In this week’s Praxis Monday session, we talked about the art of documenting your work — more specifically, how to document your work in a way that hiring managers care about.
At Praxis, we talk a lot about the importance of documentation. If you don’t document it, no one knows it exists — and if people don’t know what you’re working on, they can’t be excited about those things. (By extension, those things can’t be reasons why they’d want to work with you.)
But just documenting your work isn’t enough. You have to talk about the things you’re working on in a way that other people care about, and you have to know which components of your work are most valuable to put out into the world.
In this week’s workshop, we answered the following question: when you’re talking about your work, what do hiring managers actually care about?
In short, hiring managers are looking for information about the people they might hire, or might work with in the future. Good documentation provides that information in a clear and concise way.
There are four levels (or tiers) of documentation:
Bad documentation, which makes people want to actively avoid working with you.
Mediocre documentation, which no one really cares about. It’s unimpressive and immemorable. People read it and move on.
Good documentation, which makes people curious to know more (and warrants the time to click through someone’s social media profile to learn more about them, or start a conversation).
Great documentation, which paints a picture of exactly what it would be like to work with you, and makes the reader want that experience for themselves.
So what types of things you do you need to be sharing to achieve that fourth tier, and paint an accurate picture of what it’s like to work with you?
Here’s what hiring managers actually care about:
- specific metrics and numbers
- specific tools you use (software or otherwise)
- your hard skills, and what they look like in action
- the processes and systems you employ to get your work done
- measurable improvements in your systems (and results)
- how you analyze (and improve from) your results
Here’s what hiring managers don’t care about:
- vague statements
- how you feel about your work
- how you feel about your results
- how what’s going on outside of work impacts your performance
- how many hours you work (because you can do a small amount of work in a large amount of time. Hours aren’t actually a good indicator of how much you’re working)
Let’s put this in action.
Vague documentation: “This week I wrote a bunch of cold emails, and I saw a significant increase in responses after changing some of my copy.”
Clear documentation: “This week I wrote 20 cold emails a day. I experimented with more targeted opening remarks, and I got my response numbers up to 8% (as opposed to the normal 5%).”
The second example is specific. It tells you exactly what “a bunch,” means, exactly what “changing some copy” means, and exactly what type of results were obtained.
The first example leaves the reader with questions. The second example tells the reader exactly why what you’re doing is impressive, and how you’re growing.
Want to put this in action? Take the most recent thing you wrote on your personal blog or on Medium (and if you don’t have a blog, then your most recent professionally-relevant social media posts). Ask yourself — if you were a hiring manager, what questions would you still have about what this person is capable of doing?
Bonus point: how you’re using social media is important too!
Most people see the work you’re doing through your social media presence. What you’re sharing on social (especially Twitter and LinkedIn, the two most professionally-relevant platforms) is really important. How are you talking about the work you do? What specific examples of your work are you sharing?
If you want a fun exercise, take a look at the social media profiles linked below. Take 2-3 minutes to skim through them, and then make a list of your most important observations. How are these people talking about their work? What are they sharing? What’s their strategy for promoting their work online?