Do you ever get the sense that you don’t know what you’ve accomplished at work? I know this is an odd question, but it’s something you need to think about as you’re searching for work, as well as while you’re working.
I was talking with a colleague and dwelling on the fact that I felt I haven’t accomplished as much as I would have liked. “What do you mean,” she said. “You’ve developed tons of workshops and get great reviews. You started a LinkedIn group and developed three workshops on LinkedIn. That shows innovation….” Enough already I thought; I got the point. I’m simply too close to…me…I guess. I need to step back and hear from others what I’ve accomplished.
Laura-Smith Proulx addresses this quandary very nicely in a blog entry on writing your résumé in 3 Easy Ways to Overcome the Challenge of Résumé Writing.
“Most executive leaders and skilled professionals are subject matter experts in all types of leadership competencies, from strategic planning to team delegation,” she writes. “However, when asked to describe their strengths, most of them will resort to tactical or skills-based descriptions, rather than illustrating the ways in which they add strategic value.”
Plainly speaking, even high-performing jobseekers have a hard time seeing what they’ve accomplished, who they are. While important in writing a powerful résumé, there are other aspects of your job search that require self-knowledge.
Here’s what you do to gain the self-knowledge to see what you’ve accomplished at work.
- First and most importantly ask others you work with (or worked with) about what you’ve accomplished. Don’t look in the mirror, because you’ll be distracted by your waistline, loss of hair, complexion, or anything that is physical awry. Others (we’ll call them allies) can see the greatness in you because they have different perspectives. At this point you only have one…yours.
- After you’ve listen to what your allies say, make a list of 10-15 accomplishments, maybe double this amount if you’re an executive level jobseeker. Writing your list will etch your accomplishments in your mind. Review this list over and over until you can remember the details.
- Devise or revise a résumé that clearly reflects your accomplishments. Don’t be concerned about length; you’ll modify your résumé for each job, removing the accomplishments that aren’t pertinent as you send your résumé to A-list companies. Show your new résumé to your allies and ask for their opinions, focussing on the positives.
- Write seven or so unique stories that tell about your major accomplishments. If you want more guidance on this, read Katharine Hansen’s book, Tell Me About Yourself, Chapter 2: How to Develop Career-Propelling Stories. She talks about loads of important skills employers are looking for that are ideal for your stories. You’ll want to modify your stories for different situations, and this will further help you in gaining self-knowledge. Again, show your stories to your allies.
- Rehearse your stories. Recite them to friends, family, networking partners, to anyone who will listen. Relating your stories to others will give you a sense of pride and increase your self-esteem. This is a key component in understanding who you are.
You know what you’ve done, but how can you tell effective stories that illustrate your worth to your current/past employers? How can you show your worth to prospective employers if you’re having a hard time seeing them? It’s as if your accomplishments might be hidden in a bush, always there but unseen by you. The answer is asking for help from those who know you.