How to “sell yourself” professionally (even if you hate the idea)

We walk into the interview room, sweating in our most conservative business suits, with the goal of showing our monetary value to a company. So many times we have been told we must "sell yourselves." We may have even been told to think of ourselves as a “product.”

Ew, gross.

What if you hate the idea of “selling yourself” in order to find a satisfying career? What if you find shameless self-promotion uncomfortable, unethical, or downright sleazy? Read on to learn 5 ways to rethink and reframe “selling yourself,” while keeping your self-respect intact.

  1. Sell your passion. I have a soft-spoken friend who is never one to brag, but who talks confidently about allergy awareness, because her child has experienced life-threatening allergic reactions. Think of your career focus as your passion. Look for others who have the same focus, and set your sights on sharing your passion with them.
  2. Sell your expertise. We are in awe of those who are experts in areas we know little about. Use your expertise as your selling point, and it will come naturally. If you think you aren’t an expert, trust me—to the outside world, you know more about your field than you think.
  3. Sell your history. In one interview, I was asked the question, “what can you bring to this role that others can’t?” After some thought, I replied that I was most qualified to convert the organization’s LEAST enthusiastic supporters. I had once been a disbelieving cynic myself, and I knew exactly what had changed my own opinion. There may be hundreds of applicants for a job, but you are the only one that has your own particular history.
  4. Sell your best quality. Sometimes people who absolutely hate self-promotion have the exact qualities employers are looking for—attention to detail, strong work ethic, or excellent interpersonal skills. Highlight your perceptive ability to notice what others miss, or your gift for putting fellow introverts at ease, or whatever quality is your best.
  5. Sell your conviction. In your life as well as your career, you have conviction about what is right, just, and true. Use this conviction as a selling point. Employers are looking for people with integrity. If you believe in what the company is about, show it.

Selling yourself is shorthand for selling what you are passionate about, what makes you unique, and what you believe in. THAT is your true “product.”