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Finding Your Voice: Why Women Have a Hard Time Touting Their Accomplishments and How to Overcome It

Picture this scenario. You have just finished your second degree. You did your courses online and completed your coursework during your free time, often turning down invitations so you could get your papers in on schedule. You sacrificed sleep and weekends to ensure you gave it your all and were rewarded by graduating with the highest honors. You proudly display your diploma on your wall where you can see it. You celebrated your big win with your loved ones, who are all proud of you. However, you have not informed the people that count careerwise - your employers. Even though you have shared the news with some of your colleagues with whom you are friendly, you are having a hard time indicating to higher ups that you have new skills that will benefit the company. Does this sound familiar? If you are a woman, it probably does. Why do we have such a hard time promoting ourselves? It is hard enough to move up the ladder regardless of what business you are in without adding to the problem. Men have it easier; they back each other up, playing golf together (where many deals are likely hatched), drinking scotch or martinis after, and have what is known as "the boys club." Unfortunately, women executives don't always treat up-and-comers supportively. It was hard for them to get to the top level; they figure other women should be willing to put in the time and effort they did.

So, where does this leave someone who wants to advance in their career? You have to learn to be your own cheerleader. For many, self-promotion is equal to bragging, but is it? No, it is not. The main difference is that self-promotion can be supported by facts, whereas bragging usually inflates something beyond reality. If you are a "Seinfeld" fan like me, you will remember the character, Kenny Bania. In one memorable episode, he brags about how big he has gotten since he started working out "Yeah, I'm huge!" Arnold Schwarzenegger he was not, but that did not stop him from tooting his own horn. Men usually have no problem inflating the truth, but women, on the other hand, can't seem to make a statement about something genuinely remarkable they have accomplished. If someone else points it out, they might become embarrassed (I fit into that category.) Yes, I have difficulty discussing the good things I have done, and I am working on it. That is why I decided to write this blog. I wanted to share some of what I have researched to help me step out of my comfort zone.

  • Point out how your accomplishments can be an asset to the boss and the company. If you focus on the way you can better serve others, it won't be all about you. As women, we are used to being caregivers, often putting others ahead of ourselves. Using this approach will make it seem less braggy.

  • Update your resume/CV. Okay, this one is very subtle, but if you hand it to your boss saying, "I needed to update my CV because (fill-in-the-blank), and I wanted to make sure I gave you a copy to put in my file. Don't miss the opportunity to highlight your value! Unless your superior is a complete ass (and I have worked for a few of them) they will take a look and will likely ask your what the updates are. Be prepared with answers because it is likely they will have questions.

  • Go to company meetings and pipe up! If you have something to say, say it! That doesn't mean you commandeer the conference (although I have seen that work), but let your co-workers know you are a team player that wants everyone to succeed. If you have an idea, you think would save time and money, make sure you voice it. If it is not accepted as a doable idea during the meeting, let it go, don't force it. You have contributed. If the proposal truly has merit, ask to have a private meeting with your supervisor where you can lay out the reasons why it can work. Ensure you are thoroughly prepared, so you are not wasting anyone's time. If they are still not interested after you have made your presentation, thank them for the time. Please do not take it as rejection or a personal slight. There are probably factors involved that you are not privy to (such as their boss won't go for it.) A good supervisor will note that you are invested and will likely tell you they appreciate that you are trying to help the company succeed.

I hope my suggestions help. Remember, stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy. If you need to take baby steps, it's okay, at least you are moving forward. You are a unique, capable individual who has many wonderful qualities. Do not be afraid to let yourself shine. I want to end with a quote from Nelson Mandela, "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

Shine on, baby!

Please feel free to offer comments, good or bad—your opinion matters to me.

If you need help (we all do) in overcoming your fear of self-promotion, reach out to me at

Remember, be resolved in everything you do.


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