Why Stellar Employees Sell Themselves Short in the Job Search

Earlier this month, I had a brief Twitter interaction with Jason Cortel of Leadership XL regarding my post, “Answering ‘How Have You Gone Above and Beyond in Your Work?'” Jason had liked the post and thought the question would be useful to him in his work.

A while later, Recruiting Animal had this to add to the conversation:

Why Doesn't Going Above and Beyond Feel Extraordinary?

I’ve been thinking about what he said ever since. In writing résumés and preparing folks for employment interviews, it’s my job to find the extraordinary that will set my clients apart. And yet, even the star employees I have worked with struggle to articulate their unique value. Why is that?

It goes back to what Recruiting Animal said: “I haven’t. I’ve just done a good job.” People who are really good at what they do don’t rigidly define their roles by what is written in the job description. They do what will get the job done, whatever that means for that particular day. For these folks, nothing they do is extraordinary; it’s just all in a day’s work.

A clear example of this is a story I read last week about a brain surgeon in Alabama who walked six miles in a snowstorm to perform life-saving surgery on a patient in another hospital. I realize that other parts of the country (including Wisconsin, where I live) were hit harder than the southern states, but consider:

  1. This is Alabama. They don’t expect to get snow, so they don’t have all the equipment to handle it. Even a half inch of the white stuff can create problems.
  2. While he was walking to the other hospital, he stopped to push drivers who were stuck in the snow.

But the good doctor’s response to the attention over this story? “I walk a lot so it really wasn’t that big a deal.”

While candidates don’t want to come across as egotistical divas when talking about their accomplishments, not recognizing the times that they put in extra effort does a huge disservice to them.

Does this sound like you? If so, take a look at the times when you had to stay late to get a deliverable to a customer or how you helped someone outside of your area to solve a problem with a project. When you talk about these stories of your career in a job interview and on your résumé in a humble, matter-of-fact way, they make you shine.

Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!

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