Lee Wilkinson

This conversation is closed.

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?

  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: The reality is that most people are uncomfortable selling themselves because they do not know what makes them special/different/unique. Most people are applying for a job because they want a paycheck - not because they think that they are a superb fit or it is their dream job. They are applying because the rent is due next month.

    I think that one of the best things that we can do for young folks is help them identify their skills, talents, strengths, and capabilities. This knowledge will help people make more informed career decisions. And when it comes to 'selling themselves' for a position - they'll be able to connect with their spirit and do a better job articulating why they are the best person for the job.
  • thumb
    Feb 3 2012: First of all, I think it's quite hard to know yourself.

    Then, the corporate world has its biases too in the recruitment process:
    - few companies have a strong culture, mission and value to which potential candidates can immediately relate to and say "this is me, right here". When they apply for a job, there are a lot of question marks.
    - the recruitment process is perhaps the key element of a successful company, but is underfunded. By that I mean that job interviews are not enough to identify or reveal the true potential of a candidate. Even though HR specialists are probably better"readers" than other people, isn't it a bit pretentious to claim that you know if a person is right for the job by interviewing him/her 5 hours top..???
    - academic profile: a person's potential is larger than academic credentials. But few companies have a broader vision when it comes to recruiting. Top academic achievers usually get first. While they may be an asset to the company is not the debate here, but motivation for the job is not always linked to academic achievement.

    So, back to my first point, candidates should focus first on themselves: knowing their strengths and adopt a "sniper" approach (send 10 CV's) instead of a "shotgun" approach (send 100 CV's). Then companies should invest more into recruitment (like for eg with role plays, in house seminars).
  • thumb
    Jan 24 2012: I believe your answer is: Lack of self confidence. I think we are wired to dominate or submit. When faced with an authority figure that has the power to disappoint or humiliate, a person may feel unprepared. In many cases I'm sure they simply aren't prepared! Alternatively, some people are socially awkward and may not realize they don't fit into a job that requires enthusiastic social skills. Perhaps even they know they do not fit in yet are compelled to try for experience or the chance they will be needed.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Jan 25 2012: I don't understand where your sarcasm is coming from. What situations do I need a better understanding of?
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: While I am inspired by the passion within the responses from all of you I think the pedantic manor in which we are approaching the idea of 'Selling' The word was used of course to describe the way in which we represent ourselves when promoting our qualifications in order to secure something we want in life. Now we can argue this fact all we like but we do it all day every day in many different ways. The issue I have found however is that for many, when faced with an opportunity that we have created for ourselves we then fail at the most basic level to communicate our strengths and personality. What is so terrible about allowing ourselves that moment when we step up t the plate and shine through? After all. isn't that the idea of an interview? Otherwise why did we ask for the interview in the first place? The other issue is that so much of securing a position we want and are qualified for it the team dynamic. People are interviewing as much to see if they want to work with us for the dynamic sake as much as for the qualifications we hold.
    • thumb
      Jan 24 2012: Lee, thanks for your clarification. I think that the word 'selling' is really getting people's attention. Selling has such a negative connotation in many cultures.

      I used to be one of those people who refused to 'sell' myself. I believe that my work should speak for itself. Then I realized that I was being passed over for promotions and choice opportunities even though I was doing as much work or more work than many of my co-workers. The problem - people didn't know about it because I wasn't 'selling myself' and telling people exactly what I was doing.

      I never made that mistake again. I took time to assess what my skills were and look for work that was a strong fit for those skills. Because of this, I can sell myself from the heart - not some cheesy need to convince someone I am something that I'm not. Now I sell the hell out of myself at every opportunity. I keep blogs and samples that can SHOW my work. My LinkedIn profile is clean and looking right. I never miss an opportunity to tell people who I am and what I can do.

      I realize that we all 'sell' ourselves every day. Every interaction, personal or professional leaves an impression and to get the most opportunities people want to make certain that those impressions are favorable.

      There is nothing wrong with selling yourself - whether we like it or not we do it every day.
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: Hi Lee,
    I don't believe it is "hard wired" in us. I DO believe, however that it may be programming we have accepted for many years? There are philosophical/religious beliefs which teach that to suffer on this earth will assure us a better afterlife....that suffering is noble...happiness unattainable, and we're "selfish" if we say we are happy/content/confident. It seems to be popular to believe we don't have "enough".....not enough time...not enough money...not enough friends...activities...etc. etc. etc. We (humans) often think badly of ourselves. How can we expect others to treat us differently than we treat ourselves? People have often lost confidence in themselves, and if we don't have confidence, how can we expect to promote ourselves? If we don't trust and believe in ourselves, who else is going to trust and believe in us? Often, when a person exhibits self-confidence, he/she/they/me are accused of not being honest because self-confidence, trust, honesty in our self seems to be unusual in our world. We need to support and encourage in each other, the qualities we would like to see in ourselves. It's very difficult to promote something or someone we don't really believe in.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jan 23 2012: I agree Richard...we CAN do better:>)
    • thumb
      Jan 25 2012: I think you have taken the interpretation too literally Richard, I realise that we all perceive things differently but however we look at it we sell our selves every day we must of course chose a dialogue that suits our sense of right. Can we do better? Of course that's why I started this thread, My hope for everyone is to have the best life they possibly can however that may take some salesmanship in order to get some of that life.
    • thumb
      Jan 25 2012: Another point Richard (Incidentally I think you have a very good point) but you are selling yourself right now in that you have taken the time to express your opinion. My assumption is that you have participated actively in this discussion in order to be heard (and rightly so) call it what yo will but you are selling us on the idea that we should read your point of view.
  • thumb
    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.
    • thumb
      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.
      • thumb
        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?
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: i know what you mean. most people when questioned about their talents seem to crumble and quit trying. its hard to find people who KNOW they will be the best at whatever position they achieve in a company. i dont think it's hardwired into us, i think it has more to do with how we are raised, how supporive and encouraging our parents were. most people today seem AFRAID of failure, afraid to make mistakes we all cease to live and thrive and prosper when we strive soley to avoid pain without the temptation of pleasure and status. and so while the good remain stagnant the GREAT and the arrogant dominate!
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: Lee, it seems to me this is the same underlying issue as what causes people to believe that as long as they sit quietly and do their job well, someone will notice them and reward them. And then they get angry at the coworkers they believe to be kissing the asses of the superiors.

    The reality is that the bosses are busy doing their own work and aren't always going to notice what Quiet Guy in Cubicle B is doing as long as things are running relatively smoothly. People need to take the initiative and be visible in today's work environment.

    Perhaps the work world is precisely the opposite of what the education system produces/rewards: grade school teachers want low maintenance quasi-zombies who will passively and absorb and regurgitate what they are being fed, whereas good employers want someone who contributes.
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: I am a professional. I come with a specific set of skills and experiences. If you are interested in what I can bring to the corporation, we can negotiate.
    I WILL NOT sell myself. I am not THAT kind of professional.
    • thumb
      Jan 23 2012: Working as an employee for a corporation is exactly that, selling yourself during the working shifts. In order for your skills to be applied in a corporation, it requires your body to be present during the working schedule, therefore, you really end up, selling yourself.
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: Not happening. You have a completely different view of the world than I do. In my world I have all power. The ability to work, create, do is all within my control. I might apply some of that work to an employer in return for compensation for a product. But the SECOND that is abused or leveraged against my will, I can pull away that power and leave. And I will. The product of my work is compensated for. I never sell myself.
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: Well, if you can't articulate what those skills are and what value you bring to a company, you wont last long.

          EDIT - can't or WON'T
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: Explain to me how you detach this set of skills from yourself, put it to work, leave the place and come back recover your skills later and i will agree with you that you are not selling yourself but only your set of skills.

          If you can't detach this set of skills that you have, from yourself, during the time you work, that means, your full self is there working at the financial benefit of somebody else (your boss, or the boss of your boss, or the 100 owners of the multinational you're working for).

          By selling yourself, you're not specifically forced to please your boss physically, you simply need to be physically present, with your set of skills, ready to work for the boss, doing what he tells you to do, that's it.
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: Gisela
        Articulating skills can be done on CV or resume. I can clarify in an interview. But do not ask me to tell you why you should hire me. At that point I mentally walk out because I will not work for a company that expects me to do that. At that point, I stand up and say thank you for your time.
        Understand that these boundaries I have developed have been because I have worked for companies like that. Their values conflict with mine. After having made a mistake or two, I know better now.
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: What precisely do you think an interview is, if not selling yourself?
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: Clarification and assessment of fit. I as the interviewee am also seriously assessing the facility. I take it seriously because I do not want the company to invest in me or me to invest my time if it is not a good fit.
        Seriously. I will not produce a product for just anybody. The company will either facilitate my work or it will become a giant barrier. I am usually pretty good at telling which is which by now.
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: Got news for you, that's selling yourself.

          I'm not really sure what you think is involved in "selling yourself" -- you seem to have it in your head that it's something dirty or something like hooking.

          We went through a period where "sales" was a dirty word, where the culture of sales was "getting past no" and "guerilla sales tactics" and getting people to buy what they neither wanted nor needed, but that doesn't have to be the situation. Sales can be win-win.

          It's become clear, especially in the age of the Internet, that someone who gets something of value rather than suffering from buyer's remorse is a much better customer -- to the point of becoming part of a virtual sales force (making recommendations and referrals).

          Someone who cannot articulate what benefits they are providing a company is not capable of selling themselves - that's all.
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: Maxime
        About detaching skills. Sure that is an easy one. It does not have to be me doing those skills. Somebody else could be doing them. (I also had to laugh about a boss telling me what to do. Nobdy has tried that in a very long time.) And frankly, if you need someone present to do them, you probably need to be talking to somebody else. I won't work.
        As a professional I am typically compensated for a product or service. I am not there to work for the financial benefit of an employer. That may be a by-product of the relationship but not usually why I am there.
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: Let me explain what i mean, my work is to operate heavy machinery, that's my job.

          Every day the foreman tells us what we will have to do, he assigns us to whichever machine he wants, i don't get to decide that, he does, i merely execute his orders and i believe that is what most people do in their respective work.

          Now i don't know, if i would be an "artist" and i would do paintings or drawings or photos, whatever, maybe i would get to decide sometimes what i do, but that would probably not be enough to pay for pretty much anything, especially if i would get to decide what i paint for someone, if it happen not to be what they wanted, they wouldn't buy the product.

          Fortunately for me, i'm not an artist. But in 10 years it will be the exact opposite situation for me, i will be unfortunate to be an obsolete operator, because AI are coming, they are being developed in Europe already. Soon enough the only human beings required on construction sites are going to be the mechanics, and then it won't take long until the mechanics aren't even required anymore, because they'll develop robotized mechanics.

          Eventually this will be also true for artists and all other working area. All this just so that financial profits gets bigger and bigger and bigger for the corporations.
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: Gisela
        No, clarification of skills is not selling yourself. You have a need, I have a set of skills. Either we can negotiate or not.

        I have been asked this questions many times in an interview. "Why should we hire you?"
        Either the interviewer has no idea why I am sitting there or they want me to sell myself. I am trustworthy, flexible, on time yada yada. Like reciting the girl scout pledge. My answer to that question is always "Thank you for your time but I would like to continue to explore my options." Stand up, shake hands and get the heck outta Dodge.
        • thumb
          Jan 23 2012: Well then either
          a) in order to get to that point you've managed to sell yourself in the resume, or
          b) you work in an industry where there aren't a lot of competitors.

          I have 300 resumes for one position. After weeding out the obvious ones, it really comes down to getting the best of the rest. And that's going to require letting me know what in addition to the basic skill set they have going for them.
      • thumb
        Jan 23 2012: @ Maxime
        Thanks for the insight. I understand you are in a business that may need you to brush up your interview skills soon. Let me explain a little about what I do. It won't be exact but close so you can understand. In your line of work what I do would be to create a learning experience for all the workers that would be displaced by the increased use of AI. So my job would be to find out what workers are needed in your area and help you train for a different position. So i would negotiate with your employer to provide this service to the company. As you can see, this would not make any profit for the company. I would negotiate with the company how much it would cost. I would probably be interviewed against several other people who could provide the same service. Probably through some type of bidding process. Hope that helps.
  • thumb
    Feb 3 2012: I'll come clean: I'm approaching 4 years without a real job. Two months ago, I interviewed for a position that was entirely within my expertise. I had worked in the exact same specialty years before and blew the interview by doing exactly as you describe. I sold myself badly.

    Analyzing the problem was effortless. I hated the work before and knew that despite the song and dance I was performing for the potential employer, I would soon come to despise the work again. The job would have been a long commute for about a third of what I was earning previously.

    It sounds pretty silly to attempt such a pretense for something I clearly don't want to do, doesn't it? Why would anybody do such a thing?

    I'll tell you: I'm spoiled. I like to live indoors and can't stomach the smell of garbage dumpsters. I live in a most competitive region and face the worst job market I've experienced ever. I don't know about being hard-wired for self destruction, but am definitely programmed with a terribly deep loathing of self-promotion. Long story that I'm not interested in typing. Suffice it to say that I am among those who find sales, advertising and ultimately the bulk of capitalism to be extremely offensive. Yet I have this awful compulsion to survive, so tomorrow I'll be trying to drive down that disgust and pretending I want to work hard to make some creep five dollars for every dollar I get. Any good tips on pulling off that act?
    • thumb
      Feb 3 2012: ..."so tomorrow I'll be trying to drive down that disgust and pretending I want to work hard to make some creep five dollars for every dollar I get. Any good tips on pulling off that act?"

      Look at it this way: you are getting paid during your non-billable hours and that money has to come from somewhere, as with the costs of overhead, and the gamble that the employer took during the start up phase. You can squirrel away cash to take your own gamble -- er I mean "start your own business" -- or you can have the nice comfy safety of letting someone else do that for you.

      Maybe really contemplate working on your own and how effective you are at sales (your services direct to client after client rather than to an employer), then decide which one you'd rather do.

      (Good luck on your job hunt!)
      • thumb
        Feb 3 2012: Ahh the invincible optimism of the pretty lady with the big smile! Interesting that the nerve struck by my rant elicited the overhead explanation. Tinge of guilt Gisela?

        No, I understand business. Also that of the creep's five, at least three goes right to the landlord here in sunny SandyEggo. Probably something to do with business people repeating "location" three times. I said "creep" because I thought of a few that I've worked for, but I've also worked for people that I admired and respected. The creep/cool ratio was not less than 10/2 though.

        This is really about psychology, particularly attitude. Like the worst lemon of used cars, mine pulls hard to the left and breaks down completely every few miles. I need a shiny new one like yours. I appreciate your uploading "demo versions" of that attitude because engaging with it here helps with my alignment.

        To return to Lee's opening question, I would say that in my own experience, people are so much more complex than revealed in the superficial exchange of an interview. There are so many levels of doing things we don't want to do. From leaving a warm bed to go to the bathroom all the way to being challenged by a stranger to reveal sensitive information about what gives us self-worth. No matter what we do, we have to put on an act. What percentage of trained actors pass the audition?
        • thumb
          Feb 3 2012: Hi Zaz,
          I'm just another optimist with a smile popping in:>) I agree with Gisela...start your own business if you don't like working for someone else, or really evaluate yourself and the kind of work that might bring you joy. My life has been filled with work/play, just because that was the choice I made:>)

          You presented some important information in your comment...
          You say..."I said "creep" because I thought of a few that I've worked for, but I've also worked for people that I admired and respected. The creep/cool ratio was not less than 10/2 though".

          Are you letting your wake run your boat? Are you letting your past history determine your thoughts and feelings while looking for the right opportunity? I think you are absolutely right...a lot of the life process and how we interact in the world is "about pyschology, particularly attitude". Change the thoughts, we change the feelings, and possibly change our life experiences:>)

          Of course we are "complex", and of course there are many levels of "doing things". When we understand the various levels in our "self", we are using all "parts" of ourself and it is no longer an act...except for being the act of living conscienciously:>)

          Sending you a smile and "job seeking energy"...believe in yourself and your abilities:>)
      • thumb
        Feb 3 2012: Four years ago, I was brimming with optimism about the future when I took a nice buyout from a megacorp. The grueling, scarring misery of my early career seemed like another life. I had come so far and learned so much, I felt as invincible as a teenager. Three years ago, I was doing fine with unemployment checks and savings and casually sent resumes only to the jobs I really wanted. Two years ago, after an unprecedented 99 weeks the checks stopped and I started taking the hunt more serious. I began hitting in a wider pattern, shooting at lower targets and including more of the type of work that I had done before and hoped to avoid. One year ago, I started eating into my credit, signed up with a day labor outfit and started sitting in a room at 5 AM, crowded with all manner of beings, some functionally illiterate, others like me, radically overqualified. A few days of that proved pointless as most of us were left unused by afternoon. It wasn't until April that they called me out of the blue and sent me out for the most extreme physical labor I've done since Marine boot camp in exchange for minimum wage. The sporadic adventures offered have so far kept me from starving and joining the homeless army building out there and the margin gets ever thinner.

        I learned most of what I needed to know to repair the five-million dollar avionics package in Gulfstream-IV business jets in a few weeks (after a few years repairing small Cessna's and such.) I've managed, written a tech article, programmed myself out of a computer job, welded precision assemblies with a laser, electron beam, TIG. About twenty other odd and curious things. Now I'm getting ignored applying for jobs washing glassware for pharmaceutical companies.

        I believe in myself and my abilities. Getting someone willing to pay for those abilities is an entirely different story.
        • thumb
          Feb 3 2012: Hi again Zaz,
          Sounds like you know yourself, your skills, talents and needs pretty well, and if you simply had someone "willing to pay for those abilities" you'd be all set? We're back to the same question of this discussion...how do we sell, market, promote ourselves? I believe we either use our intelligence, skills, talents to build our own business, OR, use our intelligence and talents to market ourselves in a way that will get someone to pay for our abilities. It feels like you've created a "catch 22" for yourself where there is no way forward.....just an observation:>)
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jan 27 2012: Edward, I don't usually get into the yahoo style of rhetoric but I find it rather presumptuous of you to assume that I nor any of us are quite as ethereal as you. Like many people who frequent the annals of TED I have spent much of my life attempting to understand my fellow traveler and, while I have come across many such people they still remain in the minority. So I ask again why is it that so many of us have a difficult time promoting ourselves when the need arises?
      • thumb
        Jan 27 2012: I don't know what "yahoo style of rhetoric" is, there certainly are people like Edward describes, and it doesn't sound particularly "ethereal" to me. I think/feel that the way we talk, move, smile and make connections with others always projects how we feel about ourselves. Many times, that type of person doesn't need to "interview" because s/he has proved to be dependable, responsible and is welcomed into a team and/or working situation. Perhaps if we can understand what these people have, and how they offer those qualities, it could help answer the question "why do we sell ourselves so badly?" I believe this type of person projects confidence, as I've written in my other comments:>)
    • thumb
      Feb 3 2012: Unfortunately, this level of charm is often a trait of sociopaths.

      Ted Bundy, Paul Bernardo, etc. smooth talkers who were able to appear as you wanted them to appear.
  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: I had a unique lesson on this. When I was 38 I decided to go back to education and study to become an actor. In the process one of my teachers who I admired and trusted gave the class a piece of wisdom, he said "In this business you need to know who you are." Now while I consider that I am like most people and I do some discovering everyday I did take that on board. I became very comfortable with who I am because I had to in order to intelligently audition for roles which fell into my personality and attributes. For instance I am 5' 6", no good auditioning for the tall dark handsome leading man role, but I got a lot of work over the years auditioning for roles which would allow me to utilize my body type. I do wonder that many people who interview do so out of their realm of ability or character. Just because one owns a record collection it does make us a sound engineer. The point of all of this is that maybe the first step is to marry up our desires with our talents and then apply for the job which highlights both strengths. I think people are always more confident when they are comfortable.
    • thumb
      Jan 26 2012: Hi Lee,
      I agree with everything you have written. I had a similar lesson as a professional actor for several years. I agree that to audition or apply for any job, it's very important to know ourselves, just as it's helpful to know our "self" in all aspects of our lives. It's important to do the homework...know what our skills and talents are, and if we "fit" into the role or job we are applying for. Sometimes, we can be too critical of ourselves and miss opportunities.

      I started acting, singing, dancing in community musical theater as a hobby when I was 35. I auditioned for roles that were in my age and ability range...in my perception. One time, I auditioned for the older, character actor role, which I believed I "ft", was turned down for that role, and was offered the role of the young, energetic leading lady. I turned it down because I felt I was 'too old" to play that role. As the hobby evolved into a profession, I realized that I was often cast in roles that were younger than my actual age. I realized that it was time to re-evaluate my perception of my "self". I also realized that often, directors don't know exactly what they are looking for until they see it, and I think that may be true in many different job opportunities? I think confidence in ourselves and the ability to convey that confidence to the interviewer is the most important part of the "scene".

      I remember one funny audition...with a summer stock company I had worked with before, so there was a lttle advantage on my part. I was already cast in another of their summer productions, and I decided to audition for Chorus Line as well. I was in my late 30s, and by that time, I realized I looked younger on stage. During the audition, the director asked...can you dance? I said, pompously, "I can do anything I want!!! He said "You ARE Sheila, and I got the role. Sheila, the character, was supposed to be in her late 20s, pompous and arrogant:>)
  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: Another factor is that we tend to want to punish those we consider to have "a too inflated sense of self" so people are uncomfortable promoting themselves.

    I spent too much time pretending to blush when my work was complimented (which is distinct from the actual discomfort I feel when I am needlessly over-praised on a personal level) until I realized that the problem is that a good percentage of the population seems to think that self-esteem is a zero-sum concept. If I am pleased with an accomplishment, somehow there is less of this mysterious "accomplishment cloud" for them.

    I realized this years ago when a friend said that he felt a twinge when he saw happy people, because there was less happiness for him. And for a while, I just thought he was a nut until I put two and two together: it's much more common that we realize.

    And I get that a workplace is competitive and that roles can be a zero-sum game when we compensate based on hierarchy.

    But when we do that we also move people out of jobs they should be doing into jobs they "should" be doing.

    And it's all part of a bigger, uglier set of societal issues.

    So many also hear good things said about others as something negative being said about them. I have a friend who does this all the time and I am slowly training her out of it. One day someone said to her, "Gisela has amazing friends," and she lost it. Later she yelled at me about how my friends disrespect her, even though it had nothing to do with her.

    I personally have decided to announce "I'm awesome" when I accomplish something awesome because I think people need to let go of the idea that just because I know I did something cool, doesn't mean I think that they can't. I didn't just suck up all the awesomeness in the room, or use some mysterious daily ration of awesomeness.

    And weirdly enough, for the most part the people around me just do the same thing now. And then we all giggle.

    I can't imagine I would find that working for someone else. :-/
  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: Lee, whenever I reflect on my comments in an interview, I'm uncomfortable with the way I sound - I'm not used to it. An interview is one of the only times when I'm asked to articulate my unique and valuable skill set. Socially, with family or friends, or associates or even other dads at the playground, the expectation is that you don't articulate these things, but instead downplay them.

    People who interview well are very good competitors. They do their homework, and they prepare, rehearse, practice. People who use the strategy to 'just be themselves' sound unpolished and underwhelming in an interview. They've likely made the mistake of thinking that an interview is a normal social event.
  • thumb
    Jan 24 2012: Absolutely Gisela, That is why I take my time and do the pre-work before I submit a resume/cv. I investigate the company. I look at the mission and values and I also look at the strategic plan if I can get a hold of it. I look at company reports and where they are concentrating their budget. I look at all the documents to make sure there is good fit before I submit. But the real culture does not always make it to the documents. That is why I show up to the interview.
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: My overall position is that some of us can't. And some of us won't. So why the expectation in the first place? Really, why would you want someone to sell themselves outside of someone being considered for a sales position?
  • Jan 23 2012: Wow.....there seems to be alot of misuderstanding of what selling ourselves means.

    Is it possible that some of those who you thought were not selling themselves were simply bad at interviews?

    Perhaps those doing the interviews did not make the potential employees feel at ease with the interview prior to the beginning of it...."breaking the ice" sort of speak.

    Going into any interview requires some sort of confidence and boldness, as well as speaking with conviction about one's skills.

    Also, don't you think that putting all the fault on the poor person who is trying to get hired is a bit unfair? Could the interviewers have contributed to the discomfort of those being interviewed?

    I'll add that "selling oneself" tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred "Why do we find it so hard to promote ourselves and exude confidence when giving a job interview".

    I hope those going on interviews soon will learn something from this discussion.
  • thumb
    Jan 23 2012: well I can speak for myself. given a choice, i would not sell myself at all! i want my work to speak for me and i expect others to give time to understand me and my work. if someone wants someone good for the job, then they need to invest most time to get to know the person i think.
    • thumb
      Jan 25 2012: I suppose the problem with that is that it needs to be sold in the first place in order to be in a position to speak for it's self. Take an actor for instance, it's no good acting if there is no audience to see your work and in order for that to happen some selling needs to be done. In fact in order for one to be able to act (Usually) we need to audition and sell to the director that we are the one for the role. That done we can then allow our work to speak for it's self. This I believe is transferable to any subject.
    • thumb
      Jan 26 2012: I agree Shweta, that it is ideal to let our work speak for us. Before that happens, however, we need to have the opportunity to show our work. Prior to that, the only things we have are the written words on a resume, and our presentation of ourselves. Yes, idealy the interviewer will take time, however, that is not often the case, is it? If we always expect others to take time to understand us and our work, we may be disappointed. Realistically, interviewers usually have a certain amount of time to give to each applicant. In that time, I feel that it is our responsibility to show the interviewer who s/he might be hiring. The only way we can do that is to show him/her how we might "fit" in the position.
      • thumb
        Jan 26 2012: Hi Collen and Lee! I agree! Thankfully, I was lucky that for my first few opportunities, all I had to do was work and just be who I am/was. I got the oppotunities without the need to showcase anything. The interesting or challenging thing today is that I dont like selling myself as I never had to do so in past! and This is why I dont always enjoy the interviews and fellowship applications! :)
        • thumb
          Jan 26 2012: AWWWWW, so this is new, and a change for you Shweta! I understand, because for the first few years of my adult life, it seems that opportunities were presented to me as well, and I didn't have to "showcase" myself or abilities. The concept of showcasing myself, talents, skills or proving myself worthy of the job, started with the acting career, and it was a GREAT lesson. You are wise to percieve it as an interesting challenge:>) In order to showcase ourselves and abilities, we need to know ourselves on another level, so in my perception, it challenges us to know ourselves differently, and that was a gift to me. Hope it works out to be a gift for you as well:>)