No one told me …
That was the response I heard when I asked a client about the monetary impact of changes she’d suggested and implemented. I pressed further. “Can you remember anything about how things changed after you introduced your idea?” Her response … a nervous giggle, then **crickets**.
I’m not picking on her. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten that response. Pragmatically, we know no job comes with guarantees. In reality, we put on our career blinders and think “it couldn’t happen to me.” Then. It does happen. And rather than being able to grab our wonderfulness file and hit the ground running, we waste valuable time kicking ourselves for not being better prepared. (And believe me. I am not immune … )
A few days ago, Billie Sucher, a career colleague tweeted:
“If you aren’t tracking your own job performance, (or job search performance) who is? #jobhunt #discipline #accountability”
It made me think of clients who know they’ve contributed, but never took the time to make note of contributions. Who is managing your career? Who is keeping track of your career contributions? Could you access your carefully nurtured and cultivated professional network if you were walked to the door today?
Unfortunately, for a good many souls, they lose their contacts and their history when a layoff or business failure hits. So, how do you, my savvy reader, circumvent this loss? Today, right now, set up a (free) Gmail account. Export your contact names to that account. (That could be via CSV file or plain, old fashioned typing them in. Regardless. Do it.) Then, either add new contacts as they come in, or set a reminder in your calendar to update your lists regularly. Another option is to open a free JibberJobber.com account and take your career management to the next level. No matter what, it’s important to maintain an offsite list of important contacts.
And, since you’re in “take charge” mode, start documenting your accomplishments. Don’t wait for your employer to “give” you your sales figures or come up with a measurement for something you suggested. Start documenting, even if it’s an informal tally, so you have an idea of where you stand on any given day. Keep information like that off site as well – a flash drive or Google Docs. Of course, you can’t copy and keep proprietary information, but you can set up some sort of system to document the improvement.
Here’s a March 7th tweet from me:
“Create an accomplishments file, updating it regularly. U need the info to sell UR skills to your next employer. You WON’T remember it all.”
Were you challenged in customer service to handle more calls, so you’re trying different approaches to be helpful, but expedient? Then start something as simple as a tick list to track the calls. Over a week, you’ll know went from taking 10 calls to 25. Take the time to reflect on how you did it – exact steps – so six months or a year from now, you’ll be able to weave the details and measurable results into a resume update and tell a compelling story with quantifiable, qualifiable information during an interview.
Something as simple as catching up filing contributes to the bottom line. If employees were spending 20 minutes a day looking for information stacked throughout the office and you, with your easy to manage file system, have reduced it to 2 minutes, you’ve saved 18 minutes of time. Now multiply that by the five other employees in the department and you saved 1.5 hours a day, 7.5 by week’s end. You’ve added almost an entire day of productivity to your department. Multiply that by 52 weeks a year … well you get the idea.
No matter how insignificant you think the change, write it down. Stop discounting your career accomplishments with an “It’s just my job” mentality. Every position in a company contributes to or supports contribution to the bottom line or the position would not exist. Now, when review time rolls around or you’re working on a resume update or sitting in an interview, you won’t mumble a lame, “I’m organized” <giggle> response. You’ll be able to say, “I put my organization skills to work catching up a six month backlog of filing and kept it current. This minor improvement netted a savings of 7.5 work hours per week in my department and enabled the launch of “XYZ project” or “this improvement”. Chances are, if you didn’t write it down, you’d never remember the act or the impact. And if you didn’t take time to really look at your contribution, you’d never be able to use it to convey your value.
You’re the author of your career story. Don’t wait for someone else to contribute a chapter. Write it yourself.