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woman at desk with papers showing charts and graphsOne of my favorite things about good marketers is their ease with numbers. It’s a regular part of a marketer’s job to report on the success of campaigns and programs. They know business targets, and they measure the number of eyeballs their marketing tactics connect with and how many window shoppers they convert to buyers. I often think marketers have a leg up on their counterparts over in PR in this regard because while both are equally important, their work is, in some ways, easier to measure.

So, how do we talk about measurable outcomes of our own careers?

It always surprises me when I see countless resumes and LinkedIn profiles talking about job candidates’ “significant impact” and how they are “team leaders,” but there are no numbers to show results.

You might think this is only an issue for those with less experience, but you’d be surprised to know that I see this even in senior level candidates.

The biggest reason I hear for a lack of measurable specifics is that people are so focused on doing their jobs that they never stopped to think about their own contributions. They don’t have the numbers to describe what they’ve done because they don’t know what their goals are for their own careers.

Not only does including numbers help demonstrate your accomplishments, if you are applying for a job that has specific metrics in the job description, including data helps computer reviewers tell if you’re a fit, and with 75% of all resumes going through applicant tracking systems, you’ll want to make sure your resume makes the grade. Even when AI isn’t doing the first pass, that recruiter screening resumes needs to see results.

Here are my tips for collecting and incorporating data into your own career tracking system:

  • Set goals and objectives for your career: Just like any marketing or communications strategy, the first step is to know where you want to end up before you jump into tactics. Your goals should be big and aspirational and should align with your career vision. Your objectives should be measurable and specific. Do you want to make the jump to the director level? What does that job require? What steps do you need to be able to take to demonstrate that you’re ready to make the move?
  • Understand the business goals of your organization: Part of being able to show the value of your work is being able to describe how it contributed to the goals of the business. Did you manage accounts that generated $1 million in revenue for the company? Did you head up a campaign that bumped up conversions by 18%? Knowing what matters to the business helps you track how you’re part of its success.
  • Start now: The toughest time to think about describing your results is after you’ve already left a job. It’s difficult to go back in time and recreate what you did, and you probably won’t have access to information you need once you’re gone. One good place to start is with your last annual review. You and your boss probably talked about what you need to be doing to demonstrate how you’re tracking against expectations. If you’ve been in your job for a while and you don’t have a record of your key accomplishments, now is the time to start. You’ll be surprised by how much your boss appreciates your awareness of how your role is important, and your own assessment of how you’re doing. By the way, it’s a really good idea to share your accomplishments with your boss before performance reviews and pay increase periods, too.
  • Focus on outcomes instead of outputs: Just saying that you produced five campaigns or wrote 10 press releases might describe what you did, but it’s important to be able to show the result of your work and why it mattered. If you wrote one press release that got you five placements in major market news outlets that was followed by a 3% increase in sales, that shows that you know how to measure the benefit of your work, not just that you’re good at keeping yourself busy.
  • Check in quarterly: While it’s important to keep track of how you’re doing, you want to keep your data reporting manageable. If you do a quick check every three months or so on how you’re doing against your goals, you can keep your data fresh without being overwhelmed by the process. Keep a copy of your quarterly updates on your home computer. I’ve heard too many stories of people who left this great information on their work laptop and no longer have access to it.

Keep in mind that having data to show your accomplishments isn’t just for when you’re looking for a job. It’s important to measure the success of your efforts against your own career plan. Tracking your own progress is one of the best ways to be intentional in your career. It will prevent you from guessing at what your current boss and next employer want, and it can help you crystalize what you’re about. That makes you a better employee and a better candidate.