It is a competitive job market out there and being able to quantifying your achievements as an individual is what will give you an edge to secure jobs in Ghana. This has become very crucial since employers nowadays do not make important hiring decisions based on qualifications only. The truth is that they want to find out what you can do and what you are capable of.
But the sad reality is that graduates who have just come out of school and have little or no experience often struggle with how to quantify their accomplishments. Nevertheless, achievements are not only about big numbers. It could involve anything which contributes in one way or the other to the company’s goals. An example could be your contribution as an intern or fresh graduate in a situation, where you were involved in raising funds to charity or a special cause. This could be indicated during an interview as an achievement.
Furthermore, you should be able to document and indicate some achievements from your course or work experience. In so doing, it becomes easy to impress the interviewer with examples of increasing profits, decreasing costs or streamlining processes.
But often when candidates are asked about their achievements, they refer to clichés like: “I had a 2:1”, “I graduated top of my class” or I was Student Representative (SRC) President. Thus, they fail to indicate any palpable results which is crucial and relevant for the role they are interviewing for. Ideally, you must be able to mention something tangible which is measurable e.g. If you helped in fundraising, you should be able to indicate how much you raised.
Nowadays, having a degree is hardly going to make you stand out from the crowd. Everybody is getting one these days and so you need to highlight what makes you different from the other person with the same certificate.
To assist fresh graduates to be able to quantify your accomplishments in a competency based interview, the S-T-A-R technique i.e. Situation, Task, Action, and Results has always been a good resort.
So for instance, a candidate for a marketing executive role might be asked: “Tell me about a time that you solved a problem to a tight timescale.”
In this regard, here’s how you could structure your response:
S (Situation): You need to set the context. You should be able to describe a situation and why the particular achievement in that situation was significant. Indicate what and why the situation was difficult to achieve. E.g.: “We were due to be delivering a presentation to a group of 30 interested industry players on our new product and Kwesi, the guy due to deliver it, got stuck in traffic at Dansoman.”
T (Task): Again, you should be able to indicate to the interviewer what you specifically aimed to achieve. E.g.: “It was my responsibility to find an alternative so it didn’t reflect badly on the company and also to ensure that we didn’t waste the opportunity.”
A (Action/Activity): You should also be able to explain what your specific actions were taken to achieve a goal. Indicate the steps taken to overcome a situation or achieve a goal. E.g.: “I spoke to the event organisers to find out if they could change the running order. They agreed so we bought ourselves some time. I contacted Araba, another member of the team, who at a push could step in. She agreed to drop what she was doing and head to the event.”
R (Result): Specify how well the situation played out and make it a point to be specific about it. If you saved time or money or received great feedback – say it. E.g.: “Kwesi didn’t make the meeting on time but we explained the problem to the delegates and Araba’s presentation went well – a bit rough around the edges but it was warmly received. Kwesi managed to get there for the last 15 minutes to answer questions. As a result we gained some good contacts, at least two of which we converted into paying clients.”
It’s simple. Isn’t it? On the other hand, if you are still struggling to come up with something, think about whether you have done any of these:
- Set up a new student society or turned a struggling one into something more successful
- Given a presentation at an event and got over public speaking worries
- Raised a certain amount of money for charity
- Helped others to succeed, for example, by teaching them a new skill
Additionally, here are some sample achievements you could glean some insights from as a fresh graduate:
- Worked as a part of a team of students who created a multi-media campaign that increased student enrollment by 45%
- Streamlined university admissions office procedures by introducing centralized online enrollment procedures
- Received eight awards for drama and music during the three years spent at university
Also, note that you can choose a professional achievement that is related to the role, such as exceeding sales targets in your part-time job. Remember to quantify your achievements and in doing so, it is more important that it’s an achievement you’re genuinely proud of.