If you are like most, you probably find it uncomfortable talking about yourself and any achievements that have occurred. The reality is that a very important career skill that a person can have is the ability to self-promote themselves while not appearing to brag.
This last statement probably has its detractors, as people have been told to let their work do the talking and that if you do good things, people will notice. This may be true to some degree. Certainly, if you have your Manager (or someone you work closely with) advocate for you, then you’re likely to have an advantage. Today’s labor market, however (both internally and externally) generally demands a wider network than just your last Manager. So, the wider your net of influence with others who are aware and can speak clearly to your success, the better it will be for your career.
Like most successful communication, there is a degree of savviness required to do it well, both in how and when it is presented. Let’s now take a look at how you can promote your career to others, both internally and externally.
• Become Comfortable Talking About Your Work: It really all starts and is built off of this concept. You have to get over any hesitation that you have talking about yourself. It is also important to know when to separate the “we” from the “I” when discussing completed projects and your role. Don’t take credit for something that you did not accomplish, but don’t be afraid to use the “I” word if you were the person that was able to get something done. A person also needs to be careful that they don’t allow self-depreciation items (such as “luck”) creep into their conversation. While being self-depreciating may make you feel better about the self-promotion, it will likely serve to erode the message you are sending.
• Place Yourself In a Promotional Position: One of the challenges for high achievers is that they are often very busy “achieving”. This provides them little time to network either within or outside of the organization that they work for. It is important that you take the time to network in order to build relationships that may assist you, while also providing you a forum to inform them of your accomplishments. Internally your self-promotion will seem much more natural in the context of a lunch or a happy hour discussion, than if you just show up in someone’s office or cubicle. There are a number of ways externally you can place yourself in a position to promote. Social Media posts that highlight key achievements you have been involved with, will help keep your connections aware. Be prepared to attend conferences and other networking type events where you can not only build your inner circle, but also update those that you already know.
• Don’t Assume The Boss Knows: We would like to think that our Manager knows and appreciates all the great work that we are doing. The reality is that many bosses have enough trouble trying to get their own work done, and often do not reflect on their staff’s accomplishments until it is review time. So, it is imperative for you to “manage up” and gently make your Manager aware of what you are working on and what you have successfully finished. You can do this during the course of any one on one Touch Base you may have scheduled, or just savvily work it into your everyday conversations with them.
• Align Yourself With Department and Company Priorities: Your accomplishments will attract a much more receptive audience if what you have accomplished can be tied to company success and initiatives. Of course, this will require pre-work on your part to make sure that what you are focused on and working towards the goals that fit with that criteria.
• It is OK to Brag (a little)…Just Don’t Be a Braggart: It is near impossible to promote yourself without bragging a little bit. It is important, however, that when you are in these conversations where you are sending promotional messages, that you are doing more than just selling yourself. Allow the other person (at minimum) equal time to speak and practice active listening to make for a better conversation. When you are speaking, make sure that what you are sharing is more than just your business accomplishments.
It is always nice to be recognized by someone else for the good work that we are accomplishing. There is also much value in helping yourself get noticed by communicating your success in a professional manner. It will help you internally build advocates for your candidacy when a coveted internal position comes available. While externally, you will build your network of resources and referrals to tap if/when you decide to leave your current employer.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein