Afraid to Sell Yourself?

Afraid to Sell Yourself?

by Marty Nemko
Monster Contributing Writer

Most of the best jobs go to people who will ask, "Do you know someone who can hire someone like me?" to virtually anyone: old friends, your hairdresser, the person sitting next to you at a professional meeting, a decision maker at your dream employer, etc.

Alas, many job seekers would rather have a colonoscopy than ask people for job leads. The good news is you can get over the fear of selling yourself.

Are any of the following predicaments halting your ability to network? Try our solutions:

Cause 1: You're not sure what sort of job you're looking for.

Solution: One approach is to scan the index of the Occupational Outlook Handbook or even the Yellow Pages to learn more about hundreds of the most popular careers.

Sometimes, however, despite using those resources, you're still not sure what job you're looking for. If this is the case, develop a one-sentence pitch that highlights your two or three best skills. For example: "I'm looking for a position that uses my ability to manage projects and my knowledge of horticulture."

Cause 2: You fear you're not worthy of being hired.

Solution: Sure, it could be a self-esteem issue and, in fact, you are a giant among giants, but you could be right. Maybe you don't deserve to be hired. Ask yourself whether you need more training, or even if you're in the wrong line of work.

Cause 3: You don't want to impose.

Solution: First, recognize that the person you're calling is a grown-up and can say no. Perhaps more important is the karma concept: All of us need help at some point. As long as we promise ourselves to be helpful when someone asks us for help, there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Besides, you're not asking for a handout. You're asking for a little advice about where you might find work. Who knows? You might even be the answer to that person's prayers. And remember, many people won't resent your query at all -- they feel good about being asked for advice.

Cause 4: You're afraid you might sound awkward or stupid.

Solution: Write a script pitching yourself. For example, "I'm an associate at a prestigious law firm, but I am tired of the contentiousness. I'd like to use my knowledge of employment law and ability to work well with people to find a place in an HR department. I know someone who works at your company and loves it, so I figured I'd give you a call."

You should also script answers to any questions you're afraid you might be asked. For example, "What were you doing during those two years of unemployment?" Practice your script until you can paraphrase it naturally. You might also ask a trusted friend to help you rehearse a cold call to a potential employer.

Cause 5: None of the above, just a vague anxiety about selling yourself.

Solution: Don't overhype yourself. Don't be stuffy. Be natural. Be revealing without sounding like a basket case. Tell the truth in a human way, and at least one employer -- a well-suited employer -- will resonate with you. Most employers are sick of dealing with candidates who exaggerate, kiss up or even lie to them.