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Managing the Message in Your Job Search

By Wendy Gelberg

"I'm [name of political candidate], and I approve this message."

We've heard that refrain hundreds of times every election season and, while we may be sick of hearing it, it serves an important purpose. It reminds us of the key points that the candidates want to be sure we remember as we decide whether to vote for - or hire - them. There's a lesson for introverts - and all job seekers - in that strategy.

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The candidate who doesn't air such messages (and then sign off on them publicly) allows the opponent to define voters' impressions. That clearly puts the candidate at a disadvantage.

The lesson for introverts is the importance of defining our own message in the job search, which by our very nature we are often reluctant to do. We're often uncomfortable promoting ourselves, and we tend to downplay our accomplishments, believing our work speaks for itself. It doesn't.

The qualities that frequently describe us - reserved manner, cool detachment, lack of participation - are often misinterpreted as aloofness, snobbishness, or lack of interest or enthusiasm.

If we don't set the record straight by clearly communicating what we believe others need to know about us, these false impressions will stand.

Define Your Value, Your Message

Managing your message doesn't mean bragging. It means recognizing and communicating the value you bring to your employer.

What kind of contribution do you make to the organization? Do you:

  • Streamline operations?
  • Bring in more customers?
  • Increase revenue?
  • Reduce costs?
  • Improve employee morale?
  • Decrease production errors?

This is by no means a complete list of all of the possibilities!  Think of times you have been recognized or thanked by management or co-workers for a something you did, even if it didn't seem particularly difficult for you to do. We are often poor judges of our own contributions and value, so consider what is praised in your performance reviews or how people describe you when they introduce you to someone ("She is our go-to person for any questions about Microsoft Office" for example).

Once you've identified the kind of contribution, you can provide examples. Sharing your success stories isn't boasting. You're owning your accomplishments and owning your message. And the way you do this is simply by reporting the facts as they occurred and the specific role you played.

Bottom Line:

Remember, nature abhors a vacuum. Define and communicate what others need to know about you so they don't define the message for you.


About the author...

Wendy Gelberg is a Career Navigator at JVS CareerSolution in Boston and author of The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career. She is a certified career coach and resume writer whose expertise is in helping people who are uncomfortable "tooting their own horn." Wendy writes resumes, gives workshops, coaches individuals, and writes articles and blogs on all aspects of the job search process. Samples of her resumes and career advice appear in over 20 books. Wendy has been a career coach and resume writer for over 15 years. She has been an introvert her whole life. Contact Wendy at wgelberg@careersolution.org.


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