because the better the job you do on this the better the WHOLE PROGRAM works.

The MS Word Document with the computer based instructions can be found here.

Achievement Category

Step Six:

You could do this the next day or at another time if you are to tired from the last process! When you are ready, print the form called ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORY. You will need to print at least TEN of these as well, probably more. You will see why in a moment. Choose a category to start with and fill in the name in the space provided at the top of the page. Let’s say you picked Leadership to start with. Now, go through all of your lists from the previous exercise, and recopy ALL of the Achievements marked A for that group- Leadership. (All of the bigger achievements.) Show them as an A priority and re-write them in this form. So go through the sheets and bring in all of the A’s for this group, leave a few lines then list all of the B ones then leave some spaces and bring in all of the C achievements for this group.

(NOTE: two things, first, rewriting them is tedious perhaps but extremely powerful reinforcement and secondly, we are leaving some spaces because you may remember even more from each group and we want some room to include any new ones)

You will now have several pages of all of the achievements of this category sorted into A, B and C groups.

Repeat this process until you have created Achievement Category sheets for all of the Categories that we separated them into in the first exercise.

TIP: If you get stuck, get someone to help. When you start explaining the situations to someone else its often easier. They will also ask questions that will help you think of new things for the list.

CONGRATULATIONS!! You have completed the hardest part of the work and you are now ahead of 95% of your competitors, because they will not be this thorough The results of this effort will be clear to you shortly and be used by you in very powerful and dynamic ways. The vast majority of job hunters (those job hunters YOU will be competing against!) will not be this thorough. They will not make the effort.

Go to a mirror and tell yourself “Good Job. We are on the way to SUCCESS!”

The following is a random list of questions that may help you remember things from your life:

In Addition, if you need more prodding, go to the list of action verbs for resumes and mentally ask yourself how these words may be used in describing your work or achievements.

From School Days:

Did you take any special course?

Did you excel in any particular course?

What Set you apart? Marks, Presentation Special skill or ability?

Did you compete in any Sorts? Teams?

Did you ever lead the Squad?

Did your team win? Locally, Regional, Divisional, National?

Were you in any Clubs or Associations?

Did you do any Extra Curricular Activities? ( that you would care to list!!)

Did you ever win any awards or recognition’s?

Did you demonstrate leadership in or out of Class?

What did you do in groups and what was your role?

Did you present any projects Orally? To how big an audience?

Did you have a part time job? What did you do?

Did you ever have to handle money? How Much?

Did you have to deal with the Public?

Did you solve any problems?

Did you train or teach others?

Did you attend away from Home? How Far?

Did you work to earn the money? At what?

Were you accepted to the course you wanted? Why? Marks?

Did you have to do entrance qualifiers and how well did you do?

What summer work did you do?

What was your final grade level?

After we graduated, we went on to some kind of work (or are trying to right now!)

Did you have a job to go to? How did you arrange that?

With what company? How much start pay?

Did you have to compete to get the job? How did YOU win? Why did they pick you?

How many resumes did you send out? How many interviews?

What did you say or how did you act that was successful?

What Industry? What Company? How many employees?

What were your basic duties?

What skills did you learn or practice?

How did you contribute or how did having YOU in the job affect it’s outcome?

How big was your team? How many others did you relate to internally? Externally?

What problems did you solve? What were you recognized or rewarded for? Who did you help and how?

How long were you in your first role? Did they give you added responsibility? What and when?

Did you earn recognition, awards, special mention or Bonuses?

What additional course did you take? Outcome? Who paid?

What problems did you deal with? What did people know to come to you for?

What were you really good at?

Who was teaching you? Who did you teach and what?

What technology did you use? What new technology did you learn?

Why did you think it was going to be hard to replace you when you leave?

What did you lead?

What kind of politics were involved? How did you play the game?

What areas did you influence?

Who was in management that you had to ensure they were happy with your work and why? Outcome?

What made you decide to leave? Could that have been influenced by your behavior? What did you learn?

What mistakes did you make and what did you learn?

How did you find your next job?

How much money did you earn to start? At the finish?

Did you ever get any early raises or bonuses for performance? Win any prizes?

Did you ever learn new software or systems including manual ones?

Did you ever work with any clients of the company in person or by phone? doing What?

Was there one skill everyone counted on you for?

Did you ever have to step into someone else’s job to help out? For how long?

Did you work on a specific project you were proud of?

What did you LOVE to do in that job?

Did your job grow? How? To include what? More Money?

What new products or services did you have to learn about?

What did you do that was above and beyond the call of duty?

For Managers

How many people were you responsible for? Did the group grow? By how much?

Who did the hiring, screening, final selection? Did you need supervisors approval to hire?

Who did you have to discipline? Fire? How and why?

Ever deal with unions? How and what was your role? What problems did you solve? Create?

What hard decisions had to be made?

What was the extent of your responsibility? For people? For Money?

What planning did you have to do? What training?

What gave you pleasure in the job? What was the hardest thing you had to do?

How did you manage the politics? Who made your life miserable and how did you minimize the affect?

What skills or qualities about you did management like? Peers? Subordinates?

How would you describe the power you had?

What were you most proud of?

What are your core competencies?

Have you taken additional courses or added to you education experience? Full time? Part Time?

What compliments might you hear about you if the people did not know you were listening?

You want to think back through your life and work experience and make a master list of all of these things. The program will sort them out into an order that is useful, powerful and will generate above average results. In the early notes I said this could take hours, for some it took days, but the results are more than worth the effort. We are trying to squeeze it all out of your memory and get it down on paper in a form you can use, so please, don’t be in a hurry. Its critical to our success together in writing Killer resumes, being ready to discuss our achievements in interviews, and by reading this over, we will be much more calm, confident, ready and positive about the interview process. Those killer resumes are going to lead to more interviews. I hope that makes the effort worth it all.

Go through each job with this list of questions and remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list. We hope that it will prompt you to think of your own questions. We are trying to discover many details about ourselves and our work and life experience.

Expanding a few of our Favorite Achievements

There is another use we are going to put these results to. This is going to be repeated in the Perfect Job exercise, but it could be valuable to do the work here and now.

I want you to pick five of these achievements, ones you really liked or are most proud of or that appeal to you above the others. If you were to make a list of the achievements in order of importance to you, these five would be on top of the list. Now, you are to write a paragraph or two describing each of these in detail. I mean “Gory Detail” Take your time. Relive the experience, remember the challenges, the problems, the difficulties, the solutions, the final results, or the elation or proud moment or maybe even recognition or sense of achievement. I want you to be very descriptive. This is your life, let’s be proud of the moments that we shone the brightest. A good strategy is to explain them to a friend before you start writing. This often opens the flow and allows detail description to come easily. They will even see how you are different while you are explaining them. Then, write it all down.

It is important that you complete the descriptions of all five achievements BEFORE you move on to the next part. Don’t even PEEK!!

Have you done all five? Are you sure? Fine, then let’s continue.

I want you to have a look at each story and see if you can find a common thread that runs through them. These are called your Motivated Skills. Look carefully, or ask a friend to help. These “threads” are very important to recognize. It is going to help you a lot to discover the underlying building blocks of the things that motivate you and ultimately give you pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. We will see that these threads will probably also run through the jobs you have liked the best and will also appear in your “Perfect Job”.

In my own case, one of the accomplishments that was on top of the list was coming first or winning on the debating team in Grade nine. I remembered the topic, how I worked hard to research, how scared I was to go on stage and debate, after all EVERYONE was watching. It was an assembly at school. Then I did my presentation, had to think on my feet to do the rebuttal, and then I sat down and waited for the verdict.

They announced the third place person first, then the second place person, which left only two of us, and then the winner, which was me! I recounted how I was at once proud and nervous walking across the stage to get my little trophy, shook hands with the presenter, listened to the applause, looked out at the audience and walked back to my seat. I even recalled my friends congratulating me later and the sense of fun and pride it was. I kept that little trophy for a long time.

My perfect job revolves around sales and teaching. It was easy to see the “threads” of public speaking, defending or presenting an opinion or belief, overcoming my fears, and winning. My career has taken several twists and turns, and I have done a considerable amount of volunteer work, and when I step back, I can see what is common in the stories that point me in certain directions when I consider what I want in a career.

For those who do this exercise, and none of these stories point at work related things, you may want to consider how you can achieve these types of things outside of work. Then the job is not the primary focus. I know that is true of my Kung Fu Instructor. His passion and thrill in life, his calling and unquestionable commitment is his Kung Fu School that he works on every night and Saturday. His “Job” is something totally unrelated that provides him with the needed income to live and provide for his family, and still run the school. However, he brings the same mastery and focus to his job that he practices in Kung Fu, so in reality, his passion and calling in action always. Cool.

Here are some questions that may help the process along:

How did you get attracted to this place or event in the first place?

Talk about the feeling around the event or the situation itself, the people, the other factors or other side details.

What did you find you liked the most? Enjoyed the most?

What was the main achievement for you? Any others?

What was going on with the other people, were you leading, supporting, following?

If you had to give the event a title, what would it be?

In what way did you do your best or really stretch yourself?

What risks did you take?

What fears did you overcome?

Who else benefited from this, who and how?

There is a form you can download to help summarize your observations. In this form, you get to list the elements and skills or strengths you demonstrated and do this for each of the five stories, then tally of the common elements. You will see what I mean instantly when you see the form. Click here for the Story Summary Sheet.

Well Done!

The biggest part of the preparation work is done!

My hope is that things are starting to take shape for you. Many people resist doing the work. This gets in the way of developing a good plan, idea of the next step, and fuel to discover a good long-term target for you. When the target clears up, as it will through these exercises, the going get a LOT better. The reason this is true is that you will have an internal picture that you know you are working on as well as towards a bigger picture for your life. It may mean that you have to take a step or two that are not altogether satisfying, BUT, when you have a good long term picture it is much easier to work through these times, because you know you are working on a long term goal.

Two people may be doing the same mundane job. One has no goal or picture and lets the job pull them down. The other knows why they are here, that it is not permanent, and it is leading them in the right direction. Which one of those do you want to be?

Step 3: The Perfect Job