Issue: What have you learned and accomplished in the past five years?
Risk: If you can't answer that question, you'll have a tougher time selling yourself to potential employers.
Action: Use the following six-question template to create an annual report that can help collect your thoughts each year.
Say you've been happily in a job for several years, then the ax swings. It's time to update your résumé and sell yourself. But what have you accomplished and what are your best attributes?
It's hard to look back beyond this morning's breakfast, let alone over several years.
One tool to help you brand yourself: Draft a "career annual report" that can help you gather your thoughts about your accomplishments and goals.
guru Tom Peters, in his This I Believe! manifesto, says you can accomplish that goal simply by writing out your answers to the following six questions each year:
1. "I'm known and respected for [two or three things] and, in a year, I'll also be known for [another thing]."
2. "The project I'm working on right now will [teach me this] and [accomplish this] for my organization."
3. "The two most valuable lessons I've learned in the past three months are [name them]."
4. "I'm beginning a campaign to promote my 'personal brand' or 'public persona,' which will include [name as many high-profile achievements as apply, including your pro bono or civic contributions] and show that I've [accomplished what, toward what end]."
5. "My important new contacts in the past three months are [list one to three names]. I value these folks [for what reasons]."
6. "My résumé is significantly improved from a year ago because of [one or two additions]."
Bottom line: Given the rate of change, assume that, in 36 months, you'll be out of one job and scouting for the next. Armed with your own annual reports, you'll have a heck of a story to tell.
Set a recurring date in your Outlook calendar to perform this question-and-answer task each year.