How To Sell Yourself (When You Hate Doing It)
Real talk: I am terrible at selling myself. It's such a alien concept to me, the idea of boasting about what I'm good at, and consequently job interviews and networking are terrifying prospects.
So imagine my fear when I had a meeting with the head of recruitment at my all time favourite organisation this summer. Of course I wanted them to be impressed by me – I harbour hopes of working there one day, after all – but I also didn't want to go in as someone I'm not. Shouting about my achievements, by the way, counts as something I'm not.
I turned to friends for advice, asking them how they navigated the tricky process. Some felt confident and capable in their abilities which, whilst laudable, was little to no help. Others told me to front, and present a persona that was a more confident version of the real me. This I liked a little more, but it still felt uncomfortable. Was there any way I could feel truly authentic, whilst also secretly selling myself?
Luckily I discovered there is! Now advice is never universal, so some of these might not work for you. If they don't, that's fine: the key is to exploring what works best for you and putting it into action. These are merely suggestions that I have found helpful.
Talk about a topic that you're passionate about: This blew my mind. It was my internship boss who first suggested it, knowing me as she does, and it worked a charm. When you talk about something that you care deeply about, your knowledge, commitment and best skills just naturally slip out. Instead of saying "I founded a peer support group that is being replicated on the NYU campus", I could say "Consent is something that I care really deeply about, and we, the peer support group that I cofounded, have pushed to include it in conversations within my university but we find the context challenging. In New York, where the group has been replicated, they face different challenges". Do you see the difference?
Talk about specific projects: Related to the point above, discussing specific projects that you were involved with will still naturally demonstrate the part you played. I find focusing on the challenges of projects one of the easiest ways for my strengths to shine through, because you demonstrate the skills you used to overcame them and/or show that you have thought about many different aspects of a situation and can assess them.
Don't apologise for your ideas: You know your experience best, and you have the right to have the ideas you have. State them, don't apologise for them. You have every right to share your perspective, even if it makes you nervous.
Don't downplay your work: Even if you don't want to shout about your experiences, don't undersell them. It's easy for phrases such as "oh it wasn't really.." or "really it was the team who did this..". This is not a time to be humble. Even if you want to give others credit, rephrase it. "We worked as a strong team by..." still values the people who were part of your experience whilst maintaining the role you played.
Share the feedback of others: If you had a supervisor or boss who gave you good feedback on your strengths, share them. That way you don't have to sell yourself, but are still communicating the best bits of you. Simple phrases like "At my last job, my boss praised my ability to..."
These are just little suggestions to help you along your way. Perhaps you already find it easy, in which case good for you! But for those like me that are more inclined to undersell ourselves,