5 ways for job seekers to discover their greatness

“Greatness” I call it, because you have demonstrated it in your career in the form of accomplishments. It has set you apart from your colleagues and competitors. You’ve achieved accomplishments, whether you realize or not.

business lunch

Unfortunately you might be someone who thinks of what you did at work as something…you simply did?

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, initiative, and knowledge….”

Enough already I thought; I get the point. I’m simply too close to…me…I guess. I need to step back and hear from others what I’ve accomplished.

One of my valued connections and an executive résumé writer, Laura-Smith Proulx, explained this quandary of not recognizing one’s accomplishments.

“Most executive leaders and skilled professionals are subject matter experts in all types of leadership competencies, from strategic planning to team delegation. 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 job seekers 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-awareness.

Here’s what you do to gain the self-awareness to see what you’ve accomplished at work.

1. First  and most importantly, ask others you work with (or worked with) about what you’ve accomplished. Invite them to have coffee with you or simply talk with them on the phone.

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. But they’re not as close to what you’ve done as you are. I bet, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2. After you’ve listen to what your allies say, write a list of 10-15 accomplishments, maybe double this amount if you’re an executive level job seeker. Writing your list will etch your accomplishments in your mind. Review this list over and over until you can remember the details.

Don’t confine yourself to work-related accomplishments, although they are of more interest to employers. Next to each duty statement, write the word “Result” or “And.” Sometimes there isn’t a positive result. Leave them off your list.

3. 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, focusing on the positives. Keep in mind that some of your allies may be busy and won’t be able to get back to you immediately. Don’t push.

Read this popular post on receiving opinions on your résumé.

4. 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.

Katharine 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.

5. 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.

As well, your allies will get a better sense of who you are, what  you’ve done, and, most importantly, what you’ve accomplished. By writing and rehearsing your stories, you will better prepare for answering behavioral-based questions.


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. To uncover your greatness, rely on your allies and ask them for help.

Photo: Flickr, Baden-Wuerttemberg

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2 thoughts on “5 ways for job seekers to discover their greatness

  1. Robin Randby

    Your article was helpful because you listed the steps required to uncover greatness, you reiterated the importance of getting outside (my) own head and bounce ideas off others, gather feedback, practice the success stories. Great article. Thank you.

    Like

    Reply

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