by Jane Anderson, Columnist & Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]H[/su_dropcap]ERE’S THE BOOK I’ve been waiting for since 1985. I stared blankly at an email from my manager instructing me to send him a list of all my accomplishments for the year, and include a self-assessment. Wasn’t that his job? Nobody told me that it would be my responsibility to recite my successes to the person who should know what I know. While that was for my first annual performance review, it certainly wasn’t my last. I read this book, wishing with every page, that Rick Gillis had written it long ago.
From the first page of the book, make no mistake, readers learn that it is their own responsibility to make sure those who hold the key to their success know the value they bring to their jobs every day. Let’s just call it “informing your way to the top.” Who better to teach you how to do this than a nationally recognized career coach?
Stop a minute and do some simple calculation. From the time you join the working community until you settle into a retirement career, how many years will you have spent on your working career? About 40 years, right? This is why you want to read this book and learn how to advance in whatever chosen field you are in at the moment or to move into something else. Unlike celebrities, who have a whole menagerie of people working to promote them, you have you. And you are enough. You are going to learn how to be your own publicity machine.
It’s not who you know. It’s not even what you know. It’s who knows what you know that makes a career.”
Nobody likes a boaster. Nobody wants to be a boaster. Nobody wants to be remembered as a boaster, so don’t be one. Instead, take stock of your value and contributions, the asset you bring to the organization through your performance. You might work in close proximity to your manager, but they have no clue of how you use your talents constructively for the team. Look around and you’ll see that you are not flying solo here. There are other people on your team. You don’t want to get lost in the crowd so you must actively promote YOU because nobody else is going to.
Be cognizant of what you do so at any moment you can express how you are adding value to the organization today, last week, and even last year. Establish the professional mindset that you bring value to the organization and be able to recite, with precision, what you do.
Here’s the plan for developing a Professional Mindset and documenting it in an Accomplishments Statement. This statement is ‘insider information’ about you. It proclaims your current and future value to the organization. It makes you memorable. In the book, the author includes an excellent example of an Accomplishments Statement. It’s not what you think. It’s not a brag sheet. It’s a truthful, quantitative inventory of accomplishments.
Here was an inspiration moment. When we’re asked to annotate our extraordinary achievements, we are struck speechless. Why is that? As Rick Gillis points out, we are reluctant to claim ‘achievement’ when we are just ‘doing our job’. A Professional Mindset would instead recognize that, “You were hired because someone believed you would produce more value for the organization than you would cost.” As long as you continue to do that, when your accomplishments surpass your costs, you remain valuable to the company.
Regardless of your age or your position, you have a variety of values tangible, intangible, and intrinsic. Your contributions in any one of those areas counts and is worth promoting.
Sourcing your accomplishments
Keep a list with explanations of your accomplishments. Whether you are at the beginning of your career, in the middle, or heading toward the last few years of it, you need visibility. Make good notes and add as much detail as you remember. What you say has to be fact and you must be impeccable in stating what you have achieved. Here’s something I had never thought of. “When someone asks you, “How did you do that?” what they are really asking is, “Can you do that for me?”
Who are you going to call?
Rick Gillis calls this the ‘heavy lifting’ part of the Accomplishment Statement. Your memory will eventually be drained of things accomplished and you will need to tap into family and friends to get their additions for your list. Reach out to them with a phone call, not email. The author warns that email is historically ineffective at getting a response. Use your voice. This is just one sample question suggested for seeking endorsements from individuals. “When you and I worked together what difference did I make?”
How to craft a compelling accomplishment
This is where you really need this book, if you are serious about investing in yourself and putting the structure in place to support your list of accomplishments. There are key factors resident in every statement, but this is a not-to-be missed chapter on crafting statements so they powerfully convey your accomplishments. I’ll give you two hints, but seriously, get the book.
Accomplishments trump discrimination on the job
OK true, discrimination is not dead. Some employers like to bend the equal opportunity laws. This chapter says the winning ticket is your proven ability, your accomplishments, that either makes the company money or saves the company money. Your Accomplishments Statement could be the antidote for discrimination.
Format informal presentation
Lest you think this was just an exercise in memory recall and a rhetorical regurgitation of your resume, this chapter discusses the serious nature of pulling it all together for presentation. Make it look like the Cadillac of documents. Font, headings, margins, no typos. You don’t know where this document will land or whose hands it will pass through.
Early in the book Rick describes the resume as somewhat of a career obituary. As morbid as that may sound, think of it. Isn’t a resume the story of your past, displayed in monotone? On the other hand your Accomplishment Statement describes what you have done that makes you the best candidate for a promotion, a better job, a salary increase, a new career.
You know. Nobody likes a braggart. Nobody wants to work with a glory seeker or gold digger. But who doesn’t want to work with someone who has impeccable credentials, substantiated experience and has a sense of accomplishment because it is well deserved? Rick Gillis has been known as the ‘Job Search Mechanic’ and the ‘Accomplishments Mechanic’. “Rick aggressively promotes the concept that everyone should be recognized and well rewarded for their knowledge, skills and expertise on the job. I do too. Promote! It’s who knows what you know that makes a career.