“I’m not a salesperson.”
“I don’t like to promote myself, I’m not that kind of person.”
“I don’t want to come off as bragging.”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say “I’m not a salesperson,” or “I’m not comfortable tooting my own horn,” etc., when it comes to preparing for an interview. There’s something about the stereotype of a negative salesperson that has lodged itself in many of our minds. That stereotype does all of us a huge disservice. First of all, sales can be an amazing profession with tremendous opportunities for the right person. When done properly sales means being of service and providing value to the customer. It deserves much more respect as a career choice than it gets.

To my point, however, you actually are a salesperson. From the day you were born and learned how to get someone’s attention, you’ve been persuading somebody to do something. I know, I know – that’s not what you mean when you say you’re uncomfortable selling yourself. Let me suggest you look at it a bit differently by sharing a story with you.

My “sales” experience began with my very first job interview. Since then, there is not a day that’s gone by in my 25+ year career when I have not had to sell something – an idea, a promise, a product, or myself.

Back then, I had dropped out of college (gasp!) and moved in with a boy (double gasp!). After which my parents, quite understandably, told me I was on my own.

Realizing I had to find a job quickly, I answered an ad in the newspaper (yes, I am positively ancient!) for a secretary at an insurance agency. Panic set in a few days later when I got a call to come in to meet the broker. Panic, because I had never, ever been on a formal interview before.

The business was in an ancient office building that hadn’t modernized at all. As soon as I crossed the threshold the office manager escorted me past a switchboard to a typewriter and gave me a full-page document. As she stood there, stop-watch in hand, she said, “Tell me when you’re ready…”  

I had a moment’s pause, then began. I completed the timed test with a whopping 29 words per minute. Not bad for someone who didn’t know how to type, but not the 50 wpm the job required. All I could think was, “I need a job, how do I salvage this?”

Confidence is the Key to Selling Yourself in a Job Search

The office manager gave me a scowl, and was ready to escort me out the door. But I stopped and said, “I know my typing is slow, but I’m sure I can improve quickly. What are the other requirements of the job?” She shared a few details, and I asked a few more questions. At this point, we were in the hall and the broker overheard the exchange. He asked me to step into his office, we chatted, and he hired me on the spot. A few months later when I asked him why, he said that he liked my questions, appreciated my persistence and needed someone who was a good communicator. Within a few weeks, I had met the job requirement of 50 wpm. 

I knew when I applied for the job that I didn’t meet all of the qualifications, but I met most of them. At the time, I was thinking, “I have nothing to lose here,” and that actually gave me confidence. 

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I took the lesson with me and never forgot it: If you can convince an employer you have what they need MOST, your deficiencies will be overlooked. 

Selling, done well, is being persuasive by telling your truth and putting your very best self forward. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but on reflection it was quite obvious. It was enough to be my real, authentic self, own my weaknesses, and emphasize my strengths.

Selling Yourself is Nothing More than Acting “As If”

Getting comfortable selling yourself is an essential component of career growth. Research has shown that when we act “as if” we already have a quality we desire, or “as if” we are already in a role we’d like to have, our brain adapts and doesn’t know the difference. Those of you who are parents may relate to those first few times you had to make a parenting decision with your first child. Did you have 100{4a5ad76f65b30f840b7cce0bd60a9460fa539274379d86674e661d46b250fd7a} confidence you were doing the right thing? Just the opposite! But we all know as parents we have to act “as if” we know what we’re doing, right? You’ve got to sell it!

The same thing is true in your job search. Once I see a client embrace their inner salesperson – that’s when we begin to see results! And, by the way, the boy? We’ll be married for 35 years in June. And college? Finished that, and master’s degree too. Which just proves we don’t always know the ending to our own story, but with a bit of confidence and making friends with the idea of selling ourselves, we can influence the results! If you need to polish your own story or need some help getting comfortable selling yourself, give me a call. I can help!