The art of shameless self-promotion

esteemIt’s appraisal (sorry, “self-development meeting”) time at work and after all the conversations at work about filling out forms listing our good qualities, goals and achievements, it’s got me thinking about the people out there who go unnoticed. I don’t know if it is the British thing of underplaying our talents and feigning bashfulness, but it just seems to me a waste of time and something that is holding so many incredible people from getting the recognition and rewards they deserve for their hard work.

I’m talking about those quite individuals who put in countless extra hours, taken on ridiculous workloads and never get the credit for it because they just brush it under the carpet and fail to point out what they are doing to their superiors. This is great for a while, but soon this extra work and time becomes expected of you and if, or when, you leave the company they will suddenly be in dire straights because they never realised quite how much you contributed. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me as well.

I’ve been this person who gives extra time and effort to a job and have seen how it can go completely unnoticed. I have had friends who have taken on three times their workload when people have suddenly left and have been expected to continue working like this to save the company hiring more staff. It is not fair – but is the company really to blame?


Of course, the company has a duty to its staff to make sure they are happy and that they are getting the support they need in order to work, but if we never speak up how are they supposed to know? How will our bosses ever realise our true workload and the fact that we are struggling to keep up with it, the fact that we have given up on a social life? The short answer is – they don’t! 

The problem is that so many people out there take all this extra work on and although complaining to friends, family and co-workers about it, they never complain or raise their concerns to the people who can actually do something about it! Are we scared to say to our bosses that we do work bloody hard and to list all the extra jobs we take on? Why don’t we say that we deserve more money or more recognition for what we do? And why is it so hard to say when you are overworked and need to lighten your workload?

I guess it’s something to do with fear of failure or worries over what the response might be – especially in the current climate where people are being made redundant and losing their jobs all the time. But this doesn’t mean it is right. I have so many friends who drastically undersell themselves through lack of confidence or just not knowing how to go about it. It is important when you have a meeting with your boss, when writing that CV or in interviews to make sure you sell them the very best version of yourself and to blow your own trumpet because in this world, no-one else is going to do it for you!

loveI’ve always been a firm believer in being aware of your talents and your skills and making others aware by showing them off. Now for those who are getting nervous – I don’t mean showing off by boasting, I mean making it clear what you are capable of and what you are able to take on. Remember you are the only person who is holding you back!

Here are my top tips for showing what you’re worth:

  • If you have no idea where to start, ask a friend/colleague (or your mum) to point out all the things you contribute to the workplace and your particular talents.
  • Make a list of these and practise explaining them to friends and family so that you feel confident saying it to your boss.
  • Keep your CV up-to-date even when you are  in full-time work and make sure to add any skills, first aid courses, management courses etc.
  • When you take on extra work that doesn’t come within your job description, make sure to point it out or keep a list for when you next have a meeting with your boss.
  • Remember the importance of spinning things to your advantage. You could have “sent a few Tweets” or “handled the company’s social media outlets”. Don’t downplay and realise how things sound to both your boss and future employers.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more money or a new job title – if you can lay out all the extra work you do and justify a pay rise to your boss, you are perfectly entitled to ask. You might not get it, but you will make your boss aware of your workload and that you deserve more.

SkillsAndTalentsHave you struggled to blow your own trumpet in the past? How did you overcome this?

8 responses to “The art of shameless self-promotion

  1. I’m not backward in coming forward and I have noticed that I am one of a few that gets recognition…however I really do have to fight for it in both my jobs. Picking up hours at the restaurant when they are in need and then getting denied time off when you really need it is a slap in the face. I do have to say that my current employers are actually the best at recognising us and they do really think of us as a family rather than a workforce but I know that’s a very lucky and rare position to be in. I have found that when taking on extra responsibility, rather than accepting and waiting to be recognised, the BEST way is to make your conditions known before you accept. ‘Yes, I’m happy to take on this, however….’ is my usual start line. Life is a negotiation so make sure you do BEFORE you end up with extra work.

    • You’re so right Vik – it is important to make sure you set your terms before giving in to everybody otherwise it is just expected every time! You’re lucky to work for a company who recognise your hard work – so many are terrible at appreciating their staff putting in extra time! Xxx

  2. You are saying some very sensible and perceptive things here, about the way work is, and the way we respond to it!

    For me, writing, reading, creating are really important to me and I have chosen to take a steady, undemanding job in IT admin so that I can live my real life out of work hours. I still struggle to fit in my creativity, but I feel very lucky that I am able to hide away from the rat race and switch my real life on again when I leave work at 4pm.

    • Thanks Denise! That’s a great way of making sure you have the time to pursue your passions – it must be great to finish work and leave it all behind you.

      • Yes it is great, but I am always aware of the temptation to give and give. I think when you see other people around you giving so much of themselves, it can be hard to detach youself. Maybe it’s not just our identities as people, but our group identity that is caught up in work.

      • You’re so right, I think it’s even harder when you are in a job you love or among a team you like, then you want to give all you can – even if your personal life suffers as a result. It’s definitely not a bad thing, to be a team player, but you have to measure up in your head the importance of the individual vs the collective – at the end of the day, you often don’t gain from working the extra hours, while you gain massively from spending time with relaxing with friends and family.

      • Wise words! The first step to being able to look after other is looking after yourself.

        I find it funny how many people are not team players, and then there are those of us who find it difficult to resist the call of others. It’s all to do with balance – and I think our upbringings probably make us incline one way or the other.

      • I completely agree – a lot of it depends on how we were raised and family relationships. My family are very close and I think that played a big part in the way I am quite a team player, but at the same time i was raised to be quite independent which means I also quite like working alone as well. I think we all have different sides to our working character – perhaps it just depends which we are used to using..

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