For many of us, the thought of ‘selling’ ourselves can feel cringeworthy or embarrassing. Hardly surprising, given that thinking and speaking highly of ourselves are often frowned upon in society and associated with being cocky or arrogant.
But to progress in your career, or when looking for a new role, you’ll need to become adept at selling yourself. In the challenging jobs market we are currently experiencing, it’s crucial to find a way to stand out from the crowd; to really progress and have some choice about where you might want to be and who you might want to work for. Without projecting yourself in the right way and knowing your own USP, it’s hard to break through the ‘noise’.
When thinking about “self-promotion” or “self-marketing”, it helps to look at it from your current boss’ or hiring organisation’s perspective. If your boss gives you a promotion, it’ll cost the company extra money in increased wages and benefits. If an employer hires you, they’ll make a contract with you that’ll cost the organisation money in terms of salary, training and insurance. In a way, employers ‘buy’ the value you have to offer. To convince them you’ll add value, you need to demonstrate your worth and how you’ll contribute positively to their organisation. This can take some planning, some confidence building and some learning about yourself and who you’re talking to, in order to fully understand what approach you may want to take.
The Selling Mentality
Successful selling begins in your head and in how you see and value yourself. If you’re not convinced of your own value, no one else will be. Banish all fears about not being worthy of the job or promotion you want. Working on your inner confidence will shine through in everything that you do.
Here are some pointers for adopting the selling mindset.
- If you don’t like yourself, no one else will. Find time every day to think about one thing you like about yourself. The more comfortable and happy you are in your own skin and the more you know and recognise your worth, the easier it’ll be to convince others of that worth. Spend time with people that like and appreciate you.
- Recognise what you have been able to do and be proud of it. Learning to like yourself can take time, so don’t beat yourself up about it if it takes you a while to gain more self-esteem and to pull the pieces together. Start small and look at the things that you can do and what this has led you to be able to achieve. What good things have you been responsible for? What positive impact did you have? Get to know yourself better. Take a hard look at what you have done, your achievements and what you are all about. Reflect on this and analyse it.
- Project a positive persona and believe in yourself and what you have to offer. If you’re feeling low in confidence, don’t worry – just try to work out what it is that you can do and what you do have going for you. Identify your strengths, the stuff that you’re naturally great at and work with those. Stick to what you can do, rather than trying to be something that you aren’t.
- Draw inspiration from successful ‘self-sellers’ you know. If you think selling yourself is an impossible task, watch and observe family, friends or colleagues who have successfully worked their way into a company or job they wanted. They’re living proof that you can do it too!
- If you really can’t seem to adopt the selling mindset on your own, consider using a career professional to help you get there.
- Selling yourself doesn’t mean being aggressive and selfish. Accept that you’ll have to be consistently polite and willing to help others if you want to sell yourself to employers as the ultimate professional.
- Be passionate about what you want to do. Express that fervour in all your efforts to sell yourself and achieve your specific career goal. People respond well to authenticity and when they see you’re passionate about landing that particular role or career you want, they’re more likely to respond positively to your sales pitch.
- Ask questions and listen attentively. Much of the selling process is quite subtle and comes from the knowledge you gain about the person you’re selling to. So, don’t talk at people about yourself – ask questions and find out as much as you can about them, about the market, about what’s going on in their company and so on. Listen and learn in order to be able to find your route in. For more tips on listening skills check out: ARE YOU REALLY LISTENING OR DREAMING ABOUT WHAT TO EAT FOR SUPPER?
- Be consistent in word and deed. It’s much easier to sell something that’s a consistent brand. That’s why even the biggest companies are still so brand-conscious. In order to brand yourself, get into the mindset of being consistent in everything you say and do in the professional sphere. Consistent brands are the most recognisable and therefore the most attractive to buyers.
- Stick to your principles. It’s much easier to be consistent if you stick to your principles and beliefs and don’t chop and change according to what you think different people want. You’re selling yourself not who you think people want or expect you to be.