Why are women, both in the workplace and in our personal lives, more likely to play down our successes? We try not to come across as bragging, even though modesty has been shown time and time again through studies (such as those recently published by The Huffington Post and The Chicago Tribune) that self-promotion is integral in the workplace.
I am nearing the end of my time at the University of Michigan, and like many other students, I tend to downplay my academic achievements. Recently, I completed a 100-page senior honors thesis – a project that took me almost an entire year to complete. It was certainly one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. However, in discussing this accomplishment with potential employers, I often find myself feeling as though I’m bragging or boasting.
The women who need self-promotion the most are struggling with it the most. Young female recent graduates have a difficult time selling themselves in a professional setting. In an attempt to help these young ladies, some schools are changing their approach and hosting events like annual “Brag Parties.” The Young Woman’s Leadership School of East Harlem is one such school; its event focuses on helping women succeed both academically and socially. The High Water Women, a philanthropic group consisting of successful women, come together once a year with high school students to teach young girls in East Harlem how to promote themselves without coming across as arrogant.
If we’re constantly worrying about whether or not we come across as arrogant, likely, other people don’t perceive us this way.
Not sure if Proof is right for you? Here are five things to keep in mind during your next job interview that will help you avoid coming across as arrogant.
- DO discuss the accomplishment in terms of the skills you acquired. If you recently organized a charity event for your university club or ran a marathon, talk about the time management and leadership skills you acquired. The charity event likely required exceptional stamina and dedication to see through to its success. Alternatively, if reached your fitness goal by running a marathon, emphasize both the mental and physical strength it took to complete it.
- DON’T define your success in terms of chance or assistance from others. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook states, “Men attribute their success to innate qualities and skills. Women attribute their success to luck and help from others.” Even though it is good to state you are a team player, let your future employer know that you have solely achieved your own academic/career successes.
- DO have a former colleague, boss, or professor speak as a testament to your accomplishments. By supplementing your words with credible references, you will significantly bolster the interviewer’s opinion of you. Although the interviewer may not ask for a recommendation, it is always prudent to have references ready that can attest to your notable achievements.
- DON’T forget to dress the part. Congratulations on finishing a difficult project! Don’t let your appearance take away from this success by being underdressed for job interviews.
- Still feeling uneasy? One of the best ways to get comfortable discussing your accomplishments is to practice in front of people whose opinions you trust. Ask for their feedback and use it to help improve your confidence.
Now you can ace that interview!
Please let us know in the comments what your suggestions are for sharing successes without coming across as arrogant!
Find out from Michael Skolnik, Political Director to Russell Simmons and President of GlobalGrind.com, about how he discusses his successes!