Everyone wants to make more money. Traditionally, to win raises and promotions we work hard and hope somebody notices. But to stand out from the crowd, you have to be your own advocate, highlighting what you are doing. The simplest place to start is something most people miss, tracking what they’re working on and who they’re working with. You may think, why do I need to write down what I’m doing? I’m putting my blood, sweat, and tears into this assignment. I’m always going to remember this project. Well, the reality is five years from now, you’ll be putting your blood, sweat, and tears into something else and you won’t even remember the name of that thing and the people you did it with. Tracking you wins gives you momentum to keep winning.
Your Accomplishments List
When I started my career, my dad told me to write down my accomplishments and I have been doing it ever since. I began with everything that I had done at my summer job while it was still fresh in my mind. Then I added new projects and successes as they happened. I am so grateful that I developed this habit because years later there is no way I could remember everything I worked on, if I hadn’t written it down.
The other important thing to keep track of is who you’re working with. To this day I always write down everybody I worked with on every every project from assistants, executives, and creatives to agents and lawyers. As an added organizational tip, I also put this information in the notes section of my contacts. If I haven’t talked to somebody in a while, I have a reminder of when we were colleagues.
For creatives: Be sure to include, assistants and junior executives and nurture those relationships as their careers grow.
For corporate workers: Be sure to include the people inside your company you are working with, especially if they are in other departments.
Let’s Start Making Your List!
The first step, if you are starting your accomplishments list from scratch, is to write down every place you worked and everything you did there. Don’t try to think of things in order and don’t worry about getting people’s names or spelling right. Just write it all down free form as it comes to you. You can use your resume and your LinkedIn profile for reference. You may have to call some former colleagues to ask them details that you don’t remember. This is a wonderful reason to reach out to someone that you haven’t talked to you in a while.
Spend a few days brainstorming a few minutes at a time, instead of trying to do it all at once. When you feel like you have written everything down that you can think of, go back and put the information in chronological order, organizing it with any system you like. I am not a spreadsheet person I really do not like working with them, but lots of people do. I prefer lists written in Word. I suggest copying your list and organizing a second copy by category.
For creatives: In your second copy, list all your films, then books, etc.
For corporate workers: In your second copy, group projects by type, client, or maybe location, etc.
I think this a fun exercise. You will remember things you did that that you loved and haven’t thought about in a long time. You will remember people you really enjoyed working with that you haven’t talked to in a long time. And once you finish your list, you will realize you have done a bunch of cool stuff!
Bonus: Reach out to someone you have not spoken to in while and book a lunch.
Make It Measurable – Your Stats
The easiest way to boil down your accomplishments is to talk in numbers. Some professions rely on numbers more than others. For example, salespeople often have their yearly sales figures in their Linked In profile. People in finance can quote the billions of dollars of accounts they work on. These numbers tell the story of their accomplishments. But even if you’re not working in an industry that focuses on numbers, numbers are important part of what you do.
For creatives: How many movies have you worked on? Screenplays written? Projects produced? How many books have you sold?
For corporate workers: Look at each project on your list. Is there a way you can quantify your contribution? Did you bring in X dollars of new business? Did you increase revenue? What are your sales figures?
If you are a student or just getting started in your career, don’t be discouraged by this exercise. People will not expect you to have a long list. But you have done more than you think. If you are having trouble brainstorming, ask friends and family members for suggestions.
Make It Real – Your Results
Now go through your list and look at each accomplishment. What were the results from each thing on your list? Most importantly, how did you exceed expectations? As we talked about above, are there numbers you can mention? Did you come up with a new idea or process? Did you bring in a big new account?
Make It Pop – Your Kudos
What praise have you gotten from your clients, your colleagues, and your industry? Have you won any awards or been nominated for any? For some reason, people always downplay their awards. Don’t!
Next, start a kudos file in your email. Anytime a co-worker or a client compliments you or thanks you, file in in your kudos file. If someone compliments you verbally, write it down with the date. Your kudos file serves two important purposes. First, if you are having a bad day, read through your file. It will shift your mood instantly. Second, think of your kudos as your personal Yelp. You now have the social proof that good reviews provide. In job searches and interviews, your kudos are wonderful recommendations.
For creatives: You can use your kudos as testimonials on your website. Don’t forget to mention if your work has been in film festivals or if your book is a bestseller.
For corporate workers: Kudos are wonderful positive ammunition to use in performance reviews and in asking for a raise.
Hint: Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from clients and co-workers. I suggest asking for one to five sentences about their experience working with you on a particular project.
What to do With Your Killer Accomplishments?
You can use all or some of your list in a variety of ways:
- In your personal cocktail pitch
- In your written bio
- In your resume
- In your Linked In bio
- In you Linked in profile
- In your performance review
- To ask for a raise
Make It Sizzle – Presenting Your Accomplishments
Your accomplishments list helps you win clients, raises, and promotions because it succinctly communicates what you have been doing and how well you have been doing it. The traditional way to present this information is in an email/memo. Don’t rely on just a conversation to get across your accomplishments. Leave your manager or client with a piece of paper they can refer to. If you are working in more creative industry, you can be a little bit more unusual. Maybe you use an infographic or a PowerPoint presentation. Maybe you do something fun like make up a fake testimonial page. As always, when you are talking about yourself, you want to make the information interesting and memorable.
The Accomplishment Formula
What you Did + the Results backed up by your Stats + Kudos
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