Don’t End Up As A “Corporate Idol” Reject

As the recession keeps grinding along and unemployment continues to rise, many out-of-work individuals are pounding the pavement competing for jobs in an saturated market, learning the lessons of how to “market” oneself.

But are some people taking self-marketing too far?

According to the Wall Street Journal,

“When it comes to self-promotion in the workplace, hiring managers say some people go too far and block their path to the next level. You might call them the corporate world’s “American Idol” wannabes. Like many contestants on the reality TV show who extol the greatness of their singing abilities and then end up sent home, corporate idols sing praises about their abilities without delivering tangible evidence to back up the claims.

And recruiters and employers say they’re seeing the behavior more frequently in the current bad economy, as some candidates try harder to impress interviewers and workers go out of their way to hang on to their jobs.”

I don’t find this particularly surprising since I’ve written before about studies that show 65% of workers overestimate their abilities. Now that many of these employees, who were previously coasting along at jobs where they were underperforming, are seeking new careers, many hiring managers are seeing a glut of folks who talk a good game but have problems delivering.

So how do you effectively market yourself without turning an interview off? Examples, Examples, Examples!

Meghan McCormick offers some sound advice on how to really impress an interviewer:

“My biggest strategy was to be over prepared. Before I went in, I made sure that I knew the company’s mission, understood the job description, and more importantly, I was prepared to show off my skills and how they would help the company achieve its goals.

In my interview, I brought my portfolio, showed the team my blog, and described how my work on previous projects had prepared me to take on the position I was interviewing for. I brought crisp resumes and an “about me” page that included a brief description about myself and links to my blog, twitter, and LinkedIn profile.”

I recall one particular interview where the candidate went on and on about how well she knew the Microsoft Excel program. But when my boss asked her about specific functions and features of the program it became clear that the candidate really didn’t know Excel as well as she claimed. My boss was not impressed.

Later that same afternoon the recruiter who referred this candidate called my boss to complain that this was a qualified candidate and to exclaim “how can you reject someone for not knowing an Excel function?!” My boss’ answer was something along the lines of:

“If she’s making false claims about her expertise in Excel, what else is she making false claims about?”

A good company will always be impressed by results, not by how attractively they are packaged. Accurately describing or demonstrating to interviewers exactly what results you achieved and how you achieved them will put your miles ahead of the competition.

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: You Have the Power » Blog Archive » Act For Justice » Selecting Staff For the Organizational Unit

  2. Great advice as usual. I’ll take this into consideration for my next interview.

    I actually had the opposite problem. I was raised to be a humble person. I like humble people, and I can’t stand overly egotistical people. However, an interview often becomes all about you. If you don’t tell them that you are good for this job, then they will hire someone who presents a better case.

    It took me a while to state my own praises at all. I still find this to be a bad thing as I feel that if someone is overly egotistical they will suffer for it in the end.

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