Can You Self-Promote Too Much?

A few months ago I wrote a piece: Donald Trump Gives A Bad Name to Self-Promotion.  It was well received at the time, of course anything mentioning Donald Trump this past spring got traffic but it also raised the very important question of when is self-promotion – too much?

Donald Trump once said: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado.  I play to people’s fantasies.  People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do.  That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.”

Whether it be in sales or a job search it is imperative for the individual to be confident and give the impression that there is no one that can provide you the product or service better than he can as well as that person who is applying for a job who must give the impression that there is no neeed to look any further than yours truly.

Though every recruiter or search committee is looking for an individual who can fit in and be a “team player,” don’t be fooled by such a collaboration mindset – companies and associations are looking for leaders and not necessarily those who just get along.  Teams are important in the efficient and effective operation of an entity, but it always get down to someone still having to make the final decision.

An individual, and not a team has the ultimate responsibility and to that end recruiters and search committees must find the right personality that can work together in a group, but is not freightened away from taking accountability for the decision and direction that ultimately will be neeeded to be made for the organization.

But before you are granted the opportunity to make those tough decisions you must get the attention of the recruiter or search committee.  How do you stand out amongst the crowd without looking arrogant or too blustery?  Promotion is vital but does there come a point of having your credibility questioned by too much self promotion?

Any salesman will tell you that a sale is not a sale until after the close and you get the signature for the order.  The same can be said for a candidate who is selling himself for consideration for the job at hand.  You need to show your uniqueness, your exceptionalism and most importantly why you are the only candidate for this position.  I guess if that is arrogance – then so be it!

No one has ever backed themselves into a job, meaning if you can’t articulate why you are the right person for this particular job – no reference or network will ever make it happen.  I have seen it happen too many times where candidates are too timid and not their best promoter. More often than not they don’t get the appointment or the sale because they will run into a competitor who is much better in defining the value proposition than they are.

In a buyer’s market, which is an understatement for today job market you need to pull out every argument and every advantage you can find.  You need to come into every interview with both guns blasting and you also need to have reference after reference prepared to sing your glory.  In today’s job market there is nothing known as overkill.

Please don’t take the encouragement of self-promotion as granting permission for untruths or being obnoxious.  Never, never lie in an interview or a resume.  Besides the fact that it is unethical (some cases even illegal), you will get caught in your lies.  Background checks and the simple process of Google will determine the appropriateness of a candidate for a job.  For some reason we have seen an onslaught of coaches recently who have been fired, literally after just being hired for padding their resumes (remember George O’Leary and Notre Dame).  I reiterate, never, never lie.

It does all come down to a standard that you, as a job candidate must attest to.  Donald Trump might call it a little hyperbole, but others might call it an exaggeration while political candidates might just ultimately call it an unfortunate misspeak.  You are responsible for what you say and what you provide a recruiter or search committee.  Don’t attest to something that you might regret in the future and which can easily be vetted and verified.

No position is worth ruining your career for, even in today’s abysmal job market.  Self-promotion is necessary to procure the job you desire.  If you don’t provide the whole picture of your career no one ever will.  However, be careful that your self-promotion is fact based and something that you can take to church with you. Remember, Mom is always watching!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.


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