The key to marketing yourself for your executive job search is balancing self-promotion and humility. But when it comes to personal branding and messaging, many executives downplay their strengths and successes and find active expression of individual achievements somewhat awkward and unnatural. They are more comfortable including basic facts and figures on their resumes, yet employers need a cohesive narrative to connect the dots and recognize value.
Compounding the aversion to self-promotion is a respected character trait on the leadership spectrum — humility — which can seem at odds with tooting one’s own horn too vigorously. While projecting humility is an admirable quality — employees who perceive altruism from their managers tend to be more engaged and innovative — effectively translating business value into words is paramount when positioning yourself for your next role. The job market is far too fast-moving and competitive for hiring executives to interpret a candidate’s restraint as anything other than a direct reflection of leadership ability and performance.
In my latest article for Forbes—“How to Balance Hype and Humility in Your Job Search”—I examine the reasons many senior leaders struggle to promote themselves, including:
- They are focused on the aggregate effort
- They are cautious in the delivery of their communications
- They are already at the top of the pyramid
I also provide examples of how to self-promote without broadcasting arrogance. Marketing yourself both effectively and authentically is an exercise in balance. If you are too self-aggrandizing, you run the risk of transmitting arrogance and a contrived narrative. On the other hand, if you’re too reticent, you potentially engage in self-sabotage, underselling yourself and downplaying your stature, influence and worth.
Gravitas can be portrayed in career marketing documents when done correctly through discerning content selection, word choice, writing style and voice. The key is to remain fact-based while expressing leadership strengths and impact.