Stories of your accomplishments provide an effective way to convey this value to others.  Future employers learn more from your telling how you succeeded than almost anything else you can say.



A story is about a time when we enjoyed our work and were recognized for it.  A story happened once.  You may have performed a task (sold, analyzed, coded, designed, managed) 1000 times.  A story is about one of those times.


1- – Carry a piece of paper with you and jot down the stories as you remember them.  We often take our accomplishments for granted; they are not always easy to recall.  Here are ways to prompt your memory.

  • Start with a job description and think of something you did in that job for a particular boss or client.
  • Recall a time when you had a reaction (relief, satisfaction, anger, disappointment) and reconstruct from there.
  • Think of something you did many times and reconstruct one instance. Your resume bullets all represent one or more stories.
  • For a skill or ability you like to exercise, recall a satisfying time when you got to do it.
  • Look at old performance reviews.


OK Story (Job description)   Better Story (Accomplishment)
Wrote press releases           Got extensive media coverage for new product launch by releasing via social media

Delivered speeches              Delivered speech to mortgage bankers’ association to get new German business

Coordinated project             Coordinated blood drive for division

Excellent sales                      Placed in the top 10% in regional sales for 3 years by developing coverage sharing



      Worked with president and product managers to discuss product potential and details.

–      Developed promotional plan. Found we had insufficient budget; successfully renegotiated costs and still achieved 30% penetration. 

–      Conducted five-week direct-mail campaign prior to conference to create product buzz.

–      Trained all product demonstrators to make sure they each presented our product in the same way.

–      Rented the best suite to entertain conference prospects; had teasers put under everyone’s door every day of conference.

–      Developed month-end procedure that resulted in zero delayed closings and faster reconciliations.

–      Planned product launch that resulted in 450 letters of intent from 1500 participants. 



  • Stories can be very small, for instance, when you changed someone’s mind in a meeting. Big stories like managing a project are made up of many smaller stories.
  • Stories happened once. For types of things you did many times, pick one to develop.  Don’t worry if you don’t recall all the details.
  • Good stories show working well with others and a focus on the organization’s priorities.
  • Recall when something went wrong, and you subsequently made it right.


2- Choose the most satisfying stories and write down what happened in more detail.  Aim for 4-7.  Consider including at least one accomplishment from work and one from outside work.


3- Fill out the ‘Experience’ and ‘Timeline questions below for each chosen story.  What commonalities and differences do you see in the stories?


Brief description of a specific accomplishment





Your Experience

What was the main accomplishment? (e.g., built a widget, delivered $3k project on time, led a team of 3)


What did you enjoy most? (e.g., working on a team, the calculations, being the person who double checked each result)


What skills were involved? (e.g., negotiation, organization, persistence, motivation)


What did you do best? (e.g., kept everyone happy, designed a time saving lesson plan)


What was your key motivator? (e.g., please the boss, prove I could do it, part of job)


What were your relationships to others? (e.g., leader, team member, alone)


What was the subject matter? (e.g., music, classroom, trees, budgets)



Story Timeline

What was the environment, where were you working? (e.g., your employer, your position & characteristics: office, relaxed, challenging, creative, outdoors)


What was the trigger?  How did you get involved? (e.g., assigned, thought by yourself)


What was your reaction?  How did you feel?  How did you plan to proceed?  How did you start?


What happened when you moved forward?  What changed?


What did not go according to plan?  Did someone resist or object?


What did you do to recover?


What changed as a result of your actions? How much? Who acknowledged the improvement?