When was the last time you put context behind your words in your resume or interview? Of course, the words you say or write have meaning, but the measurable results and/or change increase in importance when you add context. And too often it’s left for the interviewer to interpret the context. If you want to land that HR or payroll position the single biggest mistake people, make sure when it comes to sharing their accomplishments is providing results without context. Saying that you found a savings 15 percent by improving HR and payroll processes without noting the market conditions or goals doesn’t say much.
Other important pieces of context include why you made the decision(s) you did and how they differed from what the typical approach may have been. You want to stand out in your interview – so make sure your competitive advantages don’t go unsaid. You may be tempted to be humble – but that’s for another day – an interview is no place for the shy, meek, or humble. An interview is a chance to share who you are and why you’re the right person for the job. Other candidates aren’t going to be humble, so find that balance between cocky and meek.
One way to put your accomplishments in context is called the “STAR” method – Situation, Task, Action, and Results.
Start with positioning the situation, why there was a problem to be overcome, and what was the downside of not addressing it. Was this an apparent problem or did you uncover it and take it on with your own initiative? When setting up the situation, it can be helpful to share its overall impact to your organization and if possible, tie it into high-level strategic initiatives.
From there describe the task, taken to solve the problem and your role. It will then dovetail into the specific actions you took and ultimately the positive results.
Your results are your context – and they can be communicated in quantified beyond a dollar figure saved or earned. Dollars are just part of the context – you can also consider time saved, quality improvements, safety realized, compliance reached, etc.
If your accomplishments are still hard to put into context, let others do it – share what what others have said about your achievements and their impacts to your department and organization.