Out of the many buzz words currently circling in the working world today, ‘impact’ has to be one of the most popular. It’s making an appearance all over the place, from describing new forms of technology changing our lives to individuals changing our thoughts about how we live our lives. One of the dictionary definitions of impact contains these same disruptive changes, while another is more subtle, merely defining impact with two words: ‘influence, effect’.
Yet these words contain a great deal of meaning if applied to your own work life. For example, as it’s still the start of a new year, you might look back at your job over the past twelve months and ask yourself, ‘Have I experienced impact of any kind on the job?’
I thought about this question in relation to people’s presence on social media, more specifically about the professional network LinkedIn. Previously, I’ve preached about the importance of your having a well-written Summary here – why? It’s the place where readers look to get a quick idea of who you are and what you do at work. The last part is easy, the first less so; I read many summaries where people have just basically listed their job descriptions, ones that just repeat what I can read further down the page under their employment history. Good enough, but nothing that stands out. Question: What could they do to improve this picture? Answer: They have to use the idea of impact in their writing:
Which they/you can do in two steps: 1) Sit down and have a good think about how you’ve been affected by ‘impact’ over the past year at work. Have you taken on a new assignment? Completed a new project? Expanded your network – if so, who are your new contacts? The ‘influence and effect’ don’t have to be huge and groundbreaking, but what kinds of change have you experienced at your job that you can put in writing?
Most importantly, what have you learned from these experiences? How have you moved forward instead of just standing still, doing the same old tasks day after working day? How have you grown, professionally speaking?
…2) Write these changes into your Summary. If it’s too difficult to put them into complete sentences, make a bullet list of your points from 1) that show your reader quickly and concisely the ways in which you’ve been affected by impact. Your written result will be more than worth the time and effort you’ve put into this task, and you’ll know that you’ve done your best to show who you are as a career-oriented professional to any reader who makes a digital stop at your digital profile.
More disturbingly, what if you have that ‘good think’, and yet can’t think of any area in which you’ve been affected by/made an impact at work over the past year? Then, my friend, you need to rethink about why this so – and either take immediate steps to talk to someone at work who can help you change this situation for the better or, more drastically, take steps to find a new workplace that will allow you to experience what we all need at work – the chance to learn, the chance to be challenged, and the chance show just how much you can do.