Your success in a job in business is tied to the results you get. But that isn’t all. It is also tied to how you market your results. This ties in to your personal brand and helps you exude confident competence.
This really hit home recently.
The other day my friend, and Small Business Copywriter Troy White, relayed an email response to a job posting he got.
It was filled with grammatical errors galore. And he was amazed at how someone could send something that horribly written and expect a response (wasn’t for a copywriting job but for a a job running the dojo he trains at).
I commented that there is a name for that problem…
Where someone is not even aware of their lack of ability or skill or knowledge and so goes blissfully and confidently forward in their ignorance.
How can they not see it?
It is because the knowledge it takes to become competent is also the knowledge it takes to recognize competence.
Think about that for a second.
Just like the more you know the more you know you don’t know.
Okay, now my head’s starting to hurt.
Let’s bring it back to something that might be useful for you today.
Your Performance Review
It is that time of year.
Over the years I’ve done hundreds of them and you’d be shocked at how on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being awesome, incompetent people will often overestimate their abilities and put 4’s or 5’s where they should be putting a 2 or 3.
And having those performance coaching conversations when someone sees themself as a 5 when they’re really a 3 is HAAARD!
It is nearly impossible to be able to get them to see the gap in ability between your view and theirs. Like trying to convince an ardent Hillary supporter that Trump’s actions are positive for the country. Or that the Women’s March on Washington was furthering progress for women for a Pro-Life protester…or ANYONE trying to convince Trump that he’s wrong about ANYTHING lol.
But blissful ignorance isn’t the only problem. The other side of the coin is even more interesting.
The Blind Spot
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed. But if you try to look directly at a start you can’ts see it. You have to look off to the side and catch it in your peripheral vision.
It is similar with high performing individuals.
The corollary to the Dunning–Kruger effect is that those with high ability often underestimate their ability.
This one is huge.
And I see it all the time.
In annual performance reviews I see the best of the best constantly grading themselves down on the self-evaluation.
People who are tops in their area of expertise. Who I’d give 4’s and 5’s to across the board. And they consistently rate themselves at least one number below where I’d put them.
They are so good at the skill being evaluated that they assume everyone can do it. They don’t even consider the value. It doesn’t even hit their radar. So they discount it.
I also find this when doing resume rewrites. In phone discussions with the person we often uncover personal branding gems they never recognized because they were too close to the situation.
They were just too competent (and too close to it) to see it as exceptional.
You Really Are Exceptional!
And that is the biggest benefit of working with me on your resume. And why I’m not just another “Certified Resume Writer”.
I’m not someone who just takes what you send it and pretties it up.
On a scale of 1 to 10 that gets your resume to a 4 or 5 max.
It misses out on all the things that you’re awesome at. That set you apart.
But by digging in deep to your skills, past successes, and personal brand, we come up with one to three really solid differentiators.
Points that set you apart from the 200 other resumes that will cross a recruiter or hiring manager’s desk.
And that is what’s needed to capture and retain their attention long enough to put you into the “maybe pile”.
And when you do get that interview you’ll use the same information for the talking points you’ll hammer home to set yourself apart from your competition.
So How Can You Do This Better?
Are you the “confident incompetent”? If so, there is very little I can do for you. Like a politician who is confident in his rightness, you’ll never be convinced otherwise, shining a light on that competence gap will likely go nowhere. And besides that, if you’re blissfully ignorant you’ won’t be asking for help anyway.
But if you’re like the people I work with the most, you’re already excellent. You’re always striving to improve yourself. And as such you’re so used to being modest about your abilities that you under-promote yourself and miss those key attributes that set you apart.
So what can you do if you’re not in a situation where you need your resume updated? Where you’re not yet ready to work with me.
Let me tell you a little more about what I’ve experienced with performance reviews and how it might help you boost your brand and make your next performance review awesome (and hopefully translate that into a raise or promotion).
I just completed five performance reviews for people I manage.
Out of those five all five were woefully inadequate in my opinion. Here’s why.
- No more than a sentence or two of comments in each category being evaluated.
- The comments were generic with no facts, stats or metrics being discussed.
- They were often talking about what is going to happen in the upcoming year but with only a vague reference to the year being evaluated.
- There were no measurable accomplishments.
Basically they were dumping their career in my hand and expecting me to tell them how they rate. Without any useful input from them (other than doing the rating scale and providing a minimal comment).
Now think about that for a minute.
Who knows what you do better than anyone else at work?
Your coworkers? They’re not reviewing you.
Your boss? I’m assuming he manages more than just you. So you maybe cross his mind 5% of the time tops.
You care about you. You think about you. You are the person who knows best what you do every day.
So why are you not sharing that? You need to.
But even if you recognize you need to take a more active role in your self-promotion, here’s what typically happens with an annual review. And it is the case in the ones I reviewed this year.
- Little preparation. When the annual review form is sent out and requested to be completed, that is the first time since the last annual review that they even though about their accomplishments. They didn’t keep track of anything along the way.
- Recency bias. Since they didn’t track their accomplishments throughout the year they can only remember what is recent. Without a trigger of past results, they’re stuck in what they can remember. And so whatever has happened recently shades their review. If they were knocking it out of the park then their review is more positive. If they were struggling, then that seeps into the review.
- Lack of accomplishment focus. Not everyone thinks in terms of accomplishments. They have very bland accomplishment descriptions when they do try to list them. What is critical is to say what you did (in concrete terms), what measurable result was attained, and what that means in terms of benefit to the organization you’re working for or the department’s results.
How Do You Avoid Making Those Same Mistakes?
And how do you take charge of your brand and your career?
And leapfrog all those who don’t take the steps you’ll see now?
It really is very simple (not easy, but simple). Here’s what I recommend (and did recommend to these people I reviewed).
Log results throughout the year.
Don’t wait til the end of the year to try to recount your accomplishments. Do it throughout the year. Do it weekly…or at least monthly. But don’t save it til the end of the year to start thinking about it.
Have a Word or text document or email or journal you use to note down your accomplishments.
And create an email folder that you put emails in that either are positive comments you can reference where a boss, coworker, client, or other person you interact with has given you kudos.
These are the locations you’ll keep track of accomplishments throughout the year.
And they will be the elements you use to craft both an annual review from and future resume updates.
Review your goals.
(you did set goals for yourself or as part of the performance planning process right?)
Since those are the areas of primary focus, reviewing the goals should trigger examples that support your work towards those goals from the timeframe you’re reflecting on.
Go through your emails.
Emails you’ve sent. Emails you’ve received. Quickly scan through them (or the subject lines if the volume of emails you receive is high).
You’re just looking for things that trigger a memory or example where you’ve done something worth mentioning.
Don’t forget the reports.
Then go through reports you’ve created or ones you’ve received from others.
These are often great sources of metrics. They show the numbers behind the accomplishments.
You can get the trends (particularly improvements).
You can look at your spreadsheets (in the technical fields). From there you can analyze the data sometimes and come up with some interesting stats.
Dredge up statistics.
What do they say about statistics? You can make them tell whatever story you want? So why not use statistics for your purposes? This is something that will take some time and effort. But is often something others won’t do. So it sets you apart.
Find the stories.
Reflect and log stories that address things you’ve done, problems you’ve solved, unique ways you’ve approached something that uncovered an opportunity. Or systems or processes you’ve tweaked to get better results. Or people you’ve helped out with a problem they’re dealing with.
These are all rich areas to mine for cool, interesting accomplishments and the stories that go with them.
If you decide to take that step and regularly go through this exercise, I guarantee you’ll be shocked at year-end by how much you’ve accomplished and how many engaging stories you’ll have captured.
Be a Confident Competent!
So when you walk into that review meeting it will be with a confidence grounded in facts. You’ll have a newfound “Confident Competence”.
And the added benefit is throughout the year this process with reinforce a positive feeling and mindset.
Why just have the “negative Nellies” drag you down with their opinions. By reviewing your successes regularly you can counter some of the negativity that goes around in high-pressure or project driven environments.
And that they helps you quickly brush away setbacks and move forward knowing you’re doing the right things and bringing much value to your team and your job.
So go take on this year in style!