By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer
When I was a kid and made our town’s Little League baseball team, I ran to my neighbor’s house where my father was helping our friend fix a lawnmower. I burst into the garage and told my father with pride that I’d made the team. His response was to tell me not to brag.
I’ve thought for a long time that my father taught me that day an important lesson about humility. Now I’m not so sure it was a good lesson. It seems that we, as a society, don’t promote ourselves enough. This is particularly true about my valued customers who need to promote themselves. According to Myers Briggs experts, it’s also true about introverts.
I read an article, Why You Should be a Shameless Self Promoter, in which the author, Kevin Daum, speaks of three reasons why entrepreneurs should promote themselves. It resonated with me because he broaches a topic that many people feel uncomfortable about, self-promotion.
While we need to self-promote, the author claims, we also can’t cross that line that is unclear to many. He writes: “So we need to shamelessly self-promote, loud, strong and often. And yet somehow we have to keep from crossing that line of being annoying and offensive.”
I understand there are reasons why my jobseekers–especially introverts–don’t feel comfortable promoting themselves. One obvious reason is that their confidence is shattered; and when you’ve been kicked in the gut, it’s hard to muster up the ability to talk about yourself in a positive, objective way—which is to say, not brag.
But there are three tips the author provides entrepreneurs for “shameless self-promotion.” I agree with them but have adapted his tips for jobseekers. I also think the word “shameless” is a bit strong.
1. Be interesting.
Know what interests potential employers. If you have the same goals in common, this makes self-promotion all that much easier. This gives you free reign to highlight your accomplishments and related experience, as long as they apply to the job, which is what interests the employer.
2. Be authentic.
The author advises “getting others to promote you openly will actually work even better than talking about yourself. If you can’t engage other people to talk about your accomplishment, then maybe it’s not worth talking about.” The situation is a bit different when you’re looking for work. You have no one who will be there day and night to talk on your behalf, so it’s really up to you to take charge and accurately promote your job-related accomplishments.
3. Provide value.
Getting back to reason number two; any self-promoting you do for the employer’s sake has to have relevance. If he’s looking for someone who has demonstrated superb written communications, you should not talk about the numerous presentations you gave before packed houses; ones that brought the crowds to their feet and applauded your verbal communication skills. You will come across as a round peg for the employer’s square whole.
4. Don’t over-due it.
This is my own reason for self-promotion. Avoid using words like “great,” “outstanding,” “the best,” etc. It is far better to provide facts than conjecture. For example, “I was the best counselor on the staff“comes across as bragging without any substance. Better put would be, “Among my colleagues, I was given the highest-level customers on a regular basis. I was trusted by management to give them the service they needed.” Yes, you were the best.
The simple fact is that you as a jobseeker must promote yourself, because you can’t rely on others to be there by your side in your job search (related to number 2). The author talks about how we were taught not to brag, like the time I rushed to my father proud of my accomplishment. Don’t brag, but don’t refrain from self-promotion when the time is right, like while networking or at an interview or in your written communications. The time is now.
About the Author
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob’s blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.