I spent 15 years in human resources before I started writing for a living. I worked for headhunters, inside Fortune 500 companies, and even with startups. From technology and operations to finance and consumer goods, I’ve helped thousands of people find work. And now I’ve translated those skills into yet another job: career coach. I help people revamp their résumés and guide their careers to the next level, so trust me when I say I know what makes a candidate stand out. And I know missed opportunities when I see them.
Now, it pains me to say this, but the most common career misstep I see is one that mostly women fall into: Ladies, we have to start tracking our successes.
Your résumé and subsequent job interview are the only chances you have to show how you succeeded in your past roles—we’re talking more than just your day-to-day responsibilities, we’re talking successes. If you had to write your résumé right this minute, could you go back and give specific metrics and examples of times that you slayed? What percentage increase in sales did your project bring in last year? How much money did you save your company?
Women are generally taught that it’s somehow cocky or rude to track your wins, and it’s high time we let this go. The only way to prove you’re a winner is to show how you’ve won.
Men are programmed to do this—they are socialized to keep score. In general, they are more quick to point out how much money they saved their employers and exactly how much they made that client with their awesome idea. Wall Street types call this “knowing your number.” Salespeople are another example of a group that absolutely knows their numbers.
But women in most other industries are generally taught that it’s somehow cocky or rude to track your wins, and it’s high time we let this go. The only way to prove you’re a winner is to show how you’ve won. Now, this is not to say some women don’t already do this. But from my experience, most of us don’t. You should know your worth at all times, not just at your annual review or when you need to polish off that résumé.
How to track your wins
Whether it’s a spreadsheet or a journal or a running note on your phone, get in the habit of writing down your wins. When the time comes to demand your worth, don’t list what you did in your role. Instead, show how you were great with specific numbers and evidence.
One of my clients has a small notebook in her handbag and she writes down every success, every time she has one. Another keeps a running list in a note-taking app. It doesn’t matter what format you choose. It only matters that you do it and you make a habit of it.
Women are playing a major role in the new economy, and we need to step up our game if we’re going to be the ones to create the next great era of prosperity across the world. (And I believe we will be.) It starts with realizing it’s not impolite to talk about metrics. It’s not bragging to come prepared to a negotiation with the right information. It’s just good business.
So moving forward, know how good you are at what you do. Be passionate, take pride in your work, and when the time comes for your employers or clients to judge your performance, walk in with the confidence that only comes from knowing exactly what your successes are.
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