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This isn’t always the most obvious, and it isn’t necessarily the achievement we put on our résumé.
In other posts, I’ve demonstrated and encouraged how to articulate our achievements. But what we consider a great achievement at work isn’t always our greatest personal achievement at work. It’s not even our greatest career achievement, necessarily.
I will give you an example using my own ‘greatest personal achievement’ at work. First, a bit of background. As a kid, I had aspirations to become an entrepreneur, even before I knew that word existed. I would sell stuff I made to family and friends. I would create fairs and curiosities and charge people to see them. Then I discovered beer and girls and my enthusiasm dropped away, but my dream didn’t. I started my professional career in IT. I did a Bachelors degree in Computer Science. This was before the Internet became what it is today. I started working at Microsoft and then Oracle – the two biggest software companies at the time. This was before the days of Apple (as we know it today), Google and Amazon. Then I moved around software and IT consultancy start-ups, eventually becoming Head of IT of an investments provider. I was ‘IT’ through-and-through.
But I wanted more than this and achieve my childhood dreams – to break into the ‘business’ side of business, to put me on track to becoming an entrepreneur. I yearned to be counted amongst my business colleagues, and to aim for a seat around the boardroom table, to learn the ropes and how to lead business. So I did my MBA, whilst still working, and this took a lot out of me but I enjoyed every minute of it. But this was the start of my transition, not the end or even the middle. Since then, I took on roles that were increasingly business ‘proposition’ and business ‘delivery’ focused.
Then I took a big risk, by breaking away from the bosom of a ‘corporate’ family and started a new venture.
Now, I am a business owner and entrepreneur working on major client projects. I still draw on my IT skills and background, because in today’s business environment, very few business projects and initiatives don’t involve information technology. But I can choose who I work for, and what roles to take on. I enjoy much more varied work, I engage with a wider variety of people, and the results of my work can be observed much widely by my stakeholders. I am far from the ‘finished article’ and still have a lot to learn. But I am on my desired track.
So my greatest personal achievement:
I have become a business owner and entrepreneur, by taking a calculate risk to start a business from scratch, which now affords me choice, an asset of growing value, and a 30% increase in income.
In order to get there, I had to make career choices and take some risks. The risks paid off, in the end. So my greatest career achievement, in support of my greatest personal achievement, is:
I have successfully transitioned from IT-only roles to business-focused roles resulting in more personal fulfilment and satisfaction, greater commercial exposure and confidence to take on different roles.
I don’t normally say this in my résumé. Perhaps I should!?
What about Your Greatest Personal Achievement at Work?
You have career goals; are they in support of your personal goals? Ask yourself what personal goals have you achieved that your career has actually enabled you to deliver? This is your answer.
Then describe it using the structure I have developed here in my post 7 Keys to Describe Your Achievements – Know Any More?