Friday , February 23 2024
"We are taught at a very young age not to brag, but we're never untaught that message — and unless we inform our superiors and bosses of our accomplishments, we may be in danger of losing our jobs, or being passed over for that next promotion."

Interview with Rick Gillis, Author of ‘Promote!’

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rick Gillis, author of PROMOTE! It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career, which I reviewed earlier on this site. Rick is a nationally recognized job search “mechanic” and has developed a simple model for helping employees keep their jobs or get ahead. I asked him about why we need the model, and how to apply it.

Describe what you mean by “informing your way to the top.”

For many years I have “done” job search. I helped launch the first job board in Houston. After its success, I was asked to speak to job search groups across the nation. What I learned is that too many highly qualified, exceptionally talented and capable people of a certain — ahem —age (usually 50+) were terminated due to management’s not understanding their continuing value to the organization. And that lack of understanding was entirely due to management’s not being informed of it.

Had these people been continuously and appropriately informing their supervisors — had they been communicating, speaking to (use any term except for bragging/boasting) the value they were bringing, they could still be at their jobs.

This is not just an age-discrimination issue. Talented people of all walks of life, including age, color, gender, sexual orientation and so on get kicked to the curb just for not being in the right place at the right time. I am working with a client now who was recently terminated from his job. When we went through his last three years of projects, we determined he had been involved in adding $170,000,000 (yes, millions!) of value to the company. He should have taken that information to the boss prior to accepting his termination. I have found that when people quantify their value, they generally amaze themselves. Even college kids!

It is mandatory that employees maintain this “informing their way to the top” mindset until the day they accept their gold watch.

You make the case that employees need to instruct their bosses/supervisors in just what it is that they do. Shouldn’t their supervisors already know?

Never assume that anyone, even your immediate supervisor, knows exactly what you do. This is on-the-job career mistake Number One. Your boss has other workers and responsibilities (both up and down the chain of command) to deal with.

Also, bosses and supervisors are driven to promote themselves, and often do so by taking credit for subordinates’ efforts. This is why you must communicate your value to your boss’s boss as well — and even higher up the ranks — when the opportunity arises. What happens if your immediate boss takes a new job? Does her boss know your value? Are you positioned for promotion? Be prepared to step up with a list of personal on-the-job bests.

Why is it hard for people to promote themselves?

It comes down to how we are brought up. We are taught at a very young age not to brag. This is both cultural and religious, and is appropriate to be taught as youngsters. The problem is that we are never untaught that message, and it lingers with us our entire lives. PROMOTE! is about unlearning this behavior and then appropriately communicating our value on a consistent basis.

How do you develop a compelling story about your accomplishments?

First, take what you perceive to have been a personal win. Review old resumes and performance reports, and talk with coworkers, friends, family, customers and vendors to get their ideas on any wins you have had.

Next, draft the background on that accomplishment. Write the What, Where, When, Why and How — and Who too, if it helps to tell the story. Include problems and obstacles. Problems create opportunities. If you can solve problems, you will always have a job.

The rule for creating a single bullet-point accomplishment is it must have a beginning, a middle and an end. For example: Responsible for 49% of all sales that resulted in $3,200,000 in annual revenue.

The beginning: Responsible for 49% of all sales
The middle: that resulted in
The end: $3,200,000 in annual revenue.

This is the statement you would write on a resume, add to a Personal Accomplishments Statement, or mention to an employer. By writing the accomplishment back stories, you have them at the top of your mind, and are ready to discuss them when anyone asks for details.

When is the best time to share your accomplishments?

Anytime you have your boss, or her/his boss’s ear: Around the coffeemaker, in the elevator, over drinks. Continually look for opportunities to address an accomplishment with someone who matters, AND when you can do so appropriately. This is why I call it “informing your way to the top.”


For more on PROMOTE!, visit:

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About Patricia Gale

Patricia Gale has written and ghostwritten hundreds of blogs and articles that have appeared on sites such as Psychology Today, Forbes, and Huffington Post, and in countless national newspapers and magazines. Her "beat" is health, business, career, self-help, parenting, and relationships.

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