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Self-Promotion: Finding the Balance Between Mr. Rogers and Mr. Trump

By Gerald Walsh ©

Humility is an admirable quality for sure, especially these days when it seems like the airwaves and social media are filled with self-aggrandizing, narcissistic politicians taking credit for accomplishments they don’t deserve.

But having too much humility, on the other extreme, can work against you especially when interviewing for a job or seeking a promotion.

The challenge is how to promote yourself without sounding like a braggart. In other words, how to find the right balance between Mr. Rogers and Mr. Trump. Here are a few tips:

1. Back up your words with proof. In interviews, many people speak convincingly about topics they don’t know or understand or take credit for things they didn’t do. Don’t get caught in that situation. Make sure you can back up all your claims with concrete examples.

2. Project a quiet confidence about yourself. You will be taken more seriously if you come across as relaxed, happy, and poised. Think like someone who wants the job but doesn’t need the job.

3. Always maintain respectful relations with everybody. You do this by being friendly, saying “good morning”, remembering names, learning about others’ families and interests, and genuinely caring about the well-being of others.

4. Seek stretch assignments. Volunteering for a task that might be slightly beyond your current capabilities is a great way to demonstrate initiative and willingness to learn new things. It is also a great way to increase your visibility among senior management.

5. Display confidence by acknowledging your mistakes. It says you’re not perfect. It takes a strong person to admit their mistakes and appreciate there is room for improvement.

6. Give credit to others when appropriate without diminishing your own accomplishments.

7. Make sure your body language and words align. Whether in an interview or staff meeting, lean forward, make eye contact, use hand gestures, and smile. You will appear relaxed, professional, and confident.

Nobody likes a braggart. But too much humility won’t get you far. You will have to self-promote. Your task is to find the right balance between the two extremes.

Related:

When Things Go Bad During An Interview

Don’t Sweat The Interview


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.