Toot your own horn at work

Do you think it’s bad to talk about what you’ve done? Do you have an aversion to self-promotion? Learn to get over that for the sake of your career. Remember the first rule of career management: Your awesomeness is not self-evident.

Your performance at work is judged on your achievements. You need to let your boss know what it is you’ve done if he’s to judge your skills fairly.

When the boss comes and asks how things have been going, instead of

I’ve just been working on that customer record data conversion.

you say

I’ve been working on that data conversion, which has been pretty interesting. I was only getting throughput of 500 records per minute, which would have taken far too long. Turns out that the profiler showed that 60% of the time was spent in doing the vendor lookup. So I hacked together a little Ruby program to build an intermediate Berkeley DB and bypass the Oracle connection. Now it’s cranking through about 6400 records a minute. Much nicer.

This little explanation has threefold benefits. First, your boss knows what you did, and has a better idea of your skills and achievements. This can only help when it comes time for performance reviews.

Second, your success can infect the rest of the department. Maybe the boss will bring it up at a team meeting, and others can learn from you. Maybe he’ll mention it to another team member in a similar situation. (When people ask things like “We’re a Java shop, how can I get the boss to use Ruby?”, it’s examples like this that are steps in the right direction.)

Third, if your boss has any micromanagerial tendencies, this will help fend those off. Bosses micromanage because they’re afraid you’re going to screw something up. When you make it explicitly clear that you know what’s going, you help soothe those fears and may well minimize the micromanagement.

Learn to effectively and tactfully talk about your achievements. Your reputation and paycheck will thank you.

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