Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

Instead learn how you can compare yourself to yourself and embrace your progress

I remember when I was a little girl, my mother used to remind me that if I was jealous of another girl's toys, clothes or some other manifestation of her life that I couldn't just "swap" one element of my existence for hers. She used to say, "If you want to trade places with little Annie, remember you have to trade everything in your life for everything in hers." Suddenly, I wasn't so jealous that little Annie had more toys or nicer clothes, because I'd remember how mean her dad was or how terrible she was at math.

It's a silly story, perhaps, as even if I did want to trade places with little Annie, I couldn't have, but the underlying lesson -- that comparing oneself to someone else or looking upon someone else's life with a sense of focused jealousy -- is a dangerous and unhelpful thing.

What makes this even harder is that throughout our lives we're often set up in situations in which others are comparing us, often against our peers. And this can be especially obvious when we're talking about careers, as performance reviews, promotions and even an interview setting can feel like nothing but deciding whether your particular skills, strengths and qualifications are better / more worthy than the person next to you.

I've worked with several clients now who find themselves falling into this trap of comparison as they're trying to transition from one career to another, and do you know what tends to be the trigger? LinkedIn. Before we had the internet, resumes were pretty hush hush -- you only saw another person's accomplishments if you were a recruiter or hiring manager -- but today we've got every piece of work experience, every project, every recommendation and every success blasted on the internet for everyone to see.

Changing careers is already an uphill battle. You have to take a rigorous, 360-degree approach to your job search, perhaps even putting in what you perceive to be more effort than your peers. So even though LinkedIn becomes a great tool for finding future networking connections or learning about roles you're interested in, it can also be a landmine where all of a sudden your own background and experiences start to look woefully inadequate.


First of all, LinkedIn is a marketing tool. Just as you wouldn't show up to a beauty pageant after rolling out of bed, you wouldn't show up to a party where all of the world's recruiters are hunting for job prospects without showcasing your best aspects. People who have good LinkedIn profiles do because they've often spent hours curating their greatest accomplishments and impact statements, reaching out to (often) tens or hundreds of contacts requesting recommendations, scouring the internet for media that showcase their work, etc.

ANYONE can do this with time and effort, which not only means that you can have a stellar LinkedIn profile that looks just as impressive, but also that everyone's profiles should be analyzed with a grain of salt (this is a performance people practice for!).

Secondly, LinkedIn may be the "professional" social network, but just like you shouldn't think someone has a perfect life because they only post happy, bikini beach pictures on Facebook, don't make assumptions about someone's happiness or success based on their LinkedIn profile.

Case in point: I started my career at The Walt Disney Company. I got an MBA from Harvard Business School. I got promoted and worked at Capital One. And I was fucking miserable.

You would never have known this from my smiling profile picture or gleaming statistics. In fact, none of the negative things I experienced from any of my jobs are showcased in my profile. You don't know why I transitioned from role to role. You don't know my salary, what my bosses were like, whether I worked with kind people or whether I faced sexual harassment at work. All you know is that I have some fancy names and that my career appears to be perfect.

When you compare yourself to someone else without full and complete information to drive the comparison, the only thing you are doing is contributing to your own negative feelings about yourself. And when you're already attempting to do something that makes you uncomfortable or that challenges you, this negative energy that you're creating will do nothing but inhibit you from making progress toward your goal. There is absolutely not one ounce of benefit to this behavior.

Here's what to do instead:

1) Keep track of your own strengths, skills, values, accomplishments and impacts. Write down the things that you did in detail, focusing on the people you affected positively or the way you helped the business achieve a goal. Update the list regularly and refer back to it consistently when you're feeling down about yourself.

2) Develop a progress chart that indicates where you want to see forward progress in your life. Do you lack confidence when it comes to networking? Do you feel your resume needs a refresh? Write down the areas that you'd like to see yourself grow.

3) Set specific, time- and action-based goals and instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself. You wanted to revamp your resume over the course of four weeks and did it in 2? Celebrate! You wanted to increase your confidence in networking and you've now completed X informational interviews or attended X in-person networking events? Celebrate this too.

The only fair comparison that you can make...the only situation in which you have complete information...is when you're comparing the person you are today to the person that you were yesterday and the person you want to be tomorrow.

You control your actions, behaviors and emotions today and always. You decide when you want to change and how you want to embrace or react to that change. Stop drawing conclusions about other people's lives or making assumptions about their level of greatness and focus instead on improving your own life and making yourself great. I promise you that the inward focus will not only make you a more tolerant, empathetic and less judgmental individual, but it will also make you realize just how fantastic you are, too.


Are you Unhappily Employed? Stressed, frustrated and confused by a job that you hate? Download my free eBook to getting unstuck and get on the path to finding a career that makes you happy.

Want to learn more about how we can work together on your individual interviewing skills? Request a free, 30-minute meet and greet and we can chat about you and your goals!

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bill is a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. She coaches groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to their career. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.gabriellebill.com