Without a doubt, we need the pertinent professional skills to get where we need to go career-wise, but beyond that, our attitudes can define our path in a powerful way. By maintaining a positive–yet realistic–mindset, we can remain persistent and keep going when we might otherwise be tempted to give up.

These discussion and activity ideas from the Instructor Guide for Lauri Harwood’s Your Career: How To Make It Happen, Eighth Edition can help your students frame their knowledge, skills, and achievements in the most positive light. By participating in these activities, they’ll learn to express their accomplishments in concrete terms and prepare themselves to meet their future opportunities with confidence.

The purpose of this important activity is for students to practice discussing positive past accomplishments, preparing them to discuss their positive qualifications during the job search, particularly during interviews. Don’t tell students the purpose of this exercise until after they have completed it. Students like this exercise because it’s an energizing esteem booster.
Instruct students to write down two of their most important accomplishments (for example, achievements, skills developed, volunteer service, degrees earned, and bad habits overcome). Then ask students to work with a partner. Within the pairs, students take turns describing in detail one of their accomplishments. Have students describe their second accomplishment with a different partner. Next, encourage class discussion, including the following points:
  • Ask students how it felt to hear about their partners’ accomplishments.
  • Ask students how it felt to describe their own achievements.

This is excellent practice for answering behavioral interview questions that require applicants to describe specific accomplishments and strengths. If some students feel shy about reporting their successes, emphasize that this is a common feeling but that they need to overcome it to perform well in interviews and to achieve their other career goals.

Discuss how emphasizing accomplishments and skills differs from bragging. Bragging is boasting or exaggerating about abilities, often in an arrogant manner. Discussing accomplishments and skills, however, is simply reporting actual (unembellished) skills and competencies, backed by examples to demonstrate validity.
Ask this question: During an interview, you will be expected to emphasize your accomplishments, skills, etc. Is this bragging? Emphasize that job applicants must overcome feeling shy about discussing their accomplishments and qualifications. If they don’t discuss them, who will? And if they don’t, they won’t get the job!
This activity generates a positive chemistry because of the discussion of achievements. (Everyone likes to be reminded of his or her own successes, and it’s exciting to hear about those of others.) Point out that this is the feeling you want to generate in the interview—a sense of confidence and competence, the traits employers are actively seeking. Review the recommendations presented in the chapter for creating positive chemistry in the interview through positive, energizing behaviors. (pp. 5-6)

Reference: Harwood, Lauri. Instructor Guide to accompany Your Career: How To Make It Happen, Eighth Ed. (Chapter 1). 2013. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

To what degree has a positive, success-oriented mindset helped you in your own career? How do you encourage this same attitude in your students? Share your thoughts below.