6 Ways to Promote Yourself Without Bumbling, Bragging, or Being a Jerk 

By Rick Gillis 

Google “self-promotion” and up come the haters. 

In a flash, you’ll see countless negative articles. From “Why Self-Promotion Is a Terrible Idea” to “The Braggart’s Dilemma” to “Please Shut Up,” there’s no shortage of spewing. 

Here’s the problem: In today’s intensely competitive, hyper-social work world, self-promotion is no longer just a professional responsibility. It’s a career survival skill.

Employers must know your real value. Otherwise you’ll find yourself on the losing end professionally. You won’t get the job, the raise, the promotion, the respect and recognition you deserve.

Your career success depends on your ability to promote yourself correctly. Yet many people have a blatant inability to properly express their value to higher-ups and hiring managers.

Here are six ways to do self-promotion right.

1. Don’t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do.

Whether you work six feet or 6,000 miles away from your boss, it’s unlikely he has more than a general idea about what you do beyond the minimum he expects. He probably has countless other responsibilities than his direct reports, and is increasingly stretched too thin.

And you think he knows exactly what you do? Not a chance. It’s up to you to actively promote yourself.

2. Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging.

As a kid, you were likely taught that modesty is the best policy. Better to let others discover your greatness on their own. 

The problem is, in all probability, they won’t. Besides, when done properly, self-promotion is not bragging. It isinforming.

3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative.

In any workplace, you’re seen first as a commodity, not a person. Accordingly, you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments—the things that express your commercial value to the business. Be able to roll those things off your tongue anytime, anywhere, to anyone.

4. Quantify your worth.

You were hired because someone believed that you’d produce more value for the company than you’d cost.

Consider, for instance, a payroll clerk I once worked with. In the first run he ever did at XYZ Company, he cut 6,000 paychecks alone, on time, with zero returns. Think of the cost savings created by an error-free check run of that size. 

5. Source and shape your success stories.

Unless you are just starting out or have a superhuman memory, you’ll need to do some heavy lifting to track down your past accomplishments—end results, problems solved, projects completed on time and on budget, and so forth.

To begin, look at old resumes, business planners, performance reviews, and journals. Then reach out to family, friends, managers, co-workers, customers, etc. To bypass generic responses, you must do this by phone. No email. No exceptions.   

6. Master the three-part accomplishment statement.

Your accomplishments must be crafted into a single three-part statement with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

You’ll convey what you did, what that resulted in, and the value or net result. For example: “Created a digital filing system that resulted in 300 man hours saved per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually.”

Rick Gillis is a nationally recognized careers expert and employment coach specializing in trends and technologies in the modern job search. A onetime workplace radio and TV host, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and the author of five books. His new book is Promote! It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career. Visit rickgillis.com.

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