Originally published on ForbesWomen through Ellevate
What’s one reason women don’t get ahead in their careers? It’s not for lack of expertise or experience. It’s that they don’t market themselves and their achievements.
Time and again, women we work with say it’s easier to talk about the accomplishments of others than their own.
Think about it. How often do you prop up amazing things others have done — whether it’s your colleague’s book getting published, your sister’s promotion, or your friend’s business launch? But you hide your own accomplishments from the world.
Sound like you? If you’re returning to the workforce after a break, pivoting careers, furloughed, or laid off (an all-too-common reality for women these days), being able to promote yourself is a must-have skill.
Where are you right now as we enter 2021? Are you struggling to feel valued in your job? Hoping for a raise? Job searching? Thinking of starting a business? Getting comfortable with taking pride in your achievements and sharing them with others will boost your confidence and get you farther, faster.
After all, it’s no secret that self-promotion is linked to career advancement. If you can speak compellingly about your accomplishments, you’ll have a better chance of being hired/promoted, getting a raise, or making a career leap.
No one teaches us to promote ourselves. In fact, conventional gender stereotypes call for women to be understated rather than “show-offy.” And studies show that women don’t self-promote as much as men. Why?
According to research, when women are assertive about their skills, they're liked less, which impacts their self-esteem. Many girls are given the message that in order to be accepted, they need to keep their accomplishments to themselves. And this can be soul-crushing and damaging for their future careers.
On top of that, women often lack the vocabulary to speak positively about their professional achievements.
It’s no wonder we shy away from self-promotion. But we can learn to “brag” in a way that feels good to us. Grow it like any other skill in our professional toolbox. And we're the only one responsible for our career success.
Let’s turn bragging into a positive — a way to own your value and make your knowledge, skills, and aspirations known. (Doing a good job won’t get us to the next level if no one knows about it!)
Wherever you are in your career journey, here are three steps to brag bravely and take pride in your expertise in a way that will engage others.
When you’re in a career transition, it’s easy to forget all the amazing things you’ve done. Take inventory!
Start by aligning past achievements with your current goals, then think about being proud, not bragging. For example:
When I was at ___ company I was proud of…
Or if you’re working on a project that positions you for a career pivot:
This week, I was really pleased with ___ outcome.
Better yet — ask the other person what they’re proud of, too, so it’s a conversation. In this way, self-promotion becomes a benefit to others, too.
Feel like it’s hard to tap older networks? Use sharing your accomplishments as a jumping-off point to renew connections. When you make “bragging” a way to share what you’re excited about, it gives the other person an opening to help you.
Only when others know what you’re capable of can they figure out the best way to support your goals. Ask questions such as:
Do you have any feedback? Do you know anyone else I should connect with?
Make it a habit! Like any new skill, it takes time and practice to grow your self-promotion muscle. If talking about yourself isn’t your strength, adopt a growth mindset, and know you can grow at any age or stage.
Start by sharing with yourself first. Write down one professional accomplishment each week. Then share with one person in your network who you know is rooting for you to succeed.
Practice this with all your wins, big and small.
If you get comfortable with “bragging,” you’ll make it easier for the next woman to do it. And then you’re bravely changing the game for all women.