There is no excuse for not selling yourself. 2 areas in which you must succeed

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I can’t sell myself. I just can’t brag.” This coming from jobseekers in my workshops, I understand their consternation yet can’t feign empathy. This would be a disservice to them, to all jobseekers.

There are two undeniable truths. First, if you don’t sell yourself, no one will. It’s like waiting for Prince Charming to arrive or waiting for a job to jump in your lap, none of which are going to happen.

Second, no one is asking you to brag, not even the employer. He’s asking you to promote your accomplishments and relate your skills to the job at hand. No one likes a braggart.

So how do you sell yourself? Selling yourself is going to involve developing a campaign that requires you to use your verbal and written communication skills.

Written skills

Most believe, understandingly so, that your résumé and cover letter will be the first contact you’ll have with an employer. Let’s assume this is true, at least 98% of the time (some jobseekers network their way to a job with applying for it using the traditional method). A compelling résumé must include, among other components a branding headline; non-fluff, professional profile; and a robust employment history consisting mostly of accomplishment statements and duties of interest to the employer.

So far you’re not bragging, are you? Also included in your written campaign are your cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Like your résumé, they must promote (not brag about) your accomplishments. The cover letter is tailored to each specific job (as should your résumé) and entices the employer to read your résumé. It points out your experience, skills and accomplishments pertinent to the position at hand. No bragging yet.

Increasingly more employers are enabling the Hidden Job Market by cruising the Internet searching for LinkedIn profiles that meet their lofty expectations, so don’t disappoint. Many have put it best: “If you’re not going to put the required effort into you LinkedIn profile, don’t bother having one.”

Verbal communications

This is an area where my jobseekers have the most difficulty promoting themselves. For example, as they read their written commercials, I don’t hear the enthusiasm in their delivery. Unbeknownst to them, when they talk about their accomplishments with pride, other attendees admire their confidence.

Confidence carries over to you networking efforts. Delivering your commercial in a natural way is how people want to know about your accomplishments and outstanding skills. Remember, at a networking event or even when you’re out and about, people who ask about your job transition want to hear about what you do, have accomplished, and want to do in the future. Also remember that listening to fellow networkers is just as important as talking about yourself.

On the telephone during an interview or leaving a message, promote yourself by explaining why you are the right person for the job. Again, demonstrating confidence, not arrogance, is essential. Confidence is one important skills employers look for in a candidate.

Finally there’s the interview. I can’t tell you how many people fall back into the “we” statements when describing successful projects or programs. Interviewers want to hear about your role in the process, not your teammates. You’re the one they’re considering hiring. Don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments with pride, without coming across as bragging. No one likes a braggart. People appreciate others who are proud of their accomplishments.


11 thoughts on “There is no excuse for not selling yourself. 2 areas in which you must succeed

  1. Arleen Bradley

    Great post with valuable information. Not promoting oneself holds many people back. Job searchers have to brag about themselves without sounding conceited. A much needed skill.


  2. Gustavo Garcia

    This post is so simple, but yet it carries so much truth – it speaks to me as one challenged when it comes to promoting myself. This one I will refer to again. Thanks!


  3. Gustavo Garcia

    This post is so simple, yet it carries so much truth. I feel it speaks to me in particular since I find it so challenging to promote myself. I will read it again.


  4. John Wolforth

    Bob, an insightful post as always. As when you’re selling a product, selling yourself requires establishing rapport, which in turn creates an atmosphere of comfort and enables you to be more confident when speaking of your accomplishments. Your likeability quotient (rapport divided by genuine interest in what the other person is saying) is a key aspect of you winning the job. After all, job seeking is networking.


  5. Debbie Wilson

    This is masterful…simple and yet wonderfully complete. If a job seeker is feeling discomfort, find a qualified and knowledgeable guide or mentor. Go over the paperwork and how you plan to market your skills so that you can feel prepared and secure when you meet with the potential “buyer” and then demonstrate why you are the person who can do the work.


  6. Kate Messner

    Great post, Bob, as usual. And excellent comments as well. There is little question about the power of positive thinking as well as the power of language to influence. So if I can just replace “selling myself” with “promoting my accomplishments” and “relating them to the job at hand” (because,as you correclty say, nobody else will), it somehow makes the job search not just more palatable, but maybe even appealing.

    I love to communicate, I love to build rapport, and I love to promote – things I believe in. So it’s really “just” a question of putting these together, isn’t it? And then, of course, taking that from the head to the hands (i.e. keyboard), for the written part & the mouth (adorned with smile) for the verbal. OK, back to that resume that is not an English thesis or dissertation, but a brochure stressing highlights, because the reader doesn’t have time or desire for detail at this point in the process.



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