Understanding why self-promotion is frowned upon.

Most people are uncomfortable blowing their own trumpet.  There is something instinctual about not wanting to boast about things that we are particularly good at. We are taught at a very young age that this is not an attractive thing to do. However, it is important, especially today that we know how to show off our best skills and qualities, even those that highlight how good we are at playing at an online casino.   So how do we do this without seeming arrogant?

We should take pride in our accomplishments and experts say that it should be normal to highlight our skills and qualities and it shouldn’t be taboo.  Letting people know how skilled you are is important when searching for jobs, or within your current workplace if you are looking to move up the ladder.   Knowing how to promote yourself is an advantage.

The need to sell yourself has probably never been quite so important.  The pandemic has caused huge changes to take place for businesses.   Some groups have been particularly hard hit.   For example, women who at the best of times have a hard time self-promoting.   Homeworkers may also struggle with this as they are not in a position to meet their managers face to face and this could impact negatively on their careers.

According to Stephanie Sword-Williams who wrote the book “F-ck Being Humble: Why self-promotion isn’t a dirty word”, “If we don’t invest the time in demonstrating our value, we run the risk of not being considered as ‘needed’.   The content you put out about yourself is what you will be known for – so it’s essential that you control the narrative.”

In the new world of today, the way in which we promote ourselves could have a real impact on whether we succeed in the workplace or not.   It behooves us to overcome our feelings of reticence and learn to highlight our skills properly. This is something we are all able to do.

The gender gap when it comes to self-promotion

At its most basic, self- promotion is when you bring to the attention of others your work and accomplishments.  It could be something you share on your Instagram, or on your Linkedln, or a conversation that you have with an important business associate.  Whatever it is, it is highlighting your particular skills or successes in order to promote yourself.   It is important for everyone, no matter where you are on the work ladder.

We already know that women struggle with self-promotion and there is evidence to show that men do better in this area.  A 2019 study carried out by academics in the US showed a “large gender gap in this area”.  Those involved in the study took a mathematics and science tests and were asked to rate how they did on the tests and told that this information would be forwarded on to a potential employer who would decide who to employ and how much they should be paid. The results showed that men and women did equally well on the tests. However, men rated themselves better than the women.

According to Annabelle Williams who wrote “Why Women are Poorer than Men – and What We Can Do about It”, “Lots of separate studies show that men tend to ‘boast’ about their achievements when asked, while women tend to under-report their achievements and abilities.”  She goes on to say “When they’re growing up, girls are penalized socially for boasting or behaving assertively.  There are words like ‘diva’, ‘feisty’ and ‘bossy’ that are only really used to describe females, while the same behavior in men is seen as showing confidence and leadership abilities.”

Sword-Williams explains that there are few female role models in top positions that let women know it is okay to highlight our achievements. “As a result, women feel the need to be highly competent in something before they can shout it from the rooftops.  Women also have the ‘disease to please’. So rather than overestimating and under-delivering, they’d rather underestimate and hope they can reach the standard required.”

Of course, there are women that are able to self-promote and there are men who have difficulties doing this.   Younger women also seem to find self-promotion easier than older women.

Make thoughtful self-promotion routine

So, highlighting your skills and achievements can pay off so it is worth practicing it, especially with so many of us now working from home.  It may be more difficult because of the lack of face-to-face contact with business associates or your boss.  However, according to Harriet Minter, “We have to build time for self-promotion into our working schedule’.

Harriet Minter is the author of Working from Home: How to build a career you love when you’re not in the office.  She explains that “If we don’t, we risk becoming out of sight and out of mind.  If it makes it easier, just think of it as keeping people up to date with what you’re doing.  If you were managing someone, you’d want to know what they were doing, right?”

Sword-Williams expresses the same thing when she says ‘Speak to your bosses about how they’d like to be updated on your progress.  Being proactive and providing this information saves them time and also gives you a paper-trail to refer back to for things like performance reviews. The worst thing is sitting around and hoping they’ll have noticed your hard work – so at a time where they can’t physically see it, it’s up to you to remind them.”

You need to practice self-promotion in order to become good at it. Harriet Minter argues that you need to “Make a habit of talking to your boss about your long- term career aspirations. Don’t be put off by the idea that ‘now isn’t a good time’. Instead, look at the value you’ve brought to the company and put your request in those terms.”

Today emails are the best way to let your employers know about your achievements.  Minter suggests that “You can take the time to word it in the best possible way and make sure you include all the detail you want to. See if you can get into the habit of sending at least one a week – the more you do it, the easier it will become.”

If that ‘s a little bit too direct for you, perhaps consider becoming a mentor for those younger work colleagues.  Helping and sharing your skills with those at the very start of their careers is an excellent way of showing your skills and experience.   This activity will also help you to keep in mind your many achievements and be ready to share them with your employer if an opportunity should arise.

Today, having a digital presence is crucial.  People announce their achievements on Linkedln and also Twitter.  The only caveat would be “Just avoid the “#humblebrag’ route,” says Sword-Williams as “It immediately undermines the purpose of self-promotion.”

It may take some time to reframe the way you think about self-promotion.  However, keep at it. According to Sword-Williams it is just like storytelling.  “You just have to decide how you want to tell your story. When we explain how we achieved something, it allows other people to either feel part of the process – or like they could achieve something similar.”

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