by Rick Gillis

Promoting Yourself Over the Watercooler

Mar 20, 20155 mins
CareersIT JobsIT Leadership

Your goal is to see that decision makers are aware of the value you bring to the organization. Casual encounters, even of the social media type, can be personal promotion opportunities. (Serialized from Rick Gillis' just-published "PROMOTE!)


Back in my post, Professional Accomplishments: The Shortest Distance to Indispensable (2/5/15), there is a link to a sample copy of Janet Best’s Accomplishments Inventory. You may want to refer to that link/this document while I discuss formatting. (BTW, I assume you know that Janet and her Accomplishments Statement are fictitious.)

Your Accomplishments Statement, in final presentation, is meant to be as formal and attractive as a resume/CV or a cover letter and when presented, is designed to convey the professionalism of the person presenting it. You will get your supervisor’s preliminary attention with formatting and then knock their socks off with content. So plan on spending a little time buffing out the margins, centering and, of course, no typos!

In the header, list your name, the title of the document, telephone number and email address. They are the minimum. Depending on where and to whom you are presenting this document, you may also want to include your current job title and location within the organization. You will know what is appropriate when the time comes.

Reviewing the sample document, take a look at Janet’s header.

Janet titles her document “Statement of Professional Accomplishments” followed on the next line with her company’s name, her corporate title, email address and direct phone number. You may find it reasonable to include a city and state and/or your postal mailing address.

Below the header, without a title or any explanation (none is necessary), Janet lists the accomplishments she considers the most valuable for her immediate supervisor and above to recognize. It doesn’t matter that her supervisor may already know this information. Re-ringing a bell can have an impact.

Note that Janet lists her accomplishments using the Accomplishment Inventory formula: Accomplishment + “resulting in” + Value Statement. There are no company names, no time frame, none of the embellishments that you would find on a standard resume.

She has organized them in the order she personally feels makes the best case for her efforts. This is something you need to do based on your job, what your supervisor expects of you and the inside knowledge you have from being on the job.

Note that Janet’s accomplishments are not numbered. This is by design so that no one accomplishment appears more important than any other. By using bullets instead of numbers you do not grant one accomplishment more value over another.

There is a double space between each of Janet’s accomplishments, leaving a lot of white space so that this page reads easily. It also allows each accomplishment to stand on its own merits while inviting discussion. When your boss asks for more details, you have the perfect opportunity to have a focused discussion on your specific value to her.

In theory, there is no limit, no right number of accomplishments to include. In reality there is a protocol that is dictated by your company culture, your manager and you. You will know what the right number is. If you are in sales, two or more pages may be appropriate. Any other occupation will most likely be best served by presenting a single page. Stick with your intuition on this one.

Side note: I strongly suggest compiling your achievements into a journal but I do not recommend presenting this digest to management. View your journal as an archive of your professional history. In the event of a downsizing, you may want to produce it as validation of the value you have contributed and if current, will support your continued contributions.
The secondary value of your journal is providing you with all the highlights of your career when you decide to pen your biography!

As I have said several times throughout this book your goal is to see that decision makers are aware of the value you bring to the organization. All your work in gathering and writing your accomplishments, organizing them into a compelling list and creating a clean, clear presentation of them will get the job done.


You’ve done all this work. You have an amazing list of your highest and best accomplishments all laid out for the world to see. How are you going to use them?

If you are able to engage your boss casually over the water cooler you may be able to go about informing her about your latest, greatest accomplishment she may not be aware of. This would be, in my mind, a best scenario application: Truly informing, as opposed to boasting, about something you have done recently that you are proud of and feel worthy of mentioning. Interestingly, it is a very real possibility that in the course of your career you may never actually present your formal Accomplishments Statement to a supervisor. This assumes you are consistently able to seize the opportunity for one-on-one discussion. This possibility does not give you permission not to have a formal document prepared for other eventualities.

Here is a short list of those times when you may find it handy and necessary to have a printed Accomplishments Statement in hand.

  • Performance reviews
  • Requesting a raise or conducting a salary negotiation
  • Contract negotiation for those of you who work by contract
  • In defense of termination due to downsizing

This is by no means an all-inclusive list but you get the idea. Your Accomplishments Statement, besides providing confidence, motivation and poise for you personally is a tool that can be applied many times throughout your 40 years.