Experience and Skills Being Undervalued? What Can You Do?

 
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Job hunting isn’t the only time to present your accomplishments. If you are someone who has spent a few years building your career, or even working at the same company, have you ever felt like your boss or your peers aren’t appreciating the value you bring? Do you ever think your skills and experience just aren’t getting recognition?

I met Carol at one of my job search skills workshops. She seemed to be at the peak of her frustration. She had been overlooked, or outright denied, pay increases and promotions. She saw others with less experience, and fewer skills, moving up, having opportunities to work on the interesting projects, and getting the work she felt she had earned. She did not understand why her boss and peers didn’t credit her for her contribution to the organization. She was worried that she was experiencing discrimination, due to her age or gender. She felt victimized.

In my prior corporate career, there were times when I felt just like Carol. I assumed that because I worked for my boss, he should know what I did. Because I worked with my peers, they should know what I was capable of. Then I noticed that the people who got the interesting work did three things I was not doing. As Carol and I talked further, we discovered that she wasn’t doing them either. In fact, many people I speak with who have an established career or work history, often overlook these three (3) critical actions, and end up frustrated like Carol and me.

As I shared with you in a recent newsletter, you are responsible for your career. If you want to thrive at your company, in your job, your career, in addition to doing a good job, you must be continually doing these three (3) critical actions.

1. Present your accomplishments.

Meet with your boss at least yearly or even quarterly to inform her about your accomplishments and contributions. I recommend you maintain a Master Accomplishments List: the list of projects you worked on, problems you solved, help you provided, and contributions you made. Keep a written record of your contributions to the company.

Present this list to your boss at least once year. If your company doesn’t do performance reviews, schedule your own with your boss. Send her a copy of your Master Accomplishments List from the last 12 months. Then discuss the items with her. Make sure she knows what you’ve done. Remember, your boss is super busy with her own challenges and concerns. It is very likely she will be more focused on what problem she needs to solve this week, and will not always remember what you’ve done throughout the year. It’s up to you to make sure she knows.

 

2. Talk about your strengths and skills.

Many of you have heard me say that one of the most important keys to loving your job and thriving in your career is to use the strengths you enjoy using. So make sure you tell your boss and your peers what these strengths and skills are. Don’t assume they already know. Tell them what you are great at and what you love to do. Work this information into conversation at meetings, over lunch, or at the water cooler.

 

3. Tell them what you want.

Get clear about what you want to do, then tell your boss the kinds of projects you’d love to have an opportunity to work on. Ask him what you need to do to get those opportunities. I vividly remember the day one of my peers was promoted over me. I felt I was more qualified than this person was to do that job. I felt slighted and overlooked. When I told my boss how disappointed I was, he told me he didn’t know I wanted the promotion. It took me a whole week to go back and meet with my boss and ask, “How can I get promoted? What do I need to do?” From that moment on, he helped and supported me. One year later, I got promoted. It was a revelation to me that I all I needed to do was tell him what I wanted and ask for his help.

 

You can’t expect your experience and skills to speak for themselves. You must talk about them. You must present them. I learned that by consistently taking these three (3) critical actions, my skills were recognized and valued by my peers and my boss. Carol learned to do the same, and is now working on projects she enjoys and getting paid what she knows she’s worth. How about you? Are you taking these actions consistently? I invite you to share your experiences below.

 

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Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA