Professionals in all walks of life often struggle with one key element. When asked about their strengths, they sometimes stumble through the answer.
From all of my coaching experience, I find that most people have a hard time accurately describing their greatest accomplishments and their core strengths. It seems that social standards keep us from “bragging” about ourselves.
I contend it is actually deeper than that. When we have a gift or a natural talent, we take it for granted. It feels natural, so you don’t think it’s all that special.
Here’s an example. Pro golfers who hit tee shots over 300 yards don’t think that is very special. They are concerned with hitting a few feet left or right of a target spot out there over the 300 yard distance. Any other golfer though is in awe of being able to hit a ball that far.
There are similar analogies in business. A finance chief who can run detailed calculations in his head does not see that as a gift. Rather he is concerned with decimal accuracy. The engineer who can see a detailed design in their mind doesn’t count that as a talent, but rather a natural facet of their work.
The list of examples goes on. So what’s the point?
As we make career moves, we must be able to explain core strengths, talents, and accomplishments. You have to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition for a job. The best way to do that is to describe key strengths and unique talents, evidenced by key accomplishments.
Regardless of how routine YOU think those accomplishments may be, they might be very special to a potential hiring manager. The thing you can “do in your sleep” may be the missing link at a new company.
If you think about it, finding a fit for your highest and best use is the perfect opportunity; one where you are able to perform what comes so naturally and what can be in high demand at a new job.
In his breakout book “Promote!”, author, speaker and superb career coach Rick Gillis explains:
Your career success depends on your ability to properly promote yourself. Yet most people can’t express their value in a way that wows without also bragging or being obnoxious. As an employment and careers expert, Rick Gillis has come to consider this skill gap a deadly deficiency. Left unaddressed, it kills careers.
Here are six PROMOTE! points for your consideration.
Don’t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do. S/he doesn’t.
Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging.
Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative.
Quantify your worth.
Source and shape your wins.
Master the three-part accomplishment statement.
Your accomplishments demonstrate ways you build value for your current or potential employer. You have to be able to talk in terms of those value-adding attributes when you want to make a move or ask for a raise/promotion. Don’t leave anything on the table. Just because something you do feels natural and “easy” for you (like hitting a golf ball 300 yards), to a hiring manager or your boss, that can be a big deal!
As you start the new year, take a moment to look back on your skills and abilities plus the key accomplishments in your career. Build an inventory of all of that valuable information. Write them down! Keep the list handy when you decide to talk about raises or career moves.