One of the toughest parts of job transition is self-promotion. I wish I had a dollar for every candidate who told me it was difficult for them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. Slowly but surely, I take these job seekers out of hiding and help them uncover, recognize, and share the value they bring to their jobs. To get there, we have to overcome two obstacles.
First, the fear of bragging. People believe that if they are not quiet and modest, then they are brashly bragging. I help them see there is a mid-ground. Talking about what you do well is not bragging, it is stating facts. What you do, what you accomplish is not bravado but a truth. Look at your career and pull out the accomplishments and wins over the years. These are facts, evidence if you will, of your value and contribution. Use these facts to let a potential employer know what they can expect if they hire you. If we don’t take the time to tell people what we offer, they will never know. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the future company we want to serve, to share what we bring to the table. Part of the fear of bragging, is the assumption one must put others down to raise themselves up. This is not true. You can state what you do, outside of what anyone else does. Focus on the facts of you, not a comparison to anyone else.
Second, people need help uncovering and recognizing their contributions. It astounds me how many women and men draw a blank when I ask about their accomplishments. They can not even put into words their contributions. Candidates will say they executed their position but can’t go into detail as to what that entailed. In doing so, they are not only minimizing their professional value, but their personal value as well. When I realize the candidate I am talking to is unable to answer even the most basic questions about what they did and how it benefitted their company or customers, I know there is a larger problem at play. This is no longer about self-promotion. The true issue revolves around self-awareness and self-love.
Acknowledging your true strengths and weaknesses, knowing who you are, requires self-awareness. When we take the time to uncover and own who we are, we are pulled out of the shadows. We can no longer hide our faults – or our brilliance. We become a known entity. Yet so many of us are happiest hidden in the background. We react to others, never taking proactive actions of our own. We look to others to create the framework and guidelines for life which we follow like lemmings. In doing so, we are depriving the world what we are here to offer; what only we can offer. It is not selfish to know and speak our truth. It is actually selfish not to.
Without self-awareness, there can be no self-love. Self-love gives us confidence and strength. We can not tap into this power until we acknowledge, embrace, and love who we are – warts and all. And amazing accomplishments and all! It is when we know ourselves, what we do well, what we are meant to contribute, that we are then in a position to guide our lives. If you don’t know and love what you have to offer, you flounder from job to job, relationship to relationship, city to city – or you don’t move at all, sitting in a static state never fully expressing your gifts.
Take some time, starting with your professional gifts, to write out what you do well. Uncover these gifts. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them. Then look at these gifts and see where they point you for the future.