Modesty Can Be Seen As Weakness!


A client of mine shared with me the experience of his recent job interview. Ken (not his real name) is a Ph.D. scientist with an impressive body of work within the pharmaceutical industry. He sat in my office lamenting the fact that he didn’t get the hoped-for job offer.

From my first meeting with Ken as his career consultant, his resume needed little editing, reflecting coaching received a few years prior. He learned of this position through a recruiter and an interview was set up fairly quickly. He didn’t get the offer, however, and came to me to debrief. Ken chatted before me in quiet disappointment. In my years of coaching I was unprepared for his insightful conclusion to the matter…

“I think I was too modest,” he surmised.


What makes you buy that new dishwasher? Lawn mower? Car? More to the point, how likely are you to buy something that does NOT meet your specified needs? The hiring manager (the buyer, if you will) is shopping. For whatever reason that marketing director, or IT specialist, or administrative assistant, or sales trainer left the company, as examples – the company is now shopping. What will make them ‘pluck you off the shelf’ and fit you into that slot?

Because you’re selling a product – You! – the resume needs to deliver on what the product has to offer in the form of an Accomplishments-Driven document of Measurable Results. This is where many of us tend to struggle, especially if we’re in a support position or in a process-driven job. Having accomplishments isn’t exclusive to metrics-driven roles such as sales or marketing people. A manufacturing technician once contended with me that he ‘didn’t do anything’ when I asked about his accomplishments. I challenged him with, “You came in every day; you sat in a chair; they gave you a check; and you went home?!”

Of course he DID something! Even though he was very much part of the process (calibrating the production lines that make the product) – everyday he affected the company’s ability to impact the bottom line. It’s imperative that he have a resume that not only details his knowledge as a technician, but showcases his finesse, his ability to anticipate difficulty, his problem-solving skills in the face of that difficulty. How did he make the process better because he was there?

Once the resume opens the door to face time with a decision-maker, you must now convey the person on that paper to the decision-maker’s ears. Too many of us view sharing our accomplishments negatively under the huge misnomer of bragging. What a sad mistake!

** Are you bragging when you recommend a skillful contractor who doesn’t price-gouge? (What a find!)

** Are you bragging when you encourage friends to try out that new restaurant where you had that great meal?

** You’ve made a profit with a new stock and want to let your friends in on this discovery – is this bragging?

Bragging implies conceit or arrogance… an elevating of oneself to put the other person down. Look at what I have; you don’t have it. Look at what I own; you don’t own it. Look at what I do, you can’t do it. Bragging is an opportunity to put the other person down.

That’s not what’s going on when sharing your accomplishments in the job search. Your accomplishment stories convey your value. Your accomplishments stories say, “Look at how I’ve impacted companies throughout my career. I can do that for you.” That is, after all the bottom line. Employers hire people who effectively demonstrate their value in meeting the employer’s needs. Within the context of the job search, modesty can be seen as weakness.

Certainly there could have been any number of factors contributing to my client, Ken, not getting the job offer. With what he had to offer in terms of an excellent resume that got his foot in the door, his assessment of why he didn’t get the job is more than likely accurate: he was just too darn modest!

What about you? Would YOU hire you?


Source by Charlene Holsendorff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *