An Awkward Girl’s Guide to the Classic Undersell

Sometimes I feel unbearably awkward. I don’t hate people… I’m not even always bad with people. I do, however, have some pretty intense anxiety about new people and situations. Most of these anxieties seem to stem from a hefty dose of insecurity.

In the professional world, my insecurity is a problem. It not only makes me more awkward, but it also causes me to commit a professional world sin: the classic undersell.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Awkward Girl, I’m not a salesperson.” Oh Reader, you are definitely a salesperson… of YOURSELF! When I interviewed for my first summer of internships I definitely undersold myself. My employer told me as much when I finished my internship, I didn’t fairly sell myself in my interview/ application progress.

So I’ve decided to list some tips I’ve developed to be fair to myself and sell myself in professional situations. I’ll be the first to admit that I still don’t always succeed but the tips help.

1. LIST YOUR SKILLS. You have skills even though you don’t remember them in professional situations. Honestly list them out. What makes you a unique candidate? What are you really good at? What experiences have you had that were really beneficial?

Don’t worry about thing directly applying to any specific job at first, just list things. This can be hard, but it’s important to have an honest list of things you can do. Later you can specify this list towards specific things and remember them when you’re in professional settings.

2. REFLECT THOSE SKILLS. Do your professional materials reflect the skills you have listed? Every Resume/CV/Cover Letter that you write should highlight some, if not all, of the skills that you feel you have. Having pieces that make you look good can help your confidence.

But make sure you don’t go too far and stretch the truth of what you can do or have done. You need to be comfortable with your resume in order to be comfortable and confident in an interview.

3. ASK SOMEONE YOU TRUST FOR HELP. If you have a professor or colleague who has experience getting jobs in your field, ask if they will help you out. Whether you have them look at your resume or just talk over what you can expect, their experience is invaluable.

There are also great resources at most universities to help out with career stuff. Check out your Career Center and they will likely have tips for you. Try to be honest about where you struggle the most when you are underselling yourself, they will be able to tell you’re not confident and help you out.

4. DEFEND YOURSELF. Is there someone you know who seems to always get the job? Do you have anyone who you feel like you work harder than? I have some of those people and one of my close friends told me I should try this tip.Pretend that your person is going up for your dream job or internship and defend yourself! Why do you deserve it?

I don’t usually encourage you to compare yourself to others people. Most of the time that is a BAD IDEA. But it helps to get a little angry, because then you want to fight to present your skills, and you don’t undersell yourself. A little competition with a person you know you deserve to beat might boost your confidence.

5. DON’T PSYCH YOURSELF OUT. When you are waiting for an interview don’t psych yourself out. I tend to look around at my competition and think immediately that I’m woefully out of place. By the time I actually gotten to the interview, I consider my case already lost. All the other ones are so smart looking, pretty, tall, experienced, and professional, I think. DON’T DO THAT.

You most likely don’t know anything about your competition. You can’t do anything about them anyways. Focus on you and your list of skills. Remember your successes and take a deep breath.


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