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Self-promotion: Talking about your accomplishments without boasting

Jenna Charlton|

If you’ve never held a sales or marketing position, or have never been put in a situation where you’ve been forced to sell a product, you may find the delicate art of self-promotion pain-staking. Personally, I have always found it easier to list the reasons I think someone should buy a gadget than to brag about why someone should hire me.

For some, bragging just comes naturally. They seem to have been born gloating and basking in their own successes. You know the type, right? – A boss, co-worker, or acquaintance who can discuss their accomplishments ad nauseam. Those people can be annoying, and brilliant at putting you to sleep. There’s a fine line between recognizing what you can offer and discussing your accomplishments versus simply boring people.

A potential employer is interested in what you’ve done, and needs to know the skills you’ll bring to your next job, but doesn’t necessarily want to hear in detail how great you think you are – all the time. It’s a delicate balance, and it’s an important one to master when networking, interviewing, and writing your resume.

A recent article on Forbes.com discusses tips to help you recognize your accomplishments and let people know what you’ve done, while still keeping your friends.

One suggestion is to create a bragalogue, a sort of personal sales pitch. The bragalogue is meant to “incorporate a few bits of information about who you are and what you’ve done. [You can] use it as an introduction when [meeting] people for the first time.” The idea comes from Peggy Klaus the author of the book Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, who states, “If you were asked to describe someone you care about, you could wax poetic.” So, “why can’t you do the same thing for yourself?”

The article wasn’t the first time I’d heard of the technique, although it is the first time I’ve heard it called a ‘bragalogue’. Friends of mine have been told to write bios, or a pitch from which they can draw when networking, or send to potential employers before an actual job becomes available. The technique is also a great way to get you thinking about what you’ve accomplished both personally and professionally.

Here are some other tips that may help you get your brag on:

1. Resume re-writes:

When writing your resume think of your employment history in terms of responsibilities and accomplishments. Your job title suggests your responsibilities. Highlight a list of things you’ve accomplished under each set of responsibilities. If this isn’t how your resume already reads, give it try. You may like how it changes your personal brand.

2. Go for interviews:

I have a friend who tries to interview every six months. He does this for a few reasons: 1. He might come across an amazing opportunity he wouldn’t have otherwise; 2. It keeps him thinking about what he’s accomplished in the last six months; 3. He has to vocalize how he perceives the work he does, and how to improve his ‘personal’ pitch.

3. Write down your accomplishments:

The Forbes.com article also suggests creating a word document and writing down your accomplishments. Include “what you did and why it was important.” Also “show how that achievement helped your company, [and] include positive comments that other people have made about your work.”

So for those of you not born to be self-promoters, take heart. It may not be as difficult or cringe worthy as you think. In fact it may be just the boost you need. Stop bragging about humility and start discussing all the great things you’ve done – gently, of course.


Category: Job Search Strategies,