Dear Matt: I struggle with self-promotion because I don’t like talking about myself. I feel like I’m bragging and have a hard time conveying my successes when writing a résumé, in interviews and during performance reviews. How can I overcome this?
Matt says: When done properly, self-promotion is not bragging, it’s informing, says Rick Gillis, author of “Promote! It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career” and a nationally recognized employment coach specializing in job search trends and technologies (rickgillis.com).
If you don’t keep track of your successes and achievements and convey that information when writing a résumé, in an interview, or in a performance review, who will? Your success depends on your ability to promote yourself correctly — yet many people can’t do it, says Gillis.
“In today’s intensely competitive, hyper-social work world, self-promotion is no longer just a professional responsibility, it’s a career survival skill,” he says.
Here are some ways to promote yourself the right way, according to Gillis:
1. Don’t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do. Whether you work six feet or 6,000 miles away, it’s unlikely your boss has more than a general idea about what you do beyond the minimum expected; he or she probably has countless other responsibilities and is increasingly stretched too thin, so it’s up to you to actively promote yourself.
2. Adopt an accomplishment mind-set and narrative. In any workplace, you’re seen first as a commodity, not as a person. That’s why you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments — the things that express your commercial value to the business. Be able to list those things anytime, anywhere, to anyone, whether in your résumé, in an interview, during a performance review — or even a casual conversation with a colleague.
3. Quantify your worth. You were hired because someone believed that you would produce more value for the company than you would cost. Gillis once worked with a payroll clerk who, in the first run he ever did, cut 6,000 paychecks alone, on time, with zero returns. Think of the cost savings created by an error-free check run of that size.
4. Master the three-part accomplishment statement with a distinct beginning, middle and end. Convey what you did, what that resulted in and the value or net result. This is especially effective on a résumé. For example: “Created a digital filing system that resulted in 300 man hours saved per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually.”
“Employers must know your real value,” says Gillis, “otherwise you’ll find yourself on the losing end professionally. You won’t get the job, the raise, the promotion, the respect and recognition you deserve.”
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