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Are You Selling Yourself Short?

Is it performance review time in your company right now? If not, I bet it will be coming up soon for you in the next few months. 


Performance review time, for me, always brought about mixed emotions. It was exciting in that it meant that my efforts would be recognized and potentially result in a good raise, but it was nerve-wracking in terms of how my performance was viewed by others. I often found it hard to verbalize the impact I made throughout the year when my manager asked me for my performance review feedback. 


However, I knew that performance review time was an important ritual in terms of advocating for myself and my career goals. Many of my 1-1 clients are going through performance review time, and a consistent theme is, “I am struggling to articulate my value and I'm pretty sure I'm selling myself short.”


A recent poll I conducted validates this sentiment:

Poll: What holds you back most from advocating for your own career advancement?

Whether it's performance review time for you or not, any 1-1 conversation with your leader is a good time to advocate for your career goals. 


Clues you may be selling yourself short include:

  • Not owning your part in contributing to group results

  • Not naming and claiming your contribution to business outcomes

  • Diminishing your role or part in something when compliments are given

  • Dismissing the talents or skills you used to achieve these outcomes

  • Not believing you are qualified for a raise or promotion, even though you've worked harder than others

  • Believing you need “just one more” certification, experience or educational experience to be ready

One of the best pieces of career advice I've ever heard is from Carla Harris. She says, “The majority of decisions about your career will be made when you are not in the room.”  


🔥 This truth bomb reminds us of how important it is to tell our leaders what we desire, what results we've created and what we've impacted so they can use that language to advocate for us in decision-making rooms about our careers. Keep reading for tips to put this into action.


When it comes to identifying what companies care about at the end of the day, it boils down to four business focuses: Making money, saving money, leading change and reducing risk. You can use this information to help you shape what impact you've made and to advocate for yourself. 


Stop selling yourself short and strengthen your resume, your performance review feedback or boost your success in asking for a raise or promotion by identifying what you've accomplished in the four business focuses.


1. How did I help my company make money this year? Did you:

  • Produce revenue through sales or growth

  • Contribute an idea that created revenue

  • Retain a large client or reprice a large client to stay

  • Launch a project or product into the marketplace

  • Contribute efforts that boosted employee engagement or satisfaction

  • Contribute efforts that boosted client engagement or satisfaction

2. How did I help my company save money this year? Did you:

  • Contribute an idea that streamlined a process

  • Reduce direct expenses or overhead in some way

  • Reduce client attrition or turnover

  • Reduce employee attrition or turnover

  • Launch a product or system that creates efficiencies

  • Reduce errors or rework or improved quality


3. How did I help my company lead change? Did you:

  • Participate on committees actively driving change

  • Lead meetings, training or education to support a new initiative

  • Advocate publicly for a new vision and encourage others to get on board

  • Encourage clients to adopt new behaviors or use a new system


4. How did I help my company reduce risk? Did you:

  • Improve quality in a process that reduces errors or rework

  • Contribute to the company's brand or marketplace perception in a positive way

  • Make financial or system enhancements to improve your company's health or ability to earn revenue

  • Contribute to system or compliance enhancements that made it safer and easier for clients to do business with your company

Try this phrasing using real numbers or percentages:

  • In the last year I worked on XYZ which impacted the company by improving/decreasing ABC by X % / $

  • Follow up with what talents or skills you used to accomplish that goal.


Remember: Some of you may be thinking, but I worked with a group of people to achieve this. Yes, that's true and you can claim credit for your part in the group work and the outcome it all achieved. 


Stop selling yourself short, own your contributions and advocate for yourself so you leader doesn't have to guess what to say about your goals and results when you are not in the room.

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