This quote is from a book for men that deals with how to make the best of impressions that was written in 1884. While the wording might be a little old fashioned, the sentiment remains just as true today as it was back then. It's appropriate and even expected for people to dress modestly in the workplace and to behave in a way that doesn't make them appear to be a glory seeker, being humble and modest about who you are and what you've achieved isn't the best way to go. In fact, too much modesty will actually have the reverse effect and cause people to think less of you. If someone is overly humble, they often seem embarassed or even ashamed of themselves.
Personally, I think that the biggest mistake that any of us make when we're looking for a job is being afraid to really market ourselves and our skills. It's as though we are afraid of being a braggart and appearing egotistical. Talking about your accomplishments and tooting your own horn feels unnatural and uncomfortable, however that's only because it's unfamiliar. Most of us don't go around every day bragging about how amazing we are at things. We've been taught to be humble and wait for others to recognize our greatness, but during a job search, if you don't brag about yourself, who will?
If self marketing feels uncomfortable to you, here are a few tips that can make it easier:
Give credit to the team – If you don't like to brag about your accomplishments, you can take the Hollywood approach and mention your achievements while focusing your comments on the team you worked with. For example, “While I was working for XYC company, I was given the opportunity to head up their gizmo department. It was failing, so the company was willing to try almost anything to raise profits. Luckily, I was given a team of about 15 amazingly talented people. It was an incredible experience and together, we not only met the sales and production goals but exceeded them by 45 percent.” By giving credit to the team while still mentioning the fact that you were in charge of 15 employees and that you brought a department on the brink back to profitability allows you to brag as much as you'd like, while still giving the polite appearance of humility.
Be passionate about what you do – When you're passionate about the work you do and eager to work with the new company, it's easier to explain why you're the best qualified person to do it. Passion and enthusiasm are impressive to any hiring manager. For example, “Making sure that everyone who needs an XYZ gadget is something that I'm extremely passionate about. So many people have been wasting so much time and energy doing tasks that this thing can do in minutes. Over the past few years, I've made it my personal mission to put one of these in each and every home. In fact, just last year, my team increased product penetration by 45%. Now, I want to take the next step and work with your company to take things to the next level.”
Explain your purpose – Sometimes you show why you're qualified by explaining your past experience. For example, “It's always been my dream to work with your company. In fact, I've been working toward this goal for my entire career. First, I started out as a sales associate. I worked long hours and help take the small company I worked for to the next level. Then, when I was given a management position, I took on 15 talented people and together, we accomplished....”
There a so many ways that you can approach shameless self-promotion. It's won't be easy at first, but if you aren't comfortable bragging about yourself, it will show in your manner and voice, making you sound insincere. Instead, find the approach that feels right to you and practice your pitch until it's second nature.
Image source: The Mentor: A Little Book for the Guidance of Such Men and Boys as Would Appear to Advantage in the Society of Persons of The Better Sort.