The fine line between bragging and highlighting your qualities

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up” – Muhammad Ali.

People who succeed in the workplace and business understand the need to sell their skills and qualities in the best possible way. Not only must you be able to walk the walk, you have to be able to talk the talk, but all-out bragging can seem to be a crass exercise in self-promotion. Being able to state clearly what you are capable of and supporting it with examples is not bragging – it is highlighting your qualities. It’s knowing how to state these features with tact that makes the difference though.

Modesty and humility – while being seen to be great character traits – won’t necessarily help you to present yourself as the best possible person for the job, unless you’re applying to become a monk, of course! One of the traps that is easy to fall into is to understate your achievements and capabilities, on the mistaken premise that people will appreciate your modesty. If you can’t present your qualities to others, you cannot expect others to do it for you. 

On the flip side, nobody likes the brash overconfident bragger who seems to have done everything faster, higher and stronger than everybody else. Knowing where the line is between bragging and constructively highlighting your abilities can make all the difference when applying for a new job or a promotion. Being confident in your abilities and being able to say so is the key to highlighting your qualities.

While it is really important to highlight your qualities effectively, it can help to be mindful of how you use the terms I, me and we. Careful use of the word ‘we’ can present you as a team player who knows the value of others. When you have achieved something specific, you need to be able to say that you have, but it needs to be supported with some facts.

”I am a fast worker” means nothing; whereas, “I worked with XYZ Company who expected that we process 23 units per hour. I was able to consistently exceed that level by ten percent” gives clear quantifiable data that can be supported if necessary.

One of the keys to being able to highlight your qualities is to have confidence in your abilities and really know your strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. Employers don’t expect you to know everything. If you understand where your strengths are, you can confidently highlight those areas.

There is nothing wrong with being confident in your own abilities, nor is there anything wrong with being able to tell people what you are good at. Perhaps one of the keys to highlighting your qualities is to let your passion for your career choice shine through. Let people see your passion, and what you want to be. This is the best form of self-promotion, rather than citing a list of achievements and qualifications, talking about what you want to achieve, and why, is going to highlight your qualities in a much more positive fashion, that people are more likely to remember. 

The CFS Team
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