Whether you’re trying to land a new job, setting your sights on a promotion or trying to avoid an upcoming layoff, selling yourself is critical to accomplishing your goal. Some people, however, really struggle with selling themselves. They view it as a form of bragging, showing off, or being overly pushy. And it can be, if it’s done in the wrong way. The trick in selling yourself is to communicate your accomplishments, skills and aspirations without being too self-promotional or egocentric. It’s also important to be fearless about painting yourself in a positive light, such as when you need to fight for your job. If layoff rumors are flying, don’t be afraid to schedule a short meeting with your boss to talk about, emphasize, and expand upon what you’ve overcome, accomplished and learned. Leverage that information as a springboard for a discussion about your future goals and how those relate to the organization’s. However, if your job is secure yet you’re interviewing for a promotion or different position, you’ll also need to know how to sell yourself to that decision-maker. That’s where being able to quickly relate your accomplishments to each interview question comes in handy. Fortunately, with practice, you can usually learn to master this skill and become proficient in selling yourself with confidence.
Document what’s great about you. Selling yourself begins with looking back at your past and studying your present to get clear insights around your key successes, achievements, strengths and talents. Imagine you’re working on your resumé—what would you list under the “key achievements,” “skills,” and “experience” sections? Don’t be surprised if this list grows bigger than you ever realized it could…once you start thinking about your highlights in life and are totally honest about what’s great about you, there will be way more than just a few bullet points on that page.
Write your story. Have fun with this! Take that what’s great about you list and write a no-pressure bio. It doesn’t have to be publishable or formal, but do make it as interesting as you can. You’ve got all these facts on a sheet of paper, so use them. Perhaps pretend that you’re writing about your best friend, emphasizing what’s incredibly unique and fabulous about who he/she is, what he/she has done, and just how impressive he/she is because of certain accomplishments, skills and natural gifts. Give your story a beginning, middle and end—or build in some sort of timeline—that shows how successes were tied to learning or key periods of opportunity, growth and even self-initiative. Read through it and note what you think need to be minimized or emphasized, or how that might need to change depending on what type of job or possibility is on your plate.
Practice, practice, practice! Sell you and your story, and be able to relate it with seamless ease. Get used to talking about yourself by practicing alone first, then perhaps with a trusted mentor or business coach. Have your helper ask you possible interview questions to see how well you can tweak your answers yet still work in what’s going to impact your audience and sell them on your greatness. And, yes, you are great. So, start believing that, too, because without faith in yourself to deliver your pitch and promote yourself with ease, your credibility will come into doubt. Don’t give it self-doubt a chance to undermine your potential, always remembering that practice makes perfect. Do it whenever you get the chance, and you will consistently shine through like a star!
What are some clues that your personal pitch is too self-promotional?