Don't undersell yourself!

Don't undersell yourself!
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Let me start with an example. Early in my career, I worked on a project that helped combine many SQL databases and decommissioned roughly half of the servers and nightly batch processes, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings every year.

Come review time; I proudly noted that I "created SQL scripts that enabled data consolidation and migration." Do you see the issue there? Fortunately, my manager pushed me to re-align my year-end review based on the business impact. What I thought was minor work at the time was one of the key reasons I got an opportunity to interview at Microsoft's headquarters in the US.

Learn to project your work well, Presenting your work is your headache. Not your manager’s. Not your peers', and definitely not something your work will do by itself. Even the most beautiful paintings in the world are only worth much because of the art critics who interpret them.

There are specific steps to doing this, and once you get the hang of it and see its benefits, you would not try to do it any other way.

  • Look for the impact that your work has had, and not the work itself. The impact you've had should be relevant to the group and the company you are working at.
  • See things objectively, not subjectively. Stop using better, faster, easier. Tell better by how much, faster by what multiple, and easier how. Objectivity helps you measure.
  • Keep yourself so objective there is nothing that's up for debate. Subjectivity leads to discussions and opinions. Use objectivity to fight.
  • Keep it concise. When you want to project confidence, concise wins hands down long-form any day. It shows that you know what you are talking about without padding words that don't contribute.
  • Talk about the time it took. Always. Your achievements are worth much more when you did things in a shorter period. Make that stand out.

If you’re fortunate and have terrific people who dedicated their lives to helping you propel in your job, they may speak for your work. But 99% of the time, you know this is not the case - they exist only in fairy tales.

So, just like a piece of art's true worth is revealed by a critic, your work, no matter how brilliant it is, requires someone to speak for it, and that someone should be you.

I write about growing as a developer and career in tech. — You can connect with me on Twitter, and LinkedIn.