How to brag about your work without being a blowhard
Canadians are known for being polite to a fault: we’re self-effacing, we apologize too much, and while we’re pretty awesome, we really don’t like to brag.
A recent survey by LinkedIn seems to back that up. It found that only 29 per cent of Canadians would feel comfortable talking about their work achievements, compared to 40 per cent of Americans who have no problem listing what they’ve accomplished in their careers.
Boasting might not be in our Canadian nature, but Julie Dossett, the communications lead at LinkedIn Canada, says there is a time and a place for everything. If you want to get recognized for your work or snag that next opportunity, you better be ready to strut your stuff.
“If you’re not able to communicate what you’ve achieved and why it’s relevant, then who will?” she asks.
So how do you sell yourself when that next great opportunity presents itself without sounding obnoxious? Here are her tips.
FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL
Even if you’re not currently looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to regularly take a few moments to write down what makes you great at what you do, Dossett says.
That could happen by regularly updating your LinkedIn profile, or by simply drafting an “elevator pitch” about yourself in case you make a great contact at your next work event.
Jot down some of your accomplishments and what they meant to your employer, Dossett says. Next, write about the things that energize you and what you’re looking forward to learning more about. Then, list your “superpowers” -- those things you do better than anyone else.
“Set aside your worry about bragging because this is a situation where you’re not bragging; you’re merely articulating who you are professionally, and trying to distinguish yourself,” she says.
ASK A FRIEND FOR HELP
The LinkedIn survey found that while we really don’t like talking about our own abilities, 55 per cent of us would have no problem talking up a colleague’s accomplishments.
So sit down with a friend and ask them: how would you talk about me? What are my work strengths? Dossett says your colleagues might notice things about you that you hadn’t realized were special. And they can give you their thoughts on your latest resume or work profile page.
“You have one chance to make a good impression,” she says. “So get some feedback to make sure you are making the most of that one chance.”
When writing a resume, a LinkedIn profile, or any personal bio page, Dosett advises using language that is both professional but feels natural.
“It’s important to be authentic to your true voice. Don’t try to be something else you’re not,” she says.
Aim for the keywords that hiring managers would be looking for, but stay away from buzzwords.
“Calling yourself a ‘strategic, creative leader who is motivated and energetic’ might sound good. But the problem is that everyone says something like that,” she says. “And when everyone uses the same words, they become meaningless.”
Resume-writing doesn’t really need to be that hard. Look at other profiles of people in your field, get to know the language of your sector, and then write in your words to showcase your unique personality.
There might be an autobot combing through your resume, but Dossett says at the end of the day, it’s people who hire people.
“And they want a sense of who you are and what you aspire to be,” she says.
BE READY TO SELL YOURSELF AT ANY TIME
The LinkedIn survey asked Canadians if they would be ready to convince their dream employer to hire them if they were to meet by chance in an elevator. Only one in six said they would be.
Dossett doesn’t find that stat surprising, but she says it’s important to always be ready to sell yourself.
The conversations that change our careers don’t necessarily take place at job interviews, she says. They happen at parties, conferences, client meetings -- anywhere. In fact, most of the big opportunities happen when we’re not out looking for them. So it’s good to always have your bragging sheet ready to go, so you can tell the world why you’re great at a moment’s notice.
“It’s amazing how opportunity knocks when we’re not expecting it to,” Dossett says. “And if it’s knocking, you better be ready to answer.”