Having met many perfectionists in my years of interviewing, I loved the Harvard Business Review article on Humblebragging.
So did everybody I shared it with.
Of course, when you get asked what your strengths and weaknesses are, everybody wants to present themselves in the best light, so humblebragging seems a subtle way of doing this.
Unfortunately, HR people have heard it all before, so they are very much aware of the difference between highlighting your strengths and false modesty.
Don “I am a little controlling, and somewhat of a perfectionist, which I realised was disempowering my staff, so I worked very hard at delegating. I was so successful that I have delegated my way out of a job, which is why I am now looking for new opportunities”
When you are actively looking for work, how do you shine a light on your skills and accomplishments in a way that the interviewer finds appealing?
Self awareness is not a trait a lot of people have. We all believe we do, but it’s a tough one to accomplish.
It helps in an interview situation, though.
Share a genuine weakness.
“I find it difficult to prioritise, so I have devised all sorts of fun and effective ways to ensure that I get through the urgent work as well as the stuff I really like doing.”
Much more difficult to share strengths and not sound like you are bragging or, heaven forbid, humblebragging.
I have had some great mentors and they have taught me to recognise what I do well. I am good in a pressure situation, able to assess the key issues quickly, and construct workable plans quickly.
My current manager has told me that he really likes the way I handle myself in conflict situations, and his input has helped me to gain skills in this area.
This kind of feedback is clear in terms of the strengths, but also shares the responsibility for the strength.
It can easily fall into humblebragging in the wrong hands, though.
So have some fun with family and friends, practice with them, or in front of a mirror. Ask for honest feedback as to whether you are coming over as capable or as a humblebragger. Then practice some more….
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