Some people have a natural ability to promote themselves, but for me this is typically an uncomfortable experience. This can make it tough when trying to land a new job, ask for a promotion or raise, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I have no hang-ups bragging about others and I don’t think I lack confidence in myself. Yet, when I am in front of a hiring manager and need to really talk myself up to land the job or trying to convince my boss that I really do deserve that promotion or raise, I hit a wall.
I feel this ability is essential to your personal brand. It’s basically the promotion side of your personal “4 P’s” when marketing yourself. So, why is it so hard to do? I think it may be due to my upbringing. My family has always prided themselves on letting their work speak for itself and I have to say my family is some of the hardest working talented people I know (see I can brag about others). I was always taught to work hard and have a good attitude and your work will be noticed and that being a “braggart” is being rude.
I think that this view was overdeveloped to me and I started to equate all self-promotion as bragging and a negative thing. So, in a professional career each performance review became an uncomfortable experience where I just accepted what was handed to me even if I thought I was being low-balled or my hard work wasn’t being recognized. Likewise, during interviews, I rely too much on my resume speaking for itself hoping that the interviewer will see my accomplishments and be impressed. I know now that that this is not only unfair to the interviewer, but also seriously underselling me. Not only is it impossible for the interviewer to get to know the real me and my abilities from a piece of paper, but it comes across as a lack of confidence in myself.
So now I am working on my ability to talk up my accomplishments and abilities without sounding too arrogant. This can be a tricky balance and one that if you are not used to, can make it tough to know how to balance it. What I am going to try to do now is ask for feedback from my network of friends and ex-coworkers. These are people I know who will provide constructive criticism and not just say things to be nice. I have been refining my personal pitch and plan to run it by them, both in print and verbally and ask for their honest assessment on how it comes across.
For me this is a start towards market testing the promotion side of my personal brand and gets me past my hang-up around talking myself up. Is this something you also struggle with? If so, how have you learned to overcome it? If not, how do you promote yourself?
On a lighter, related note if you want something funny to follow on twitter, check out @Humblebrag, its good for a chuckle.