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If you’re looking for a job…

I saw this article in the Denver Business Journal and wanted to share it with all of you who are looking for a job.

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By Aimee Cohen

What is one of the first things we’re taught as kids? That it’s not polite to brag.

Well, that lesson may have served us in the sandbox and on the playground, but it doesn’t serve us in a highly competitive job market. By not tooting your own horn, you’re sabotaging your job search. A hiring manager won’t read between the lines, guess what you’re trying to say or drag the information out of you.

If you want to stand out from the millions of other job seekers and get noticed, you must be able to sell yourself and be confident in telling your success story. It’s not always the most qualified candidate who gets the job; it’s the one who delivers the best presentation.

The greatest challenge job seekers face is the issue of confidence, not competence. As unemployment numbers rise, and job opportunities decline, both men and women battle with insecurity, self-doubt and fear. However, confidence is a more natural trait for men, while women struggle with being perceived unkindly if they exude too much confidence.

Men are more comfortable singing their own praises, highlighting their accomplishments and telling their success stories. Women tend to overly share credit for achievements, downplay their contributions and diminish their value to the organization. Regardless of your gender, when the stakes are high and the competition even higher, everyone could benefit from a boost in confidence and a lesson on self-promotion.

Self-promotion is easier said than done, and probably violates the Emily Post manual of good manners and proper etiquette. But people must at least try.

The best example of someone very comfortable promoting himself is Donald Trump. If he walks into a room, in the first five minutes you know how much money he has, what skyscraper he’s building and the names of all his famous friends. One of the biggest reasons why this level of self-promotion seems so effortless is because Donald Trump is a brand, not just a person.

Creating a professional brand and a marketing strategy for yourself is one of the most effective and successful strategies for tooting your own horn in a competitive job market. Here are the top five steps to mastering the art of self-promotion.

• Think of yourself in the third person — It’s much easier to promote something or someone when you’re not emotionally attached to it. If you could see yourself as others see you, what skills shine the brightest? Objectively identify this person’s strengths, accomplishments and ability to provide value to the right organization, then market that person as you would a product or service.

• Identify your soundbites — Soundbites are the statistics of your success. For example, you increased revenue by 48 percent in one year, managed 12 employees, delivered a $75 million project on time and under budget, and received the prestigious “Employee of the Year” award. Let the statistics, numbers and awards do the bragging for you.

• Know how you want to be perceived — Perception is reality, and that’s especially true in the job-search process. Do others describe you as the “go-to” person, the “industry expert” or the “must have” team member? It’s much easier to say, “At my last organization, I was known as the Energizer Bunny. I have tons of energy, ideas and stay until the job is done.”

Decide what distinguishes you from the competition, and leverage that positive reputation in the job market.

• Claim your area of expertise — Identify what you do better than anyone else in the world and claim it. Everyone wants to hire “the best.” Be the best at something, and speak comfortably and confidently about the specific talent you have to offer. A competitive job market isn’t the time to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Instead, be the master.

• Practice and preparation make perfect — In order to improve your ability to sell yourself, you must prepare early and practice often. Write down what you want to say and practice saying it in front of a mirror or while driving. The goal isn’t to memorize the information, but to internalize it so eventually it sounds natural and convincing. It may be painful in the beginning, it may sound awkward and feel uncomfortable, but self-promotion truly is the key to success.

Old lessons die hard, but with practice and preparation, you can learn how to sell yourself and achieve your career goals. No one else can interview for you, and if you have one chance to convince the hiring manager you’re the best fit for the position, what are you going to say?

Instead of downplaying, dismissing or minimizing your accomplishments, proudly be the leader of the whole band, and let the world know what beautiful music you have to offer.