Let me start by asking you a question -
do you feel unskilled at advocating for yourself and unsure of how to be proud of your work and accomplishments?
If you answered yes, then this blog post is for you.
Over the years, I have seen a common thread while mentoring tech community members – they do the hard work but they have poor self-esteem and self-worth. They do some amazing work, they have positively impacted so many lives, however, they don’t know how to showcase their work.
We humans tend to get demotivated over time and lose confidence in our own abilities. This impacts relationship with co-workers and even job interviews. Now some might not agree with me, but it is a harsh reality of today’s world; If you do not talk about your body of work, who will?
If you have attended my talks, then you would have heard me say this hundreds of times – BE YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER...!
If you do 99 things right and 1 mistake, which one do you obsess over?
Well, we typically obsess over that 1 mistake, because we are hard-wired to look at that one negative comment. Our memories are fickle, we tend to remember things that have stronger emotions associated with them. So how do you ensure that our minds do not obsess only on the negative, but also see the positives?
It’s simple, WRITE IT DOWN!
Trust me on this, I have done this activity with many of my mentees and it works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Identify the broad categories of your body of work – projects, volunteering, public speaking, blogging, social media, soft skills, certifications etc. Once you have identified the broad categories, list down all the achievements you can think of in these categories. It doesn’t matter if it is significant or not. This is YOUR list, and you don’t have to be ashamed of anything.
Are you usually quiet and you spoke up in your team meeting? Write it down! Pat on your back for overcoming the shyness, the fear. No one is going to judge you.
Once you write down the list, start adding meat to it.
For example, this is an actual excerpt from one of my mentees in Public Speaking category:
Conducted sessions for college students on zoom for Universities like X Y Z to spread awareness on Cloud, Helped students to be Market ready and mentor them for their innovative projects.
Now, if you are a recruiter or a manager who is building a case for your promotion, what would be your first reaction? do you get any idea on the impact of work here? No.
What about this..
Regularly conducts virtual sessions for college students for major universities like X Y Z, to spread awareness on Cloud. She continues to mentor students on their innovative projects, career guidance and be market ready.
Great so now with some basic language cleanup I made it concise, and a bit more professional.
However, we can do better. At this point, ask yourself a question – SO WHAT?
So, what should I do about this information? Why does it matter? Can I quantify this impact? Can I put it in perspective?
Regularly conducts virtual sessions for college students for major universities like X Y Z, to spread awareness on Cloud. The 15 sessions were attended by 2000+ students with avg CSAT 4.7/5. She continues to mentor students on their innovative projects, career guidance and be market ready.
Isn’t this better? You know what she does regularly, how many sessions, attended by how many students and that is an impressive CSAT (Customer satisfaction score). Provide examples using metrics or data is always more impactful than using fancy words or long paragraphs.
You can further make it more impressive by adding anecdotes or testimonials from attendees, and if this led to a further engagement like the Universities have now signed her up as a regular guest lecturer.
Make a collection
Create a folder on your computer for ‘appreciations’. Anytime someone says something nice about you, take a screenshot and store if for yourself. If you can, ask people to give you testimonials or LinkedIn recommendations. On days when you do not feel good, open this folder and read through. You will get instant motivation boost.
Make it a habit
I suggest doing this activity as soon as activities are done.
You can also create monthly, quarterly half-yearly and yearly snapshot of these activities.
If you are looking for a job change, make this list right now!
It will not only help you look at your accomplishments, this will help you show your interest and impact. You can add them to your resume or portfolio. During an interview, you can use this list to showcase impact and highlight your success stories.
You can build great examples using this for your behavioral-based interview questions in STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). Specifics are key; avoid generalizations. Give a detailed account of one situation for each question you answer, and use data or metrics to support your example.
Once you start building these writing skills, next time before you say yes for an activity, you will automatically assess if the activity has true measurable impact and helps you achieve your goals.
If you do not have the option of saying no, atleast you will assess how this activity impacts you in the greater scheme of things
Build your support system
Humans are social animals. While you are doing this writing activity by yourself, you need your own support system. Find people in the community, at your workplace, in your friend circle who support you and cheer you up on these accomplishments. Do not be arrogant or bullyish about your work. **Appreciate people who supported you in the journey. **You can summarise and publish this on your social media. Social media can be a great ego booster so why not use it for that? You should celebrate your accomplishments! Be your own cheerleader and the world will follow you!
Contrary to common belief, at workplace your manager should be part of your support system.
If you think your manager should inherently know all the awesome work you do, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Managers are not responsible for keeping track of your achievements. When you assume your manager owns your growth, it inevitably creates frustration for both parties. There's only so much each of you can do without the other.
As mentioned before, our own memories are fickle, how can we expect a human being (aka your manager) with many direct reportees to remember all your good work? Be a good direct reportee and make your manager’s job a little easier. Regularly share your work progress and achievements in a short, concise manner as discussed above. It makes it easier for them to remember and share with other internal parties.
So that’s it. Today we learnt how you can build your own list of achievements, make them concise, data oriented and share them with your support system. I hope some of these tips help you build your career and you continue to climb the ladder of success!
Latest comments (11)
I really enjoyed this read! Very helpful and motivating!
Thank you for the kind words!
No problem, keep it going!
I've heard from other advice pieces that it's a good practice in general to keep a list of good things people say about you, in what context, and when. Not only is it a good reminder for ourselves, but I've heard it can be a good reference down the road as well to support promotions or job changes too!
Exactly. It helps to maintain our body of work. I learned this hard way when I had to skim through 3 years of emails to get data on my body of work. So now I make it an important practice to write it down when it is fresh!
Thanks a bunch i alaways fell demotivated you helped me a lot!
So happy it helped in some form! Thank you! Do practice it regularly and if you feel motivated, ping me on LinkedIn 😬
very well explained. "Be your own cheerleader," The title line itself is self-motivating. 👏🏻👏🏻👌🏻
Thanks Avinash 😊😊