Q. Five years ago I started as an administrative assistant at a financial institution. Over this time I have been promoted with a few different titles all while expanding my responsibilities and still reporting to the same person. I feel highly valued, empowered and enjoy my job. I have become the go-to person for a variety of tasks, projects or when in need of a solution.
We are in the midst of a major reorganization with lots of new eyes. In my current role, I feel like jack of all trades for the organization but a master of none. How do I begin assessing and labeling what I do? I am concerned because I don't fit into a generic role, and I worry that that I am going to appear dispensable to people that are new and do not yet appreciate my value or contributions.
I need to redo my resume to be able to show the new "powers" that I make a difference. Much of my work doesn't seem quantifiable, showing percent change or growth, and I know this will be important for me to move forward. I would appreciate any help you can offer.
A. Congratulations on looking forward. In a difficult economy, with the prospect of a major reorganization, company leaders are making difficult decisions about which positions must be eliminated, and therefore which employees will be impacted. Many valued and valuable contributors have been impacted by cuts at all levels, and in all industries. Your goal - documenting your value to the organization is a good one, and one many employees should add to their "to-do" list.
One of the easiest ways to collect specific information about what you do on the job, and the impact this has on the organization, is to document your work daily. Most people do not do this, but using your daily planner (online or hard copy) as a way to keep track of the work you are involved with, provides a historic record which can easily be reviewed at the end of a week, month or quarter. Make sure you add the impact your work had as well. If you aren't sure how to assess the impact, ask for assistance from your manager. Work can be translated into the value it provides, and with practice, you will be able to ask yourself the right questions to turn your daily notes into accomplishment statements.
Develop a series of questions to ask yourself or your manager about your work. Did it increase productivity? Avoid additional cost? Generate revenue? Save time? Identify the Problem, review the Action, and identify the Result. "PAR" is a tool used by many career consultants working with candidates to showcase skills and accomplishments. All of this will provide you with resume data, and you will then have records at performance appraisal time, for financial review and bonus conversations, as well as when promotions are being discussed.
So, now you will start doing this data collection for the future, but we need to take a retrospective look as well. One of the areas often overlooked by internal candidates, which is one way to look at all employees, is the external information available about them. What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? Does it say great things about your current employer? Do you have recommendations from senior staff and colleagues at the company who you have supported through projects? Make sure there are more places than your personnel file where the breadth of your capabilities can be reviewed. Be your own public relations firm.
In addition, make sure you are very knowledgeable about the business, not just your own area. Read everything you can that is written by or about your company. Know the strategy and the leaders. Read about what is happening in your industry and know what your competitors are doing. These activities, and the conversations and discussions that you will be able to participate in, will help you differentiate yourself.
Lastly, connect within your organization. Volunteer for cross organizational projects. Meet with your contemporaries who have responsibilities in other areas of the company. Become involved with the charitable efforts of your company. Key roles and contributions happen in many more places than behind your desk.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.