The Art of Self-Promotion

March 2, 2010

Everyone is repulsed by braggarts – people who are shameless self promoters.

The truth is that (thankfully) these people rarely exist in the job search and career transition arena, as I can’t remember the last time I spoke with a candidate whom I felt was arrogant. Sure, people say off-color things when the stakes are high in an interview. But this doesn’t mean they are bragging. Typically, they are nervous and get caught in an awkward moment.

Here’s the formula for broadcasting your skills without being viewed as bragging. Write down and rehearse the 4-5 points that distinguish you from your peers. In other words, what home-runs have you delivered that demonstrate why you are such a strong candidate for a job. Know your messages cold so that in the heat of the moment, they are ready to be launched without a moment of consideration.

Don’t be afraid to speak matter-of-factly about your specific achievements. For example:

  • Exceeded management’s expectations by deploying a restructuring initiative that achieved…
  • Helped position my previous employer to be more market competitive and provide value-added service to its clients by…
  • Received multiple awards for generating year-over-year improvements to…
  • Worked with world-class experts in “x’, which provided me with a unique perspective to…

Be proud of who you are and what you have done and deliver your accomplishments in a direct, professional and measured way. Every action creates a reaction, and your role in selling yourself is to activate job opportunities, promotions or advancements. You’ll know if you did this well when a faint smile appears on the listeners face or you sense some other visceral reaction that captures their interest.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.

Sum Gain Interviewing

December 8, 2009

I recently interviewed a promising candidate who had the goods: a pedigree education, an impressive track record in sales and an articulate and engaging manner.  What broke down was his hubris.  When asked about his professional and interpersonal challenges, he flatly said that he was at a loss to think of one.  Well, I have yet to find the “perfect” person and I’m sure he wasn’t one.  I then took a very direct approach and informed him that his attitude would not fly with hiring managers.

Many candidates have exceptional abilities and strengths.  But, when hiring managers are looking for a true self-assessment from you, they want honest and forthright answers.  Anything less won’t be believed.

Imagine you’re baking a cake and you inadvertently add a pinch of salt to a large batter of ingredients.  It will hardly be detectable and the end product will be no worse off.  Even if the salt slightly altered the taste, the good flavors would overshadow the bad.

Similarly, the sum gain strategy works in interviewing.  It’s acceptable to describe your challenges or weaknesses.  But just don’t leave it there.  Complete your thought with a description of your strengths that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.  People generally remember the last thing you say.  Thus, whatever weakness you have should ultimately pale in comparison to what you really bring to the table.

So this candidate could have said, “Well, I’m challenged with getting my sales reports in on time, but I’m especially adept at developing relationships that go far beyond the value of the transactions.”

Being refreshingly clean and crisp about both your strengths and challenges will always work to your advantage.

Read more tips and strategies on Interviewing on the Get What You Set web site.

Are You a Sub-Prime Candidate?

October 27, 2009

Just as investors view sub-prime loans as toxic financial waste, hiring managers may feel the same about your resume and the way that you interview. How could this be?housing_slump

We received a resume from a candidate with 30 years experience in the equipment leasing sector. She worked as a program manager and sales person for the industry’s leaders. She was downsized in an industry that is shrinking by the minute, leaving precious few job openings. Knowing that she will have to look to another industry for job opportunities, this is what her resume stated:

Business Objective: To obtain a sales position which will allow me to utilize my experience and skills to contribute to the success of my business group and company.


She then dryly listed her functions and said nothing about her tangible and believable accomplishments. C’mon, you’ve been gainfully employed for 30 years and have nothing to brag about?

What’s even worse is that she lost a golden opportunity to tell the reader how her skills and experience transfer to another field. When we asked her to verbalize her “transferable skills”, she was at a loss for words. Do you think she’d be any better in an interview?

She could communicate the relevance of her skills by saying that she:

* Has the expertise to remove the issue of affordability out of the sales cycle by introducing a digestible payment option called leasing.

* Is a master at finding solutions that link buyers to sellers.

* Has enabled various companies across vast industries to replace no’s with yes’s, as she’s been the virtual “glue” that has facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars of commerce to flourish

By spelling out what she’s accomplished and how it is relevant for another industry, she’ll be better positioned to find a role that “transfers” her skills. The trick is articulating your professional value. Otherwise she’ll continue to be merely sub-prime and not “hiring” worthy.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.

I’m “Pretty Good” Doesn’t Cut It

September 22, 2009

Pretty GoodStop saying that you’re “pretty good” at something. Pretty good is approximate, tentative, and ambiguous. If a hiring manager is looking to employ you, spend serious cash on your salary, put their reputation on the line, entrust you with a budget, people, assets, systems and/or clients, then they need to have absolute clarity on your skills. Just as one can’t be pretty pregnant (because it’s impossible), one can’t be pretty good. Good needs to be more accurately defined.

So how do you blow your horn without being perceived as an arrogant braggart? It’s really simple. Start your sentence with something like: “I have been recognized for my analytical skills, having effectively exposed valuable information buried in mounds of data…”

You’re using others’ words, which is a culturally acceptable way to display your well deserved accomplishments. By singing your song in a tune that will resonate, the melody of your message will remain long after your interview ends.

Read more tips and strategies on Interviewing on the Get What You Set web site.