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Somebody Said it Was Bad to Talk About Myself

I have had students tell me they are “uncomfortable” talking about themselves and their brand. When career transition arrives (voluntarily or involuntarily) how, then, does one compete in such an intensely competitive job market? After all, don’t hiring managers expect job seekers to be articulate, organized and well-prepared?  I’ve heard:

“Talking about myself has always been taboo.”

“You shouldn’t brag about yourself.”

“I don’t like to talk about myself – it’s weird and uncomfortable. I have a tendency to shut down.”

If you do not like talking about yourself, here are a few ideas to help you get more comfortable with the process: 

  • Get to know your product. Know everything there is to know about yourself – your features, your faults, your benefits and your value. Do this task before you go to market and explore options. As harsh as it may sound, hiring managers aren’t therapists. They don’t have time to pull content from you. They don’t have time to figure you out (or help you figure yourself out). They don’t have time for you to contemplate why they should hire you. You either know your stuff - or you don’t. You either share it freely - or you don’t. You either know your brand’s value and worth - or you don’t. So use your time wisely and well when you are invited to interview for a job. Share the very, very best of what you have to offer.
  • Practice talking about yourself. Rehearse your lines until you know precisely what you wish to say about yourself and your candidacy without looking at your notes. Practice at least 25 times. Practice standing in front of a mirror. Practice standing up to rehearse your lines. Dress in your interview attire as you practice. Practice pays – it just does!
  • Create a PowerPoint about the product - you. Develop 10 or 12 slides that capture the best of you, your credentials and the value you offer to an employer. Preparation is key in all things job search. If you do not know PowerPoint, find 10 – 12 pieces of paper. Fill each sheet of paper with one piece of relevant, essential information that you want a hiring manager to know about you. When you have completed this task, you will then have 10 - 12 compelling pieces of evidence that prove you are a worthy contender for a job of interest. 
  • Let go of old scripts such as “I hate talking about myself” and write a new one that works to your advantage. Think thoughts that work for you, not against you. How about telling yourself:  “It is my job to speak knowledgeably about myself in order to well educate an employer about my gifts, talents, abilities and value." Educate, teach, train and inform a hiring manager about your assets. Also, know your weaknesses in preparation for the job interview.
  • Make it easy for the employer to get to know you. In a job interview, refrain from saying, “Oh, I really don’t like talking about myself” or “Oh, it is very uncomfortable to speak about myself.” Instead, thank the prospective employer for the opportunity to share your story. Give the hiring manager ample reason(s) to hire you, not dismiss you from the pool of candidates.

In short, do yourself a favor and get comfortable speaking about the amazing brand you. Prepare well. Practice much. Practice often. You will know when you are ready to get in the job search game. Not only will an employer notice how prepared you are, as importantly, you will notice. And ever so slowly, you will find yourself getting more comfortable talking about yourself -- not in a braggadocios way, but in a manner that shows a hiring manager that you are well prepared, organized and articulate.