Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, May 2018
When I am coaching a job seeker the subject of marketing oneself to employers eventually comes up. Typically, a client bristles at the idea or becomes very anxious. Usually this is because the person confuses promoting their abilities with lying or bragging. “Why can’t I just be honest?” they ask.
Within the context of a job interview, “marketing” means to clearly describe how your abilities match the employer’s needs. It is necessary to edit aspects of your background to provide relevant information.
Relevant information is that which helps the employer to evaluate your skills, experience, educational background, ability to work well with others, reliability, and your enthusiasm for the job.
Tim defined lying in a rigid, black-and-white manner. A statement was either true or false. Additionally, he responded to interview questions from his personal perspective, rather than the employer’s. When asked about his weaknesses, Tim would reply, “my self-confidence is low;” and “I can’t make small talk.”
These were true statements. They were appropriate within the context of our coaching sessions, which involved learning new skills. However, they were not appropriate on a job interview since organizations hire candidates who are confident in their abilities, and who can communicate with colleagues.
Now, when Tim is asked about weaknesses at interviews, he truthfully replies that he can be a perfectionist, but has learned that meeting deadlines is more important than fussing over every detail. In this answer, he applies some marketing savvy by explaining how he manages his weakness so that it wouldn’t interfere with his job performance.
Melanie had difficulty grasping the difference between discussing her accomplishments and being a braggart. She gave very short responses to questions that did not convey her abilities.
A braggart talks about himself in a way that is self-aggrandizing. He may exaggerate his capabilities and present himself as superior. “My superior coding skills and IQ of 135 made me the most outstanding programmer the company ever had” is an example of bragging.
At an interview it is expected that you will describe your capabilities and positive attributes. It is not conceited to say, “I’m skilled at analyzing data about customer buying habits, and was able to predict with 98% accuracy the first quarter sales of a new Widget.” It is effective self-marketing.
If you are new to the interview process, search online for articles that explain the process, or visit your local library. Find someone knowledgeable, who can help you anticipate questions and prepare responses. Be open to feedback about your nonverbal communication. Speaking too quickly or softly, not making eye contact, and not smiling can send a negative message to an interviewer.
Copyright 2018, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching