Bigging yourself up

The job interview is not the occasion for false modesty, nor is your annual appraisal. These days it not enough to be good at your job you need to tell people just how good you are. Bigging yourself up is now a skill all ambitious managers need. Some people are more comfortable with this than others but bigging yourself up is not about boasting it’s about detailing your achievements ,identifying your contribution and if you’re smart giving recognition to others. Those who over sell their contribution, claim credit for the efforts of others and can’t back up their claims simply haven’t mastered the art.

There is a difference between being confident and being over confident and there is a difference between marketing yourself and coming over as lacking self awareness or appearing desperate.

You don’t want your job application to read like one of those Christmas round robin letters where the parents boast about the academic and sporting achievements of their clever children, the successes of their gifted and talented partner and how much they are in demand socially. The detail of which is they went to the cinema twice last year, their son is one of the best players ever to have turned out for the second team and their partners acting talents have been recognised by the local amateur dramatics society following their enthusiastic performance as the rear end of a pantomime horse.

The most effective way of bigging yourself up is to get someone else to do it for you. We all take what someone says about themselves with a pinch of salt but we are far more impressed by positive comments from a colleague. Management recruitment consultants are fond of doing this informal information gathering and then head hunt for senior posts on the bases of “I’ve been hearing good things about you”. Strangely enough the best way to get people to say good things about you is if you say good things about them. I am not saying you should say everyone is brilliant but if you recognise their contribution they are more likely to recognise yours and if they have lots of good ideas then why not say so especially if you’re trying to promote yourself as a person who turns good ideas in to actions.

Clearly your strategy for marketing yourself has to involve more than just relying on other people to say how dynamic and innovative you are or how well you led a recent project you need to go into that interview armed with your examples, pointing out where you exceeded expectations and how you over came obstacles.

 Annual appraisals are once a year but marketing yourself is an all year round exercise. You need to be involved in projects or working groups that will raise your profile outside of your department and organisation; this will provide plenty of informal opportunities to let people know how active you are in other areas and how involved you are in anything that’s innovative and interesting.  

Bigging yourself up requires considerable effort but if it’s done well then you will get the recognition and rewards your work deserves.

Blair McPherson author of Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House


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