TED Conversations

Lee Wilkinson


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Why do we sell ourselves so badly?

I have just finished being part of a team of interviewers for a major corporation and the main thing I noticed was that people in general do a poor job of selling themselves even when give the opportunity and encouragement to do so. It seems like a built in system that stops us from being our own best promoter and we default to putting on the brakes. Why is this? Are we hard wired to default to self destruction instead of self promotion?


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    Jan 23 2012: @ Linda..........

    You say you will not sell yourself. It appears (just specualting) that your internal definition of "Selling Yourself" implies someone can afford you, you're merely a consumeable. If so, I empathise with why you feel the way you do, no one wants to be thought of in this definition,It implies they have no inherent usefullness other than their labor.

    I think the original context presented by Lee is - ''Selling yourself": presenting what qualities you have in a persuausive manner to show you are competent.

    If you were to honestly say that you've never sold yourself, then it would be contradictory to admit you've written a resume. Because by sending a resume you are selling/showing/presenting your abilities.

    Place yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, he/she does not know you. At that point, they only know what you have written about yourself. Hence its not unreasonable for them to ask you to affirm your skills to gauge if what they've read is in fact consistent with what you say and whether your behaviour is consistent with it as well. It's merely another Bullshit meter to pass.

    It would be horrible to think that you may have walked out on a potentially rewarding employer because of an oversight of their intention.
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      Jan 23 2012: Seems I need to work on clarity. I will not sell myself because I learned the hard way after selling myself. I will not work for a company that says 'we have 20 other applicants, why should we hire you?' I will say you shouldn't. Thank you for your time.

      A company that asks that question values competition. I have worked for those companies. I learned there is a serious disconnect with the company values and my own values. I work really really hard at what I do and competition is a distraction and for me, a serious waste of energy. I am not saying that competition is wrong or should not exist or assign any type of morality to it. I just will not sell myself because I learned from bad experience not to. I have walked out on potential employers. I am not misinterpreting their intention. I know what that question means. I can smell the bullshit and I refuse to walk in it.
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        Jan 23 2012: I don't know that I agree with this as a blanket statement. I started another thread around the idea of the next evolution of the resume -- because they really don't tell me about the person behind the work, and they don't give me a good sense of who would be a good fit in our culture (which might indeed be aggressive but actually not competitive strictly).

        I would rather whittle a pile of resumes down to 20 or so interviewees that all would fit the culture and then choose from those. Wouldn't you prefer not to have sat through the interview with that corporate culture as well?

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