Selling Yourself…..REALLY???

a pose

by kenneth Justice

~Yesterday morning at coffee a dude in a designer suit and tennis shoes sat down next to me with a young woman…..turned out he was from some company and was interviewing a potential prospect to fill a job opening.

Oddly enough, coffee houses seem to be a popular place for job interviews because over the years I’ve observed no less than a hundred or so and they always take on one particular form; after the interviewer asks their various question they almost inevitably turn to the interviewee and say, “okay, now sell me on yourself; why should I hire you?”

This is usually the most uncomfortable part of the interview; who wants to ‘sell themselves’?

For many of us, having to sell ourselves isn’t the most natural or comfortable thing to do. Talking about ourselves as though we are ‘indispensable’, ‘awesome’, or ‘the best worker in the history of workers’  often feels a bit too unnatural.

For many of us, we would rather let our work and resume speak for themselves.

However, if you think about it; much of life is about selling ourselves.

—) Get pulled over by a traffic officer for speeding and you might find yourself saying, “But officer, I’ve had such a great driving record until just now”.

—) Try to get into that IVY league school or college program and you might find yourself speaking highly of yourself in a college application or to a recruiter.

—) Try to get a book published and your agent or publisher is going to want to know why they should publish your book

—) Go on a first date and you will find yourself talking about your ‘finer’ points.

Whether we like it or not, much of life is about self-promotion

Writing a blog is in many ways a form of self-promotion; I kept a private journal for years and it was what it was; private. But a blog is a way of putting our ideas and thoughts out in the public…for others to see……to promote what we have to say.

Some people take self-promotion to an annoying level; those are the people who are constantly bragging about themselves and telling you how wonderful they are. Do any of us like people who brag?

Self-promotion can be good and it can be bad…..I guess it’s a matter of how we do it and a matter of how we abuse it.

Some companies seem to take commercials and self-promoting their products to a whole new level of absurdity. Take for instance all these pharmaceutical companies who hawk their products via commercial; ‘buy our products and don’t worry about the risks’.

–) If you take Latisse you will have ‘thicker’ more ‘beautiful’ eyelashes Brooke Shields told us…..oh by the way; you also might experience major allergic reactions, damage to your cornea, and hair growth outside of the treatment area! Somehow Brooke Shields forgot to convey the potential problems to us in the commercial!

—) Do you have knee pain? Take Cymbalta! Oh by the way…it might cause you to have serious diarrhea, nausea, and suicidal thoughts!

—) Suffer from bipolar disorder? Take Depakote! Oh by the way it might cause potentially fatal liver damage, pancreatitis and brain and spinal cord birth defects!

I have a lot of friends who are currently dating and that is another form of self-promotion; in the beginning you talk about all your good qualities (kind of like a pharmaceutical commercial) and it isn’t until you’ve been dating for a while that you find out about the potential ‘side-affects’. Imagine if you had to mention all the negatives at the beginning of the relationship; suffice to say, first dates would very different!

To be honest, I’m not against self-promotion….I’m just still trying to figure out where that line is between positive self-promotion and self-promotion that goes too far; any ideas?

But for now…..I could really go for another cup of coffee.


Categories: Really???

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19 replies

  1. Well, that was depressing.

  2. Well a friend told me long ago that I may be the best in my field but I don’t know how to sell myself. Now isn’t that a nice way to sell? 😉 I think that a witty guy can sell himself nicely and just be witty. It is a stupid question and I always freeze when they do it to me. Of course people that ask such questions are usually not the best employees for me.

  3. it is such a fine line isn’t it? dating-wise… it’s definitely not recommended to go into too much detail about the baggage you carry right away – it tends to scare people off haha, thought you watch enough rom-com movies and it’s definitely best to be forthcoming about it eventually. interviewing – im glad i’ve never had someone just flat tell me to “sell myself” to them. that would be hard for me. obviously in the rest of the interview it’s basically the same thing so it seems a little redundant to me also to then ask someone to sell themselves to the interviewer. but you’re right… there is a lot of selling going on overall. it seems to me that there needs to be more of it too these days because people are getting more leery of others and there’s trust issues and employers are much more picky about who they hire (sometimes for good reason)., etc. would be nice to be able to step away from the selling aspect and let personalities and work ethics speak for themselves. i hate commercials lol.

    • ” interviewing – im glad i’ve never had someone just flat tell me to “sell myself” to them. that would be hard for me”

      Jen, i agree with you….its really strange how many times i’ve observed interviewer’s ask the question “okay, so sell me on yourself”…..I’m not exaggerating either; its a very common tactic done in interviews now-a-days and i don’t think i like it at all.

  4. The tricky part about self-promotion is walking that fine line between honest evaluations of your abilites and other people thinking you’re bragging. You can be the most charming son of a bitch to ever walk the earth, but get in a room with someone who takes everything as a personal attack and you telling them how much you can help them just translates to you thinking you’re better than they are. The best tactic for successful self-promotion is to know your audience and cater to what they want to hear and what they will accept as the truth.

    • ” The best tactic for successful self-promotion is to know your audience and cater to what they want to hear and what they will accept as the truth”

      so much truth in this statement; knowing our audience is vital to so many areas of life…..I like that line, “knowing our audience”

  5. A designer suit and tennis shoes! How funny. The best advice I ever got interviewing for a principal who knew how to get the employee he needed was “interview me”. Find out if you want this job! You might hate this place and why suck up to me and try to get a miserable place to work. From then on I had the mind set to find out if I really belonged in a particular job. Of course there are times when people are so desperate they will feel they need to lie about themselves to fit in to an ill fitting job. If you are very flexible, who knows you may have what they didn’t know they needed. Say that then.
    On a computer dating site I tried all kinds of psychology “No New Age Speak” “No Macho Men”. It never works. The one common thing about all assholes is that they take it as a challenge to trick you into believing they are something they are not. We all need better BS detectors.

  6. I wonder if there is any self-sales potential in self deprecation? That’s what I’m GREAT at!

  7. I am, by all evidence, terrible at self-promotion. That is not a virtue. I simply have no desire to get the kinds of things that require self-promotion. I have never had a career and never wanted one. (Hmmmm. Is that why I am always broke? I wonder…) And I was spared the whole dating scene by either a miracle or the greatest bit of good luck in the world.
    I would hope to be the kind of interviewer that wouldn’t put the interviewee into a position of needing to lie or distort. Doesn’t that seem counter-productive from the managerial viewpoint? Wouldn’t it be safer to take a different approach to interviewing, one that encouraged honesty and forth-rightness? Everyone has weaknesses. Do managers really believe it is better to hire people who can more successful mask their weaknesses? I do not understand how such an idiotic system can continue.
    Well, you can see how little I get out.

    • Carroll,

      ‘spared the dating scene’

      i suspect a lot of people most likely envy you!

      Although hollywood makes the dating scene appear to be so cool and wonderful….more often than not people get very frustrated by it.

  8. I have never been good at “selling myself”, uncomfortable is kind of an understatement. Good blo,as usual. And I am with you – more coffee 🙂

  9. Reminds me about a piece I wrote about peacocks embodying the very concept of false advertising.
    (See what I did there?) 🙂
    Brilliant post, I enjoy your blog immensely.

  10. If an employer is asking the right questions there should be no need to ‘sell’ yourself. As the other commenter said, there should be more interviewing of the prospective boss.
    A lot of people are nervous enough that this would tip them oer the edge.
    I hope I never have to go through the acting scene again, if I did I would be upfront about my baggage – no point wasting anyone’s time at my age.
    We are all selling ourselves up it is the subtle ways rather than straight up ‘ I’m so good because…’ For most of us anyway.
    Partaking in my second coffee, great post. 🙂

  11. Self promotion should probably be in the area between, ‘Aww, shucks and not quite a full on display of peacock feathers.’

  12. Reading your post, and looking over the comments, I find myself chuckling. Modern life is depressing, lol, but acknowledging and accepting things go a long ways towards peace. Alot of things in life are about self-promotion. We encourage our kids to go to college,get that degree, so they can “sell” themselves to a good job. It’s not always easy or comfortable, referencing the interview scenario, but it’s not all bad either. I like it when someone notices the good I’ve done, or enjoys something I’ve written or cooked; it’s rewarding. An having said that, I’m off to sleep now!

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