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Write a Holiday Letter for Your Career

With the holiday season in full swing, your mailbox is probably filled with cards and letters from loved ones sharing the highlights of their year: the places they’ve traveled, their kids’ new hobbies, and the addition of new pets to the family. We typically use the end of the year to reflect on personal triumphs, but why not shine light on your professional successes, too? A beach trip is fun, and little Timmy’s home run record is exciting, but so, too, are the systems you streamlined, proposals you won, and marketing campaigns you created.

Documenting your career achievements can help you land a raise or promotion, update your resume, stay motivated, and lean into the art of shameless self-promotion. While this might feel overwhelming and even uncomfortable, fear not – drawing attention to your achievements doesn’t have to be obnoxious or arrogant. It’s a necessity for career advancement, and, when done authentically, boosts your visibility within your organization.

Ready to craft your career-focused holiday letter? Let’s dive into some key strategies for documenting and sharing your 2022 highlights:

1. Identify your skills and accomplishments.

Start off by brainstorming a list of your power skills, or human-centered strengths: emotional intelligence, teamwork, communication, as well as your technical competencies, such as coding and search engine optimization. If you’re struggling to come up with these off of the top of your head, you can look through your email inbox to see what praise you’ve received or take an assessment, like Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, to identify your talents. Be sure to highlight any new skills you developed from taking courses or achieving certifications.

Then, move on to recalling your accomplishments from the year. Make this process easier for yourself by combing through your social media accounts, email inbox, and notes from performance reviews. If you set any goals at the beginning of the year, you can check your progress and see if you achieved (or exceeded!) them. You can also ask yourself some questions, like “when did I go above and beyond my normal job duties?” or “what challenges did I face and how did I overcome them?” Add all of these to your master document, too.

2. Quantify your successes.

Now that you’ve identified your accomplishments, add some metrics to each one. Numbers pack a punch and showcase all the value you really bring to the table. You might consider including specific data around profitability, saving time, and productivity. Instead of “created a new client inquiry process” try “streamlined customer inquiry process, saving the team a total of 10 hours per week.”

You might be wondering what to do if you don’t have specific facts and figures or if your achievements aren’t easily quantifiable. Don’t fret! Use approximations or ranges when you don’t have exact numbers. Consider mentioning the scale of what you’ve done or the frequency of your ongoing duties. You can check out detailed examples broken down by industry here.

3. Include other key players.

If other individuals helped contribute to your success on a certain project, be sure to recognize them, too. Lifting up others while lifting up yourself shows that you’re a generous team player and that you know how to give credit where it’s due.

Making a statement like, “my team played a critical role in the brainstorming process to generate this idea” ensures that other people get the recognition they rightfully deserve. Acknowledging the others who contributed to your success makes your self-promotion sound more authentic and humble without downplaying your accomplishments.

4. Own your accomplishments fully.

Avoid the humblebrag. It doesn’t belong here. While some might think that diminishing their successes establishes a sense of humility, it can seem insincere and runs the risk of alienating those who may view these efforts as angling for compliments. Self-deprecation also backfires, as it downplays your competence. State your achievements outright!

Embrace your skills, talents, and successes to their fullest and allow people to celebrate your accomplishments with you. If someone pays you a compliment, respond by thanking them graciously instead of brushing it off. This allows you to take the well-deserved praise to heart while still showing gratitude for the kind remark.

5. Align your achievements with the bigger picture.

When thinking about which accomplishments you want to share and who you should share them with, consider the impact of each one. Did you meet a certain strategic objective? Advance the company’s mission? Increase sales? This will help you determine if any other individuals (besides your boss) or departments would benefit from hearing about the successes of a project.

Put your achievements into broader context by connecting them to your organization’s greater mission, vision, or values. Instead of framing all your accomplishments as yours alone, you can frame them in the context of the impact of that specific project. Then you can add how you played a crucial role in making that happen.

Now that you know how awesome you are and how much you’ve achieved this year, we want to challenge you to share this with others. Celebrate your successes and the accomplishments of your team and peers with your “professional holiday letter.”  We hope you head into the new year feeling confident and proud of yourself personally and professionally!

Happy Holidays!

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