Embracing Self-Advocacy in Your Career Development

Talking about myself used to be my greatest weakness. I was afraid that if I mentioned my accomplishments offline or online, it would be viewed as bragging. The stigma around self-promotion often makes folks feel uncomfortable advocating for themselves. We may fear that others will perceive us as arrogant or narcissistic, which could damage our relationships or professional reputation.

Over time I learned that the fear of self-advocacy was holding me back personally and professionally. There were so many opportunities I missed because I didn’t put myself out in front of others.

To help others break down this stigma, especially, current and former academics, I wrote a brief article on the topic. Why should you embrace self-advocacy in your professional career?

Self-Advocacy Builds Relationships

Some people are fortunate to have a strong network, this is not always the case. In many ways, when your network is small, you have no other choice than to be your biggest advocate. How can people know what you do or can do, if you don’t loudly tell others?

Engaging in self-advocacy can help you expand your network over time. As you confidently communicate your skills and interests, people within your current network may introduce you to others who share similar interests or could benefit from your expertise.

Even in a small network, self-advocacy can lead to increased support from those around you. Friends, colleagues, or mentors may offer assistance, advice, or resources that can help you achieve your goals.

Self-Advocacy and Interviewing

As the job market gets more tight and competitive, you have to deal with the fact that others will advocate for themselves. Interviews are often competitive, and many candidates might possess similar qualifications. Being your biggest advocate gives you a competitive edge, helping you differentiate yourself and leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

No one knows your skills, experiences, and accomplishments better than you do. Being your own advocate allows you to confidently showcase your strengths and unique qualifications, ensuring that the interviewer gets a clear understanding of your potential contributions.

If you don’t feel confident about the interview process, practice. In other post I wrote quite extensively about informational interviews, use this informal interview format to reach out to folks on LinkedIn and learn about what they do.

How To Humble and Advocate For Yourself

If you get the feeling that you’re “bragging,” that means you’re self-aware. Walk the line between arrogance and healthy self-advocacy by letting your accomplishments and achievements speak for themselves. Present concrete examples and data that showcase your skills and contributions.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to shout out to others who helped you along the way. Express gratitude for the opportunities you have had and the support you’ve received. Acknowledge the role of mentors, colleagues, and others who have helped you along the way.

If you have worked at role that was cooperative, acknowledge the contributions of others and give credit where it’s due. Highlight how your collaborative efforts led to successful outcomes.

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