Monday, September 18, 2017

When is a Performance Appraisal Like a Resume?

Over the past few months my husband and I have been packing up and moving from our home of 25 years. In the process I found a stack of books and articles that I thought were worth keeping and moving to our next home. One of these is a small booklet called Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals. A guide to Successful Evaluations by James E. Neal Jr. Back in my corporate human resources days I was asked to design a couple of performance appraisal systems and this book was my go to tool for developing specific wording.

The phrasing in the book is designed to help an appraiser select accurate words to describe a variety of competencies. The sentences are positive in that they are worded to show superior performance. For example, under the category of Delegation, one of the phrases says, “Effectively delegates responsibility”. When I used this book to train our leaders, I would ask them to take this sentence further by detailing “how” the staff member effectively delegated responsibility during the performance cycle.  What steps did he or she take, what were the results or return on investment? Similar to setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) performance goals, the resulting behavior should also be described as SMART and be substantiated with facts and figures.

The same thing can be said about writing your resume. Look at the tasks, skills, knowledge and behaviors needed for the position for which you are applying and for the positions that you have held. Next, write out your accomplishments. Ask yourself how you completed these in your past positions. What did you (not your team) do? How did you do it? What were the results of your efforts? Create your own SMART story to describe your successes. Make sure to include the situation, any measurable numbers or percentages, your actions and the impact it made to your department and organization. 

These days having multiple, focused resumes is the norm. Creating them can be easier if frame your tasks and successes in SMART descriptive, positive language.

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