Tag Archives: self-promotion

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 from my clients, “I can’t sell myself. I just can’t brag.” I understand their consternation, yet I can’t feign sympathy. This would be a disservice to them. What they need is positive reinforcement.

Job Interview

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, both of which aren’t 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

Your résumé. Most believe, understandingly so, that your résumé will be the first contact you’ll have with an employer. Let’s assume this is true, at least 85% of the time (some job seekers 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.

LinkedIn and cover letter. 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 kick-ass LinkedIn profiles that meet their lofty expectations, so don’t disappoint. In my opinion; If you’re not going to put the required effort into you LinkedIn profile, don’t bother having one.

Verbal communications

Your elevator pitch. This is an area where job seekers have the most difficulty promoting themselves. For example, as they recite their written elevator pitches in my workshops, 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. This is not bragging.

Networking. Confidence carries over to you networking efforts. Delivering your pitch 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. Too many people talk at networkers at an event. Or they feign listening, all the while waiting for their opportunity to talk.

Telephone interviews. 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.

The interview. Finally there’s the interview. I can’t tell you how many people fall back into “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. This shows confidence. Without saying you’re the best project manager to assume that position, talk about the time when you assessed a major problem one of your clients had, then how you orchestrated a team of 12 consultants to resolve the problem two weeks before the deadline.

Read the series on Nailing the interview process.

while not coming across as bragging. No one likes a braggart. People appreciate others who are proud of their accomplishments.

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5 tips for promoting yourself in the job search

baseball

When I made our town’s Little League All-Star team, I ran to my neighbor’s house where my father was helping him fix a lawnmower. I burst into the garage and told my father with pride that I’d made the team. Instead of sharing my excitement, he told me not to brag and turned to finish working on our neighbor’s lawnmower.

I’ve thought for a long time that that day my father taught me an important lesson about humility. Now I’m not so sure it was such an important lesson. Some believe that our inability to promote ourselves is due to being told as children not to brag. To brag is inappropriate; to be humble is honorable.

This inability to self-promote often rears its ugly head in my workshops when my customers declare they cannot “brag.” I assume, like me, they were told not to brag as children.

I also understand 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, yet objective way—which is to say, not brag. Here are five tips on how to promote yourself during the job search.

  • Understand your audience. Know what interests potential networkers and employers. If you have the “stage,” 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 search and eventually the position for which you’re applying. If, however, you’re in the company of people who have no interest in what you’ve achieved, save touting your accomplishments for the proper audience.
  • Back up your accomplishments. As a jobseeker, your accomplishments will seem more authentic if you have evidence to back them up, perhaps in the form of recommendations, awards, or outstanding references. As well, if you can quantify your accomplishments with percentages and dollars, they will carry more weight. What others say about you, I tell my customers, carries more weight then what you say about yourself. And always be truthful; never lie about your achievements. Lies will come back to bite you in the ass.
  • Be relevant. Any self-promotion has to have relevance. If the employer is looking for someone who has demonstrated superb written communications, you should not talk about the numerous presentations you gave before packed houses; you will come across as a round peg for the employer’s square whole. Think back to the times when you wrote the company newsletter and got published in trade magazines.
  • Don’t overdo it. 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.
  • Give credit where credit is due. I often tell my customers that they should talk about their accomplishments, because that’s what employers want to know; what they’ve accomplished. But when they’ve worked with a team that achieved a common goal, this needs to be expressed. No one likes a smoking gun who takes all the credit.

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. We’ve been taught not to brag, like the time I rushed to my father proud of making the town’s Little League All-Star team, but we have to realize that promoting ourselves at the right moment isn’t bragging.

Photo, Flickr, Roiz, Roiz, Play Baseball

Self-promotion is necessary in childhood and adulthood

kidz playing basketballI’m not worried about my son.

My son is in his second year of playing basketball. He’s quite good, for someone who just started playing, and talks a lot of trash. He’s usually the shortest kid on the court, but he’s fast and dives on the ground like Larry Bird used to.

All the parents get a kick out of watching him play. (One parent once asked me before a game how many times I thought he’d fall to the floor.)

The thing that makes going to his games fun for me is the conversations he and I have driving to and from the games. “Dad,” he’ll say, “how many buckets do you think I’ll get?”

“Four,” I’ll pick a number out of the air.

“How many steals and assists?”

“Four each.”

Wouldn’t you know it, he scores 10 points; steals a ton of balls from the slower, less interested kids; and passes the ball to four of his teammates who don’t know what to do with the a basketball.

I’m worried about my daughter.

My daughter is an excellent soccer player. She plays in the backfield and loves stripping the soccer ball from oncoming forwards. And she’ll take out anyone who comes near her, despite her rail-thin body type. I’ve witnessed her lay a tackle on girls twice her size, the collisions reminiscent of a train wreck.

The conversation she and I will have before a game is quiet like two hummingbirds. Occasionally she’ll ask me after a game what I thought of her performance, and I’ll use the old sandwich technique—compliment her on a crushing tackle, criticize her for letting a girl slip behind her, and finish by telling her she passed the ball well. These are great conversations between a dad and his daughter.

My daughter has been reserved and humble since she first started playing soccer. When she first stepped on the field, she was about the age my son is now, so I can gauge the differences between the two fairly accurately. It’s fair to say that my son promotes his skills more than my daughter does. Now, I didn’t say better. I said more.

It would be shallow of me to worry about who is the better athlete, my son or my daughter—and I’d be a fool to declare whom I think holds the title. No, I’m worried about my daughter’s ability to promote her accomplishments, particularly later in life when it really matters.

I also worry about my customers.

In the job search it’s all about marketing yourself—on your résumé and in your cover letter, while you’re networking, on the phone, and at the interview. It’s all about accomplishments and it’s all about using them in context. The written and verbal communications skills have to be in place—one is not exclusive of the other.

Recently a customer related a story at one of my Personal Commercial workshops about how she had mobilized nearly a whole city to promote the arrival of a professional wrestler. She had no budget with which to work, yet she was able to barter with a marble sign company to create a welcome sign for Cold Stone Austin; and she persuaded the city to rename a street for “Cold Stone.”

The event, as she described it, was a smashing success. Her enthusiasm in describing the event was similar to how my son talks about his basketball prowess; not how my daughter reluctantly talks about her soccer game.

My customer succeeded on the verbal front but not in her written campaign. Following the workshop, she asked me to review her revised résumé. I expected to read about her coordination, management, persuasion, creativity, and a whole slew of other skills that made the Steve Austin event an outstanding accomplishment.

While the story she told at my workshop was captivating and her enthusiasm was contagious, her résumé didn’t hint to any of her strong skills. She was unable to tie her strong verbal and written communications skills into the full package necessary to market herself effectively.

I would tell you about the time my customer had to coordinate the flushing of an entire sports center’s toilets, but that would be too long a story.

Will my daughter be able to promote herself in her written and verbal communications, or will she wait for someone to drag all of her strong accomplishments out of her? Will she express her accomplishments, or fail to express her accomplishments, in the whole package? Perhaps I worry too much.

5 reasons to let your boss know about your accomplishments

Sell YourselfA woman I work with whispered to me that one of her customers wrote her an email complimenting her on a job well done. I congratulated her on her accomplishment and told her to tell our boss.

“No way,” my colleague said. “I don’t need to show her what I’ve done. She knows.”

I argued my case for a brief moment and then realized that convincing my colleague to promote herself was a lost cause. She’s just not that kind of person. She would rather have people see her great work—she does great work—than point it out to them. She doesn’t like to “brag,” in her words.

If you’re like my colleague and don’t feel it’s necessary to promote yourself, consider the following points.

1. The philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” comes to mind in the instance with my colleague. I reason if your manager isn’t around to hear or read of your accomplishments, she won’t hear it; there’ll be no sound. All the good work you’ve done may go unnoticed and unrewarded.

So bring your boss into the forest so she can hear the tree fall. Of course a tree makes a sound when it falls, but the sound doesn’t reach human ears. Only when human ears hear the tree will they believe it made a sound.

2. It’s okay to promote yourself in a tactful way. The wrong way to self-promote would be to announce during a meeting that your customer said you’re the best thing since sliced bread. This will cause your colleagues to turn to each other and mouth, “What a braggart.”

The correct way would be catching your boss alone and making her aware of the flattering email you received, without going into detail ad nauseum. If you are more introverted, simply forwarding the email to your boss would be fine (it also creates a paper trail for future recall.)

3. If you don’t promote yourself no one will. Do you think your colleagues who are eyeing a promotion that is suitable for both of you is going to promote your greatness, instead of his? Hell no. Additionally, he might make it clear that he is the best person for the job by touting his accomplishments any time he can (even when it’s not warranted).

You are the captain of your ship, so don’t let anyone else steer it. By no means am I saying to look for opportunities to self-promote. No, promote yourself when the time warrants it.

4. Your chances of advancing at work will be greater if you promote yourself. My colleague believes her results speak louder than words, and this may be true; but the spoken word can better reinforce her results than if she were to say nothing…or not send an email.

Advancement comes to those whose performance are recognized. You may be equally strong, or stronger, than one of your colleagues; but if your colleague tactfully promotes himself, he will probably get the nod when it comes time for advancement at work.

5. You will feel good. Especially if you receive positive feedback from your superior. I know this because when I promote myself, via email mostly, I receive an email from her congratulating me for my success. I could care less if she is annoyed by my self-promotion.

If my boss tells me to stop, I’ll cease my self-promotion. But I’ve never been told to stop sending her emails or telling her about my success, nor do I expect her to cease my self-promotion. If or when I do, I’ll simply tell her, “I’m practicing what I preach.

You may feel the same way my colleague does about self-promotion. You may be a person who believes self-promotion is bragging. Read this article from Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution: Success without Self-Promotion.

But ask yourself this: will I kick myself for not at least forwarding an email to my boss? Is it possible that she would appreciate knowing about my accomplishment? If the answer to these questions is yes, promote yourself in a way you’re comfortable with.

Flickr: Phoenix Tso

Small talk and 5 other traits introverts must improve upon

breakroomWhen my colleagues are chatting away during lunch, I like to join their conversation which is usually about current affairs, television shows, or other topics extraverts seem to enjoy and master with ease.

I do my best to break into their banter, picking the right opportunity to voice my views. But at times choosing my words seems like work. I’m not unusual in this way–finding making small talk difficult–other introverts have expressed the same frustration.

Being comfortable making small talk is one trait I admire in extraverts. Other extravert traits I admire are:

Ability to promote themselves. Extraverts have the gift of gab, and we all know that verbal communications is more direct and timely than written communications. While I feel comfortable sending an e-mail to my manager about my accomplishments, extraverts would go directly to her office and talk about their accomplishments. This confidence they display I erroneously misconstrue for conceit.

Solution. Before approaching the manager to speak of their accomplishments, introverts should formulate what they’re going to say. It may be helpful to write down some talking points on their accomplishments before approaching the manager. They should also remember to smile.

Ease of networking. Most extraverts will tell you they have no problem entering a room full of people and striking up a conversation. Most introverts will tell you this takes effort and is often uncomfortable, and some introverts will tell you they fear networking, both for professional and job-search purposes. Therefore they don’t network and miss out on valuable opportunities.

Solution. Introverts should not network like extraverts. I tell my jobseekers that introverts can network; they just do it differently. Instead of working the room, they feel more comfortable in smaller groups and engaging in deeper conversation.

Boundless energy. Presenting in front of a group doesn’t scare me. By most accounts I’m quite good at it. However, after conducting three workshops a day, my brain feels like mash potatoes. Extraverts, on the other hand, can talk till the sun goes down. Where extraverts may run into problems is not taking time to ask questions and listen to their attendees. Introverts are said to be better listeners. Still, it’s nice to have the endurance to talk with people for eternity.

Solution. Introverts should take advantage of downtime to recharge their battery. I retreat to my cubicle where I can rest my mind and reflect on the next workshop to come. When colleagues approach me during my down time, I tell them I’m busy with important work…even if I’m not. Introverts must take any opportunity they have to re-charge their batteries so they can be ready to jump back into action.

Conflict management. Well-known psychologist and author, Marti Olsen LaneyPsy.D, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, asserts that introverts are not as strong at conflict resolution as extraverts are. She writes that introverts avoid conflict as much as possible, and I see her point.

Solution. In order to be good at conflict management, introverts must choose their battles and formulate their thoughts before jumping into the foray. When an answer to an accusation is called for, introverts should ask for time to think about their response. I feel this way when I’m asked to defend my actions.

Participating at meetings. I tell my MBTI workshop attendees that introverts have wonderful ideas but often let those ideas go unheard because they fail to speak up at meetings. The extraverts dominate the discussion because they feel uncomfortable when there is silence. Silence is not a problem for introverts.

Solutions. Arrive with talking points or write them as you’re listening to the other members of the group. When your ideas warrant being introduced, don’t wait passively for your turn; speak out regardless of etiquette. I feel strongly about being forceful, as evident by the time I jumped in front of one of my extraverted colleagues in order to express my thoughts. He took offense, but he’d already had his 500-word limit.

My admiration for extraverts makes me think about how I can improve on the aforementioned strengths they possess. I’ve witnessed them in my extraverted colleagues and friends; as I’ve also witnessed introverts weaknesses. With some practice, introverts can improve upon their weaknesses, and extraverts can tone it down.

3 ways introverts need to promote themselves in the job search

I’m cleaning the house, going room to room, and come across a test sheet attached to the refrigerator with a magnet that says Welcome to Massachusetts. The test is one of my daughter’s and it says in large red ink, “100%!” Upon close inspection, I notice the test was taken in September of last year. I throw away the test.

I go to the living room and start watching the Celtics/Heat game and suddenly jump out of the seat. I stride to the trash. There I retrieve my daughter’s test sheet and put it back on the refrigerator.

I don’t do this because the test covers a stain on our refrigerator—I do this for a different reason. When my daughter attached her test to the fridge, she did it because she wanted to promote her achievement. I want her to know that self-promotion is acceptable.

My colleague, Wendy Gelberg, is a champion of introverts. I believe she would call my daughter’s act of tacking her test on the refrigerator a healthy way for a teenager to promote herself to her parents; and in fact we were very pleased when we first saw her grade…almost eight months ago.

Introverts who have a hard time promoting themselves must learn how to do it correctly. Especially when it comes to jobseekers who are trying to make a great impression in the job search. In her article, Alternatives to Self-Promotion, Wendy suggests three ways for introverts to promote themselves without looking boastful:

  1. Let others speak for you
  2. Bring a portfolio
  3. Report the facts.

Of the three ways mentioned in Wendy’s article, my daughter illustrates “bring a portfolio.” She is providing a visual aid for us when she attached it to the refrigerator. She can tell us every time she does well, but she feels that showing proof of her success would deliver the message more effectively.

“We all know that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words–and sometimes having some visual aids can help you promote yourself,” Wendy states.

The portfolio jobseekers show potential employers acts as a picture. Wendy gives “work samples, news articles, certificates/licenses, letters of praise, or other documents” as examples of bringing a portfolio. Bringing a  portfolio to the interview also helps introverts get over the fear of “boasting,” as it confirms to introverts of their accomplishments; it is concrete. Furthermore, employers are convinced of said accomplishments.

The third way to promote yourself in the job search, Report the Facts, is also imperative to doing well at the interview. This means you must back up what you claim. Wendy suggests answering question with the Problem-Action-Result (PAR) formula, and I agree. The PARs explain the skills you’ve demonstrated in the past and also uncover other valuable skills, skills the employers might not ask for but will be happy to hear.

The Celtics are down by nine points, the bathroom still needs to be cleaned, and I have to make dinner; but I’m feeling a sense of pride for what my daughter has accomplished, even if it was eight months ago. More to the point, I’m proud of her for realizing that self-promotion is necessary, even if it’s only for her parents. Self-promotion will be more important in her future job search. This is something I’m going to tell her when I have the chance, even though she’s only 16 years-old.

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