“On paper, my experience doesn’t look great. As a project manager, I organize vendors and keep costs down.
But in fact everybody wants me to run their projects! Even customers ask for me.
“Now I’m ready to embark on a job search. How can I communicate my value to a future employer?”
(1) Get it in writing.
When someone gives you a compliment, ask for a testimonial.
If you’re self-employed, other entrepreneurs will understand what you need and why. In a corporate setting, you may need to explain a little more.
Ask for letters on letterhead, acknowledging specific achievements. It’s not enough to say “Greg works hard and he’s nice.”
Often it’s not appropriate to ask your colleagues and customers for testimonials. Therefore you need to be more subtle. You can email a message along the lines of, “I enjoyed working with you on this project, Sam. Do you have suggestions for how we might manage projects better in future?”
Hopefully Sam will respond, “Donna, you were an amazing project leader. I can’t imagine how things could get any better.”
In some instances, you might even send out surveys to members of your project team, asking for feedback. Hopefully they’ll be supportive and serve further to document exactly how you contributed with your role.
The wording of these reports, and the way people frame their thoughts, will help you write up your resume. For an internal performance review you might be able to include the actual surveys, depending on your corporate culture.
(2) Dig into the numbers.
“We came in 40 percent below budget on the Sherman project.”
“Our team’s recommendations resulted in products delivered an average of 30 days earlier with a 20% lower cost.”
(3) Create a context for comparison.
“I was the only sales rep (out of 40 in the department) to achieve dollar goals for three years in a row.”
Encourage your references to make comparisons, too: “We work with over 100 vendors a year. Linda is the only rep who takes the time to learn our unique needs…”
Are you working on projects where your success cannot be documented? If you’re doing more than the minimum to stay employed (and that’s a judgment call), you need to question where your career is going.
Don’t quit and don’t do anything to jeopardize your current position. Instead, focus on how you can become more marketable, so you can get recognized (and rewarded!) for your work in and out of the organization.
To discuss your specific situation, consider setting up a career consultation