What's Your Achilles Heel?
Posted on 29th January 2021 at 10:49
When Achilles’ mother, Thetis, dipped her son in the River Styx, in order to try to prevent his premature death she held him by his heel! That sounds kind of painful doesn’t it?! Her intentions though were good. Little did she realise that because Achilles’ heel remained dry it would become his weakness.
In the modern day the expression, “Achilles’ Heel,” means “area of weakness,” or ”vulnerable spot.” Achilles won many battles during several wars and it is said that he finally succumbed to death when he suffered an injury to his heel. It seems unlikely and it has always interested me just how much truth is behind the mythology in many of these stories.
Nonetheless, there is certainly truth in the fact that many of us do have an Achilles Heel, or perhaps a few of them!
I’d bet good money that many people’s Achilles’ Heel is not being able to sell themselves as well as they deserve. I recently read a fantastic article, written by a jobseeker on Linkedin. It started me thinking about this subject. The jobseeker managed to sell themselves better than I have ever seen before, but without any hint of bragging or grandiosity. I am sure many candidates struggle to sell themselves as they deserve, simply because they are reserved and don’t want to appear self congratulatory.
How did this jobseeker manage to sell their attributes without coming across immodestly? Well, they set out their job descriptions expansively and explained exactly what it was they had undertaken, the skills and experience developed over a number of years, a good reason as to why they had been successful, but over and above everything, there was a feeling of pure honesty running throughout the article. I think it might be the ‘frankness’ of it all.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but as you read it, you just want to carry on reading through the author's honest directness. There is nothing ground-breaking, which is not to demean the achievements or feelings you get for a high level of competency, drive and ambition, but it feels so incredibly honest and certainly leaves the reader in no doubt whatsoever that this jobseeker loved their role, gave everything in the role and would certainly be worth employing.
In fact, I’d say that readers of it would probably give this person a shot in a variety of sectors and be confident they’d succeed. There is not a hint or a question of doubt and I think that can be quite rare in the recruitment and job search sector. Of course, I’m not suggesting that other jobseekers are going around making stuff up, or lying on CVs and applications, but if there was a way to write a piece about yourself, then this would be it. Frank, direct, no nonsense. A ‘Ronseal’ and ‘Carlsberg’ combo of an article. Some readers may follow!
I started to wonder whether this style could be replicated by others, producing an account of their work history in a persuasive and compelling article without feeling they were bragging.
What did I gain from reading this article, apart from a warm glow all day? Well, I think it is to be honest when you assess yourself. Don’t hold back and similarly, don’t over egg it. That doesn’t mean don’t sell your strengths, which should become apparent when you write this article with frankness. These will be the parts which prove your abilities to solve potential employers’ problems.
If you find yourself in a job search situation, write an article about yourself. Think about your first role and what you achieved and then do the same for the role after that and so on. What features of YOU made your achievements possible and how did they lead onto your next role? How did you accomplish what you did? What knowledge did you possess which others may not? How did you apply this? If you didn’t enjoy a particular role, write honestly about that too. Remember, quite often roles undertaken quite a few years ago might not even make it onto your current CV, but writing this article, for yourself or for a trusted relative or coach to read, might enable you to have a better understanding of how you have developed.
What we are aiming for is a chronological description of your career arriving at the point you find yourself at today, so actually the other way around from how CVs are presented. This is an article (not your CV!) and so you can be as expansive as you desire. I think the key is to write freely and not in the way you would be trying to if writing your CV. In fact, over the years, I have read many CVs that were written and presented in this way and sometimes they have really been great, the only problem being that having a CV in this format means you will turn many recruiters and hiring managers off who simply don't invest their time in reading them.
This article does not have to be published or read by anyone else, but used to identify exactly where you are and what you want through your development over time. Explain HOW you achieved what you did in your roles and work through other roles and positions doing the same thing. Identify your self development and tell the story and the evolution.
On a CV you will set out your key selling points and deliver these with impact, which means succinctly and highly targeted to a specific role or audience. But it won’t hurt to write this article about yourself honestly and expansively. In fact it will help you hugely before you write your new CV. Employers are looking for HOW you can solve their problems and you can only demonstrate this if you are fully aware of how you have done this previously. More than ever, you need to unashamedly own your achievements and be ready to present these frankly and without any self deprecation. Writing an article like this first, expansively without missing anything or feeling like you have to be succinct, may just offer you that freedom for a little self discovery. The succinct part, analysing this document once complete and then fine tuning it, along with undertaking a skills analysis (good coaches will show you how!), will allow you to develop the perfect CV.
By telling the story to yourself and writing it down you’ll remind yourself of the ‘hows’ and maybe bypass the Achilles’ Heel that many people have and come up with a narrative which really encompasses what you are all about. Just like Achilles, you possess many strengths and skills but there is just one problem which could be detrimental and that is not selling yourself.
Write the article. Tell your career story. Write it honestly and with frankness. Tell it just as it is. Warts and all.
I’d be more than happy to read it anytime! And I'm sure if I asked nicely, the author of the article who inspired this one would let me share theirs with you.
Share this post: