Know what your performance evidence is

When applying for a job, examples of execution carry more weight when they are quantifiable

"Hiring me will add value to your operation."

"I'm prepared to take on the biggest challenges and come out a winner!"

"You can count on me to tackle all obstacles and generate profit growth simultaneously."

Having the confidence and drive to be strongly competitive in this dog-eat-dog hiring climate is great. The meek don't appear to be in the lead in inheriting this earth in any way that says employment success. Reaching out, promoting — in short, selling yourself, is as combative as ever in employment and those with the stomach and skill for it can come out ahead.

But making claims of greatness can be as fragile as a house of cards in the wind unless there is substance to back up your superlative declarations. You can't call yourself a star performer if there isn't some credible performance evidence to show in fact you can do the things you said you could do.

Knowing what counts as solid performance evidence in your field and being able to clearly cite examples of your achievement in these areas boosts your standing among those making hiring decisions. These deciders can be listening about your performance affirmations at a networking event or in an interview. They can be reading about them in your resume or on your LinkedIn profile. However they learn about those valuable accomplishments of yours that scream, "I'm qualified!" the better off your career can be.

So what really matters in the work you do? Is it meeting quotas, raising profits, mitigating threats, improving lifestyles, expanding market share, stopping hunger, bringing joy to others, elevating student test scores, saving lives, or any number of the important things that show you have done what you were hired to do? We all have a rather limited set of crucial outcomes or objectives to realize in our jobs. Knowing exactly what they are and keeping track of your attainment of these goals is a good place to start in identifying your performance evidence.

Quantitative achievements

Examples of execution carry more weight when they are quantifiable. Numbers can take a statement from subjective to objective, from opinion to fact. But be strategic about the quantities you select in your power statements. Now let's say that I'm trying to prove to stakeholders that I am an excellent retail store manager. Do I talk about how demanding it is to track inventory, handle customers and make good hourly-wage hires? That may all be true, but they don't speak to performance.

Instead, talk about numbers of units sold and employees supervised. Mention specifically how much you reduced operational costs and grew annual sales. Point out the increased percentages of surveyed customer satisfaction and improvements in associate training sessions.

If vetting a candidate, which would you rather hear or read about that person's accomplishments:

"Reduced expenses related to manufacturing operations." vs. "Reduced costs, inventories and cycle times of manufacturing operations, resulting in 52%–68% gross margin increase, 4–10 annual inventory turn increase, and 25% cycle time decrease."

Or how about this:

"Managed operational and capital budgets." vs. "Furnished operational and capital budgets for 18 commercial properties, comprising over $30M in expenditures for over 3.5 million square feet of space."

Not all professions embed the collection of performance data into their jobs like sales, financials and medicine, among others. Sometimes it may be necessary for you to do your own logging, even if it's retrospective. Sure it's a hassle, but in less than an hour, and maybe with some help from those who know your work well, you can compile a generous list of quantitative achievements from your recent past. This information can then be presented as demonstrations of your good efforts and workplace worth.

Communicating in terms of performance evidence to hiring managers and recruiters strengthens your position as a job search candidate. So go ahead and announce with confidence your capabilities and potential, but reinforce the message with deeds that count.

Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289 or