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What's on your top ten list? Get writing

Late December…you’ve eaten all the leftovers from Christmas dinner, been to the Boxing Day sales, and are starting to get a bit bored with the cricket. What now? If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to move forward in your career, now is a great time to reflect on the successes of 2017. These stories make a great basis for answers to interview questions.

A few years ago, I started a personal tradition of writing a top ten list of accomplishments I was proud of at the end of each year. Ironically, I started this practice at the end of “bad” year, professionally speaking. I was working in sales, and the usual measure of success is meeting sales targets. The first year I didn’t “make my number”, I decided to evaluate some of the other wins of the year.

People tell me I’m a bit like that character Joy from the movie “Inside Out”. I just can’t help myself; I always look for the positive in any situation. And I do have a pixie haircut… it just isn’t blue.

But I digress. As I was considering the “bad” year in question, I thought about several things;

  • What were my individual big wins?

  • Did I help anyone else achieve their goals?

  • How did I enhance my own professional development?

  • Was I successful in helping my team move forward?

  • Were there times when I delighted my customers?

  • Did I represent my organisation in a meaningful way?

  • Have I learned from mistakes and failures?

And sure enough, I could think of plenty of examples. Despite missing the overall sales target, there were difficult customers that I’d won over, new staff I’d trained, and I’d made significant contributions to team sales goals too. I’d represented my organisation by speaking at a national conference and spearheaded a successful charity drive as well. Certainly, the failures I’d had helped me understand where I’d gone wrong and helped me plan for future success.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you!

Your top ten list for 2017 can be a great starting point for preparing for a new job or promotion in 2018. When you write job applications, and especially when you are in a job interview, solid examples of success stories are a terrific way to demonstrate your skills. As you write your top ten list, think about your achievements in light of common interview questions:

  • Tell us about a time when you helped your team achieve a goal

  • Give an example of a time when you persevered despite setbacks

  • Explain how you advanced your own professional development this year

  • Describe a time when you contributed to a successful strategy at work

  • Tell us about how you managed conflict with a co-worker and still built a successful working relationship

  • Describe a time when things didn’t go to plan, what you learned from the experience, and how you applied that learning to a new task.

I know it sounds obvious, but when I say WRITE your top ten list, I mean exactly that. Pondering is good, but nothing solidifies your thinking quite like writing. Do it now, and you can review your list regularly as you plan for each application and interview that comes up.

I hope you enjoy celebrating your successes this year by completing your top ten list. Wishing you every success and happiness for 2018…and if a new job is on your wish list- go for it!

Happy New Year!

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