Tag Archives: Networking

Job-seeker buddy groups: 6 pros, 2 cons

How do you react when you hear the word networkingDo you feel uncomfortable, roll your eyes, or even break out in a sweat? You’re not alone if the prospect of networking doesn’t make you jump for joy. Truth be known, most people don’t relish the idea of networking.

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Truth also be known, networking remains the most effective way to get referred for jobs that aren’t advertised. According to Jobvite.com, 40% of hires come from referrals, twice the number than the next option, the company’s website. So networking seems like a no-brainer.

I’m not here to say you shouldn’t network. I’m here to say try networking in a different way. Join a buddy group.

Pros of Buddy Groups

Smaller and more intimate

Buddy groups generally number six—some smaller, others larger. In a smaller group, members keep track of each other, making it easier for the members to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that fit each other. This is not always possible with large networking groups, which consist of 20 to 80 people.

Large groups can also be intimidating, which leads me to my next benefit of buddy groups.

Ideal for introverts

Speaking as an introvert, I’m more comfortable in smaller group settings than large groups. The size of buddy groups makes it easier to know each member and develop deeper relationships, which is ideal for introverts.

This is not to say introverts will back away from large networking groups. If they attend larger groups, their goal is to talk to fewer people to have deeper conversations. Extraverts, on the other hand, enjoy “working the room.”

Members are held accountable

Buddy groups that gather on a regular basis  are more likely to hold their members accountable for their job-search actions. If, for example, a member says during a meeting, that he will schedule four coffee meetings the following week, he will be questioned about scheduling those meetings the next time the group meets.

Keeping track of job seekers at large networking groups is extremely difficult. Often job seekers will come an go to large networking groups. You might see some members sporadically.

Meetings can be mobile

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Unlike large networking groups which are held at the same place, at the same time;  buddy groups can be held at different locations. Because buddy groups are usually held where its members prefer, there are more options. Perhaps the location is decided  based on each members’ hometown, or the members’ choice of cafe, as examples.

On the other hand, buddy group member might prefer holding their meetings at the same location for consistency.  I know of one buddy group that meets at the same restaurant before their large networking event.

Joining one requires an invitation

Buddy groups can be formed to include members who share similar interests and occupations. Software engineers, project managers, hardware engineers might create a skills share group, consisting of six to 10 people, who gather to work on a project.

Or the members of a buddy group might prefer a variety of occupations. As one job seeker said, “We would all be applying to the same jobs, and I think that would make it more competitive, when it should be supportive.”

Gets you out of the house

As inconsequential this may sound, getting out your house where you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for six hours a day, until it starts humming at you; it’s important for your state of mind.

This will be part of your routine. You’ll look forward to meeting with your buddies at a specific time, maybe a particular place–although as stated earlier, the location might change.

Read 6 tips for getting out of your house during your job search.

Some Cons of Buddy Groups

Although great in concept, buddy groups can have their drawbacks. After all, they are intimate groups that meet on a consistent basis. With consistency comes conflict.

Might become stagnant

One of buddy groups’ strengths, their consistent meetings, can be a weakness. Undoubtedly there will be times when the meeting is not as productive as the members would like.

I run a “job club” at an urban career center, and I will be the first to say that sometimes the meetings fall flat. Structure is important. But for structure to be successful, the activities must be of interest to the members of the group.

Members might not be the right fit

Like working in a team, some members don’t fit. This can happen with buddy groups, as well. A member or two might not pull their weight, dominate the conversations, be too negative.

I asked a member of a buddy group what the group would do in a case where a member is hurting the group. She said deadpan, “Ask them to leave.” It’s easier said than done, but it might come to this.


There are far more benefits than disadvantages of a buddy group. One I haven’t mentioned is the moral support job seekers gain from their buddy groups. I don’t encourage buddy groups be a platform for people to bemoan their situation, but there must be times when they can let out their frustrations.

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10 ways that test your courage in the job search

Although I understand my workshop attendees’ reluctance to speak in front of their peers, I also think when given the opportunity, they should take it. They should, for example, deliver their elevator pitch without warning. “Tell me about yourself” is a directive they will most likely get in an interview.

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They should also not pass on answering interview questions I spring on them. Can they take the fifth during an interview? Hell no.

“Tell me about a time when you solved a problem at work,” I’ll ask. “I’d rather not,” they say. Okay, see how well that goes over at an interview.

Some of you might disagree with my insistence that they deliver their unrehearsed commercial or answering an interview question when they least expect it.

You might think it’s putting them on the spot, making them feel uncomfortable, testing their courage. Darn tooting it’s testing their courage. Despite what anyone says, the job search requires courage.

1. Being put on the spot in front of other job seekers by having to deliver your personal commercial or answer difficult interview questions on the spot, are some ways that test your courage. There are nine other difficult ways your courage will be tested in the job search:

2. Telling people you’re out of work. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but how can people help you if they don’t know you’re out of work? People tell me they’re embarrassed because they lost their job, even if the company was suffering and had to release employees.

I encourage them to let as many people as possible know they’re looking for a job, even if it means they’ll be embarrassed. It takes courage to do this, but it’s counterproductive to try to go it alone.

3. Attending organized networking events. You’ve read that “no one likes networking events.” This may be true for you, for others, for most. But networking events offer the opportunity to engage in conversation with other job seekers who are at these events to seek leads, as well as provide leads and advice to you.

4. Having others read your résumé or cover letter. Although you think you’ve written a great cover letter, you may be surprised by what others think about it. Like the time my wife told me she thought cover letter was “verbose.”

I’m not sure she used that word, but I got the picture that someone reading it would think it intimidating or laborious. Asking her to read my cover letter took courage and prompted me to edit it.

5. Participate in mock interviews. This may be the closest you’ll get to an actual interview. Mock interviews are a valuable teaching tool and any organization that offers them is providing a great service.

But they don’t have to be conducted by a professional job coach/advisor; a friend of yours can conduct them. Having a camera to record your answers and body language is a big plus. I remember being asked to participate in a mock interview years ago. I flatly refused. I lacked courage then.

6. Reaching out to your LinkedIn connections. Introverts may understand this act of courage more than their counterpart. Your LinkedIn connections are not bona fide connections until you reach out to them in a personal way, as in a phone call or meeting them for coffee.

Some of the connections I’ve reached out to have proven to be great networking partners, while others had little in common with me. Oh well. Doing this takes courage.

7. Approaching former supervisors for LinkedIn recommendations. My workshop attendees often ask me if they should reach out to their former supervisors for a recommendation. My answer is a resounding “Yes.”

This may take courage for some, but having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile is a must. What your supervisor feels about your performance weighs heavier than how you describe yourself. What’s the worst your supervisor could say? Yep, “No.”

8. Getting off the Internet. Not completely, but use it seldom and in different ways. Instead of defaulting to your comfort zone like Monster.com and other job boards, use LinkedIn to find relevant connections through its Companies feature, and visit your target companies’ websites to conduct research on the labor market.

Contact those companies with a networking email  to ask for networking meetings. This takes courage but will yield better results than using the job boards alone.

9. Speaking of networking meetings. Otherwise known as informational interviews, networking meetings have been the reason for many of my job seekers’ success in landing jobs. But they don’t come easy, as many people are busy, so it takes courage to ask for them.

Once you’ve secured a networking meeting, remember you’re the one asking questions about a position and the company, so make the questions intelligent ones. You’re not there asking for a job; you’re there to gather information and get advice.

10. Going to the interview. You’ve prepared for the interview by doing your research and practicing the tough interview questions, both traditional- and behavioral-based. You’re prepared, but still you don’t know what to expect.

How will the interviewers react to you? Will they ask you questions you’re not prepared for, ones you didn’t predict? Job interviews will require the most courage you can muster…even you veteran interviewees.


Readers, what I’ve described as courage may seem like logical  and comfortable job search activities. You may thrive on networking, feel comfortable showing others your résumé, and, above all else, attending interviews.

To you I say “touché. Many others may understand exactly what I’m talking about. To them I say embrace the challenges presented to you in the job search. Show courage. Show courage. Show courage.

5 reasons job seekers dread networking events, and what to do about it

How do you react when you hear the word “networking?” Do you feel uncomfortable, roll your eyes, or even break out in a sweat? You’re not alone if the prospect of networking doesn’t make you jump for joy. Truth be known, most people don’t relish the idea of networking.

Scared Networker

Truth also be known, networking remains the most effective way to get referred for jobs that aren’t advertised. According to Jobvite.com, 40% of hires come from referrals, twice the number than the next option, the company’s website.

So why do job candidates react negatively when they hear the word “networking?”

Here are five common reasons why networking is dreaded, and what you can do about it:

1. You think it’s too late

Most job seekers have one thing – and one thing only – on their minds: landing a job. Their finances are suffering and their state of mind is in shambles. There’s no time to waste. They need to find a job now.

This sense of urgency is only heightened when you need to develop an effective network immediately – a network you should have developed while you were working.

Unfortunately, many people don’t think about networking when they’re gainfully employed. They feel secure in their positions, or they consider it to be in bad taste; both conclusions are false.

What you should do: Tell yourself that it isn’t too late. As we’ve heard many times, networking is all about building and maintaining relationships. To build relationships requires some give and take. You need to be patient, despite the urgency that is consuming you.

I tell my workshop attendees, “The next job you land, make sure you keep up with your networking – which means also letting people know about jobs that exist (unadvertised) at your company.” Think not only of yourself, but also of others who are looking for work.

2. You’re outside your comfort zone

Introverts are particularly prone to feeling uncomfortable during networking events. Many of these events consist of hoards of people huddled together in a library, church, or other free space.

These environments can be hard on an introvert – but it also makes effective networking hard for everyone. To be effective when networking, you need relaxed conversations before you can deliver your elevator pitch. Often this is not the case.

What you should do: Develop a game plan. If you’re introverted, don’t expect to “work the room.” Rather, plan to speak with a few people. Be sure to arrive with some questions for particular people, as well as a few talking points.

Put the people with whom you speak at ease. Don’t jump into your elevator speech immediately. You’ll probably flub it. Instead, talk about current events, the weather, what brought the person there, etc.

3. You have to talk about yourself

I hear it all the time. “I can talk about other people, but when it comes to me, I can’t do it.” Or, “It feels like bragging.” Look at it this way: you’re not bragging; you’re promoting yourself when the time is right.

Simply networking

For example, you wouldn’t declare during dinner that your gift to employers is that you increase productivity. However, when you’re asked during a networking event or connecting in the community, these are ideal places to let people know what you do and how well you do it.

What you should do: Talking about what you do and the value you deliver to employers should come across as normal conversation. Use your own voice and style to do this. Don’t rely on some formula you learned from career pundits. It may not work for you.

If talking about yourself or making small talk is not your thing, go to events with the purpose of listening to others. Ask questions and add your input on occasion. My warning here is that you don’t allow people to take advantage of your willingness to listen.

4. You believe you have to attend organized events

I’ve always insisted that there is no single environment that’s best for networking. Networking can happen everywhere, whether you’re at a family gathering, a sporting event, a summer BBQ, a religious meeting place, or pretty much anywhere else.

Networking is about building relationships. True. But many an opportunity has arisen when least expected. Say you’re watching your kid’s soccer game and you overhear a woman talking about how she can’t get good help in her Q.A. department.

You’re in Q.A. You politely introduce yourself and mention this bit of information. Before you know it, the woman is asking for your personal business card.

What you should do: See everywhere you go as an opportunity to network. Let me illustrate. Many years ago, my cousin Johnny attended a family gathering, at which he explained his situation and the type of work he was looking for. I considered this incredibly tacky.

Jump to five years later when there was an IT opening at the software company for which I worked. I remembered what Johnny said the day of the party and recommended him to our CFO. He was hired for the position.

5. You expect instant gratification

I’ll admit that going to networking events can be disheartening at times, especially if I don’t leave with at least two or three quality contacts. But after feeling sorry for myself, I reason that the next time will be better.

I remember running into a job seeker who attended a networking event we sponsored. I asked him if he found the event useful. His response was that he didn’t get anything out of it. No one from his industry was there.

What you should do: Do not expect great things the first or second time you attend an event. Be patient. Also, learn how to tell people in an understandable way what you do and how you can help employers. This will help you find leads or obtain great advice sooner rather than later.

The job seeker I mentioned wasn’t keeping an open mind. He should have been thinking of the bigger picture. For example, did anyone know someone at his target companies? Or better yet, how could he have helped someone? At the very least, he should have given it a couple more tries.


Networking can be uncomfortable and almost painful for some people, but it’s something we must all do. The fact remains that networking accounts for roughly 70 percent of jobs landed by job seekers. It is the most successful way of gaining employment – even if it also feels like the most difficult one.

Photo: Flickr, KELLY L

 

 

 

 

6 reasons why you landed your job

Searching for a job was scary and one of the most difficult times in your life. But you made it. You landed the job you wanted. Your job search took longer than you would have liked, but you persevered for six months.

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When you think about what led you through your journey and to this new opportunity, you can pinpoint 6 distinct reasons:

1. You demonstrated emotional intelligence (EQ).There were times when you felt like throwing in the towel. You felt like staying in bed dreading the days ahead. Your feelings of despondency were unseen by others, save for loved ones and your closest friends.

When you were networking in your community, attending networking groups three times a week, and taking workshops at the local career center, you showed a confident demeanor. You were positive and demonstrated a willingness to help others. Despite negative thoughts, you did your best to help yourself and others.

Read 12 ways to show emotional intelligence.

2. You developed a target company list. Taking the advice of your career advisor, you made a list of companies for which you wanted to work. She told you to spend time researching your target companies and contacting people for networking meetings before jobs were advertised.

You left each networking meeting with different people to contact. You had the sense that one person, a VP of Marketing and Sales, had an interest in you. He led you to the door saying, “We might be in touch with you real soon.” But you didn’t rely on this one occurrence.

You continued to build your target company list and ask for networking meetings. You were spending less time applying for jobs online and more time meeting with quality connections. You were optimistic. You felt productive.

Read 4 components of job-search networking emails.

3. You networked the proper way. At networking events you were attentive to others, while also willing to ask for help. Many people think only of their situation, not of helping others. Not you. You kept your eyes open for opportunities for your networking companions.

When people ask you for leads at companies of interest, you gave them the names of hiring managers in various departments. You became known as the “Connector.” Weeks later, you were happy to learn of one of your networking companions landing a position at a company, based on one of your leads.

You also networked in your community. Told everyone you knew that you were looking for a job and asked them to keep their ears to the pavement. Who would have known that your neighbor across the street would be the reason you landed your job?

He worked at one of your target companies and knew the VP of marketing and would deliver your résumé to him. Put in a good word. You were asked to come in to have a few discussions.

Read 10 ways to make a better impression while networking

4. You wrote killer résumés. Yes, plural. Because you tailored as many of your résumés as possible to each job, knowing that every employer has different needs. A one-fits-all résumé doesn’t work. In addition, you eliminated fluff from your Performance Profile. It’s better to show, rather than tell.

Most importantly, you packed a punch in your Experience section by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results. Results like, “Increased productivity by 80%” sounds better than simply, “Increased productivity.”

Using your network was key in getting your résumé into the hands of the hiring managers, such as the time your neighbor delivered your value-packed résumé to that hiring manager.

Read 8 reasons why hiring authorities will read your résumé.

5. You nailed the interviews at one of your target companies. There were five interviews for the job your neighbor led you to; two telephone, two group, and a one-on-one. You were prepared for each interview, having researched the company, the position, their competition, even the interviewers.

You used LinkedIn to discover who the interviewers were. One was a youth soccer coach, like you. Another had gone to your alma mater. And another was a veteran, so you were sure to thank her for her service. That went over very well.

After each interview you sent unique follow-up notes to every interviewer, ensuring that you mentioned a specific point of interest made by each one. You even sent a thank-you note to the receptionist. Smart move.

After 6 months, you received an email from the VP of marketing telling you they were offering you the position of marketing manager and were also exceeding your salary requirement.

Read 6 ways to interact with one of the most important people in the interview process 

6. Your work was not complete. You didn’t forget the people who helped you along the way, such as the person who helped you revise your résumé, the people with whom you formally networked, and certainly your neighbor who led you to your new job. They deserved thanks.

In the true spirit of networking, there were people who you could help in a more meaningful way, such as Sydney from your networking group who was looking for an engineering position.

There was a mechanical engineer position opening in your new company. You mentioned the position to Sydney and gave her a good word. Wouldn’t you know; you changed Sydney’s life for the better.

Read 6 topics to include in your thank-you notes.

I’ve heard many stories from my clients who have similar plots to this one. Their job search wasn’t easy. Their landing was well deserved. But they had to display EQ, do their research, help others, and be willing to help themselves. If you are dedicated to do the same, your job search will be shorter.

A portion of this post appeared in Recruiter.com

Photo: Flickr Marc Accetta

 

3 reasons why job seekers should blog

My two daughters used to love writing. My oldest preferred expository writing, while my youngest loved dabbling in creative writing, primarily poetry that had taken on an inner angst slant. I loved reading their essays and stories. Proofreading and editing them was a pleasure.

 

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My youngest daughter once asked me if I write. I told her that I do, and she asked if I write for work. This was a tough question to answer because I don’t get paid for blogging, but I see the doors it opens. Blogging is an investment in the future. How do you explain this to a 13-year-old kid?

Now, I tell my clients that blogging can be beneficial to their job search. I’m often met with reactions like, “Be real, Bob.” Here’s what I tell them about blogging for their job search.

Demonstrates your ability to write

If you enjoy writing and are particularly good at it, blogging gives you the perfect platform. Keep in mind that what you write will be read by people who hope to gain some advice from your writing, not your memoir or short stories based on your college years.

Enjoying the act of writing makes it easier to maintain a consistent schedule of posts. Start with one every other week and then increase them to a point where you are blogging once a week.

If you need trusted people to proofread your posts before sending them out, don’t be afraid to ask. Some of my clients have run their posts by me. My comments were usually: “You’re instincts are correct. Run with it.”

It enhances your brand

Blogging is one of many ways you can enhance your online presence. It demonstrates your expertise in your field, especially if what you write is educational and of use to your readers. This means you need to understand the needs of your audience.

I encourage my clients to blog to demonstrate their expertise. “Everyone in this room is an expert at what you do,” I tell them. This is true. From the purchasing agent to the nurse to the software engineer, they all have knowledge to share.

When recruiters, hiring managers, and HR read your posts, they’ll learn more about your expertise and personality than any résumé you write. Use your professional voice. Begin with a story, if you like. Just remember that the purpose of your posts are to educate your audience.

Also, keep your content positive; refrain from bashing former employers. This is one way to severely damage your brand. I’ve seen people submit negative posts on LinkedIn, which remain in the minds of LinkedIn users.

On the plus side, one of my clients went to an interview where the VP of marketing commented that he saw one of my client’s posts shared on LinkedIn. The VP was very impressed with my client’s expertise and offered him the job shortly after the interview.

It’s a great way to network

The third and final reason to blog is to network on social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Provide links in your posts to other bloggers’ posts. They will receive a ping telling them you’ve done this.

Other ways to acknowledge bloggers is by sharing their posts with your LinkedIn connections, tweeting and re-tweeting them, commenting on them, sharing them in your groups, etc. These are all effective ways to develop and strengthen your network.

You’ll find that by supporting other bloggers you will receive some love in return. I wrote a post on the qualities of being a curator called To share is golden. This post illustrates how important it is to not only blog, but to share the work of others. I also listed who I consider to be great curators, and I add to the list from time to time.


So, how do you begin? A connection of mine listened to me bemoan about how I wanted to blog, until she told me to simply do it. After a year of putting it off I finally wrote my first blog with my free WordPress account. And now I consistently blog at least one post a week.

Don’t wait like I did to blog. And think of something that really interests you about your occupation. Don’t expect your first post to be a hit—although it may be. Be patient and stick with it.

You don’t have a WordPress account. LinkedIn makes it easy for first-time bloggers. You can “write an article on the platform,” precluding the need to open a free WordPress account (as I did). The mechanics are straightforward. On your LinkedIn homepage you select “Write an article” and take it from there.


I hope my daughters continue writing in their later years because it is rewarding to the soul. They are excellent writers who will someday make significant contributions to this valuable art. Who knows, maybe one of them will be famous for their writing. One can only hope.

Photo, Flickr, domainermike

A compilation of 18 LinkedIn posts to help you with your job search

If you’re a beginner on LinkedIn, or even well versed on the platform, these are posts I’ve written which can help you use LinkedIn more effectively. As LinkedIn makes changes to its platform, I will update these posts to provide you with relevant advice.

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5 steps to connecting with LinkedIn members

How do you connect with people on LinkedIn? And what are the five steps to take to connect properly. Learn about the feature “Connections of” and how it can be a game player when you’re asking for an introduction or making a “cold call” connection.

8 ways to keep the LinkedIn process from breaking down

In this article I compare building your LinkedIn profile to painting a fence. Great fun writing this one. But seriously, these are the major components to be concerned about.

5 major components of the LinkedIn profile on the mobile app

LinkedIn members need to be aware of the LinkedIn mobile app, as it will soon surpass the use of its computer application. This is one of a three-part series that discusses the LinkedIn profile on the mobile app.

5 LinkedIn mobile app features you need to learn 

Although the LinkedIn mobile app doesn’t offer as much functionality as the desktop version, it is a powerful platform. Check out the differences between the two.

LinkedIn’s mobile app versus the desktop: 8 differences

One gets the feeling that LinkedIn is migrating its desktop platform to its mobile app. Maybe not tomorrow, but gradually. The most obvious hint is the way the desktop’s interface increasingly resembles the app. We noticed this when LinkedIn launched its new, slimmed-down platform almost a year ago.

7 faux pas you may be committing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is not kind to people who commit certain faux pas. Shall we say the LinkedIn police are watching. Be sure not to post irrelevant information, for example. There are six more.

10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn in Strategy

This post highlights 10 of the most important steps you need to take to be successful on LinkedIn. Read part one for the first five steps and then part two for the final five steps.

How to brand yourself with your LinkedIn profile

Part 1 of this series. Creating a profile that brands you is the first step in your LinkedIn campaign. It must include a photo, value added Summary, accomplishment-based Experience section, and other sections that can add to your brand.

How to brand yourself by connecting with others

Part 2 of this series. When hiring authorities look at your profile and see that you only have 30 connections, they’re going to move on to another candidate. Why? Because you’re not in the game. You’re not initiating and nurturing relationships.

6 ways to brand yourself by being active on LinkedIn

Part 3 of this series. To stay top of mind, you must engage with your connections. There are a number of ways to do this. You can share articles you find relevant, share industry advice, ask questions, contribute to discussion on your homepage and/or in groups, and more.

There are 5 LinkedIn contributors; which are you?

Have you ever wondered if you are contributing on LinkedIn enough or too much? Discover which type of LinkedIn user you are.

To share is Golden: 8 reasons to share others’ posts

Sharing what others write is a benefit to not only that person, but a benefit to you as well. You come across as someone who cares about your LinkedIn community. This post includes names of people who are great curators.

9 facts about LinkedIn lite profile vs. the LinkedIn profile we knew

This is one of the more popular posts I’ve written. It addresses the way LinkedIn’s profiles have changed. Even as I’m writing this, I’m sure LinkedIn is making more changes.

Three reasons why the LinkedIn Summary is key for career changers

If you’re changing your career, you’ll want to utilize every character in the Summary and explain your career goal.

The 39 most important words in your LinkedIn Summary*

In this popular post, I address the first 39 (approximately) first words of your Summary. Find out why they are important. This post is a good one to read after the previous one.

Great news; LinkedIn expands the extended Experience section

With the changes  that have taken place to LinkedIn, the company makes right on one change it’s made. Now they might want to return the ability to move the sections on the profile around. Read the next post as well.

5 ways LinkedIn Lite’s anchored sections are hurting its members

You can’t move the Experience section on your resume, nor the Education, nor Skills and Endorsements. What effect does this have on you?

Six steps to take when using LinkedIn networking for a job

You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve been told it’s a great way to network for a job. This post explains how to use LinkedIn to find a job by using LinkedIn.

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