We’ve all heard it, used it, or tried it in some fashion, “get out there and sell yourself!” And it has its place, like any other tool in the tactical job search toolbox. Yet all too frequently, sell yourself turns into a sort of “pump-um-up & push-um-out the door” mantra.
This is not to say that encouraging someone to present or promote themselves is a bad thing, certainly not. Clearly there are lots of well-intention ed helpers out there trying to make a difference in the lives of many struggling with low self-esteem and limiting life experiences.
Nonetheless, relying too heavily on cliches like “sell yourself” can not only be counterproductive, but flat out lousy advice. Here are 3 reasons why:
It Leads to Reactivity
You wouldn’t think so, after all, self-promotion in this way seems like the poster-boy of proactive behavior. But soon enough the self-promoter will find out that real success is about something beyond “them” and that strategies built on the illusion of selling themselves, isn’t enough. Then what? They’ll be ill-equipped to deliver what the employer really wants and needs, which will feed right into old habits of reactive behavior.
It’s Not About Them
In fact, no one is really interested in “them” or the time they think they’re selling. The REAL rules of the Marketplace dictate it’s about other things. Success for all parties comes from the ability to get along with other people and NOT about each of us as individuals. Furthermore, seasoned managers don’t need an advanced degree in psychology to know there’s a correlation between significant background problems and unaddressed/unresolved personal issues that can impact THEIR workplace environment.
It’s About Service
It (re-entry success) is about what someone can do. The service they are capable of providing. This must come FIRST. Other things, including strategic self-promotion, will come later. Being proactive, having and implementing a plan, and knowing that it isn’t about “them” pave the road to success. And yes I know, there’s a pressing need to get a foot-in-the-door. But there are more effective ways to do this by demonstrating an understanding for what really counts, service.
There is in truth one sale that does have to be made. And it turns out that it does involve selling yourself. This sale is the one made by the challenged seeker internally. They, like all of us, must buy into themselves. Call it confidence, conviction, nerve, or guts. Both the helper and helpee will benefit from more emphasis on this internal sale than the external quick fix variety.