My childhood was shaped by hard-working, humble parents and I have modeled their hard-working, humble behavior most of my life. I cringe at arrogance in others and have a goal not to become a haughty rooster strutting my stuff in the barnyard. My parents are amazing, generous, salt-of-the-earth folks. However, after more years of living than I want to think about, I’ve been tackling the problems with this approach.
The main problem with humility is that it promotes a tendency to under-sell my skills and stay quiet when others jump in to rattle off their countless virtues and flawless history. (Not to mention the fact that humility and humble have no desirable synonyms. One dictionary listing suggests that to be humble is to not be assertive–this isn’t what I want!)
Think optimistically and precisely about your working self,
for potential employers take you at your self-estimate.
This revised prediction applies to a jobseeker in many ways:
Cover Letter: Despite repeated advice from experts that a cover letter is key in convincing gatekeepers to read the attached résumé and consider you for an interview, it seems many individuals are unfamiliar with cover letter use or strategies. You can bring even more flavor to this document, but do not lose sight of its real purpose: To make a good case for why what you have to offer will fill their hiring needs.
If a jobseeker is presented timidly in either of these documents, the chances of scoring an interview or staying on file are diminished. As I once told a reluctant client, “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true,” to which I now add “relevant.” Relevance is important in making a convincing argument, as is keeping the focus on what the employer needs (rather than your unabashed desire to be promoted and make loads of money).
Interview: For someone who has made it to the coveted interview, this is not the time to be shy. Nor is it the time to be abrasive, boastful, or out of rhythm with the interviewer. Treat the interview as a dance where the interviewer sets the pace and leads you to the next steps; follow the steps but take openings to present your case clearly and concisely. If you are well-prepared with specific examples, questions, thoughtful answers, and knowledge about the hiring company, then it will be easier to follow the cadence of the interview while still presenting your best case. Be confident and attentive, which is not the same as arrogant and domineering. (For tips on making a good impression in the crucial first minutes, see this article: ”In hiring, first 12 minutes count most.”)
Follow-up Contacts and Networking: It is perfectly acceptable, in fact de rigueur, to promptly write a note or e-mail to thank interviewers and then to follow up within a few days. It is also acceptable to gently remind interviewers about the value you proposed in your meeting and any specific sparks you felt at the time. Further, it is recommended to talk with most everyone you know about your job goals and specific interests. Doing so will create links you did not know you had; a side benefit is the more you practice talking about what you are looking for and bring to the table, the easier it gets to do so.