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Self-Promotion Done Right: 6 Ways To Show Your Value At Work Without Bragging

By Rick Gillis, author of “PROMOTE!: It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career

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

In a flash, you’ll see countless negative articles and posts. 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 frequently 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 — maybe (gasp!) even you — have a blatant inability to properly express their value to higher-ups and hiring managers. As an employment and job search coach, I’ve come to consider this skill gap a deadly deficiency.

Here are six ways to do self-promotion right:

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

In the real world, you’re at the mercy of your manager. Why, then, do you assume he 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 perhaps just like you, is stretched too thin. And you think he knows all about your abilities and accomplishments? Not a chance.

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

As a kid, you were likely taught that modesty is the best policy. “Don’t brag,” said grown-ups repeatedly. 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 is informing.

3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative.

To prove your indispensability to an employer, you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments — the things that express your commercial value to the business.

Commercial value? That might be a new concept to you. However, in any position in any workplace, you’re seen first as a commodity, not a person. Accordingly, you have to be able to roll your accomplishments 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.

Yet I had to pry the information out of him. Why? “Because,” he said, “I was just doing my job.” My point: You needn’t be a bona fide revenue generator or accomplish earth-shattering feats like inventing the iPhone to quantify your worth.

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.

To begin, look at old resumes, business planners, performance reviews, and journals. Then reach out to all the people you know — family, friends, managers, co-workers, customers, coaches, teachers, vendors, and on and on. Email won’t work here. To bypass generic responses, you must do this by phone. Period.

Focus on end results, problems solved, projects completed on time and on budget, and the impact you had on individuals, groups, and organizations.

6. Master the three-part accomplishment statement. 

What are you supposed to do with all that amazing information you’ve collected? You’re going to craft every one of your accomplishments 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. The trick is to keep it simple yet still tell a compelling story. For example: “Created a digital filing system that resulted in 300 man hours saved per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually.”

Ready? Sure you are. In doing self-promotion right, you can reach your true potential, and realize the success you so greatly deserve.


Rick Gillis

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“.


This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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