We all know Kiwis suck at talking about their own achievements.
It’s a scene played out at our offices daily.
Recruiter: ‘What are you most proud of achieving in this role?’
Candidate: ‘Er…well…I was involved in a review of our reporting processes that was pretty successful, I guess…[mumble]’.
Five minutes of painful prodding later reveals the candidate actually initiated and led the project, and that it resulted in a 50% reduction of days taken to produce the monthly results.
Phew. It’s like pulling teeth. Why does it have to be so hard? Sure, there are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, we seem to find talking about our own success just plain…embarrassing.
I’m not suggesting you go hell-for-leather and big note yourself at every opportunity. Empty bragging isn’t going to win any popularity contests around these parts. But many people spend virtually no time reflecting on and recording their achievements, and that is a big mistake.
Here's why you should track your work wins:
1. Boost your confidence levels
Familiarity with your successes will help you get over the whole embarrassment thing and make you a more confident person at work. You’ve done some great stuff, so go ahead and give yourself a high-five!
2. Practice makes perfect
Writing down your achievements and even practicing verbalising them (eek!) means you’ll be able to easily and naturally reel them off during your next interview, or when you bump into that guy at the cafe who works at that great company you’d love to join, or when you’re negotiating a pay rise with your boss. Or when your Mum says for the eighty-sixth time, ‘so what exactly do you do again?
3. Keep your career on track
A less obvious benefit: It will motivate you to think critically about what you should be spending your time on at work, and re-energise you to set and achieve your career goals. Which leads to more success – it’s a beautiful cycle!
Here's how to do it:
If you’re not in the habit of tracking your wins, it can be hard to know where to start. Go back over the last year or two, or from whenever you last wrote down your achievements (if you’re like most people, this is probably when you last updated your CV).
Next, break down that period into quarters. If you’re going very far back in time, you may have to trawl your archived emails or documents for time frames and specifics.
What achievements are you most proud of from each time period? Write them down in a concise sentence format, and practice talking about them, until it comes naturally. If you find this exercise difficult, imagine you’re doing it for someone else - you’d probably be far more generous and positive if you were.
Then, set up a folder in your inbox and another for documents where you can stash correspondence related to your achievements, or completed projects. A brag file or ‘bragalogue’, if you will. This will make it easy for you to quickly file all your achievements in one place as you tick them off.
Then, make it a priority every year to reflect on what you’ve achieved and update your CV. I find Christmas holidays a really good time to do this, but chose a time, put it in your calendar, and commit to it.
You’re doing great things in your job. Don’t squander all your hard work by forgetting it ever happened - set up your bragalogue today!