As I watched the Oscars last night, I was reminded of a great quote from a good friend.
Last Friday night, the Trachtenberg School honored one of its alumni, Frank DiGiammario, as our 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awardee. Along with being a an innovator, public servant, and all-around great person, Frank understands the great work federal public servants do every day and laments the fact that the general public only hears the negative when so many positive things are happening.
He put it well in his remardks: “As federal public servants we consistently hit our targets, but miss the point.”
What he means is that the federal government, and I think most job applicants, do a horrible job of promoting their accomplishments and showing their true value.
There are two many reasons why we as individuals do this.
First, most of us were raised to be modest, humble, and realistic. These are all important, laudable traits, but too often we default to the extremes. I grew up in Lake Wobegon (central Minnesota), where “all the children are above average” so I know all too well the internal conflict between needing to excel without telling anyone. In other words, if our work is good then others will recognize that–don’t toot your own horn.
When it comes to applying for a job, any job, this is WRONG. This is the time to really shine and, as my colleague Camille Roberts says, “if you’ve done it, brag about it.”
Second, it is really hard to see how impressive the forest is while standing with our noses pressed against one tree. In other words, it is hard to really see our accomplishments while we are in the middle of our work every day.
I tell students and alumni all the time that if an alien was parked above earth watching me do my job, they would conclude that 90% of my work is answering email. That isn’t far from the truth, but think about everything that happens “behind” those emails!
When I write about my work on my resume, I don’t say “Answer emails.” BORING. Instead, I write something like “Manage career services for over 450 students, 3,200 alumni, faculty, and employers through interactive programming and individual advising.”
What I want to know is: How do you show-off your “Oscar”?