Every good salesman knows that you must believe in your product or else be able to do a good job of acting like you do. It's no different whether you are marketing products, policies, revolutions, or people. Marketing is marketing. Overall image and believability is king. So how does that play out when you are trying to market yourself?
For the sake of consistency let's say that you're applying for a new job or a promotion at work. If you have high self-esteem, you probably aren't reading this article. So we can also assume that you aren't too sure of yourself. You wouldn't be applying for the position if you didn't think you could do it, but you've got insecurities about how you should go about presenting yourself to the powers that be. You aren't a professional schmoozer and that's not the image you want to put forth anyway. So how does the everyday person market themselves without coming across as too arrogant nor too shy?
Let's start with believability. Nothing you do or say during the interview is going to matter if you don't come across as believable. Your new boss has to trust you. Nobody hires someone that they can't trust. How do you build trust? First of all, you have to tell the truth. There are a few people who can lie really well, but not many. Most people can tell on some subconscious level when they're being lied to. You know when you get that gut feeling that they aren't telling you the whole story.
It's the same way with most of us, so don't lie during the interview. If you really believe in yourself, then no matter how nervous you are, the energy of open and truthfulness will show itself.
Second, you need to look them in the eye. Don't stare down at your feet or gaze blankly at the cup of pens on their desk. Force yourself to make direct eye contact and to speak as naturally as you possibly can. It's okay to look them straight in the eye while shaking hands and simply say, "Forgive me, I'm a bit nervous." They will completely understand and say something reassuring. If they are so uppity that they look down at you for that, then you probably won't enjoy working for them anyway. You want to like your boss and coworkers just as much as you like your job description and your paycheck. So, be open and honest throughout the interview process and remember that you are interviewing them as your future boss too. It's not one sided, you are both meeting to determine if you will work well together.
Next let's look at your overall image. How do you market yourself as competent, dependable, intelligent, loyal, and an overall asset to the company? Start out by not applying for the job unless you are all of those things. The night before your interview, brainstorm a list of these types of qualities that a boss would want in an employee. Put yourself in your new boss's shoes. What kind of traits would you be looking for? Then run yourself through a mock interview or even better, have a friend help you to rehearse. Ask yourself these questions.... Am I competent? Do I have the basic skills necessary to perform the job or am I going to need training?
How quickly do I learn? Is this job going to require someone who is a quick self-learner? It's okay to stretch a bit beyond your current knowledge base and to apply for things the will be a bit of a challenge. But you want to be honest and not claim on your resume nor in the interview that you've already mastered the skills if you haven't. Continue through the list... are you dependable? What additional assets or talents beyond the basic ones listed on the job description would you be bringing to the company? Be prepared to tell the interviewer of those extra bonus skills that you'd be bringing to the position. Rehearse your answers to the imaginary questions so that when you do get into the interview you'll have some ideas as to aspects of yourself you want to market to your new employer. By having your answers semi-prepared, you will have an easier time presenting yourself as an intelligent articulate person even if you're scared to death once the real interview begins.
Finally, don't underestimate your physical image. Be on time. Show up dressed in the appropriate outfit for the industry. Know the name of the company, the job title, and the interviewer. Familiarize yourself with where the bathroom is and go ahead of time. Don't load up on a bunch of fluids or caffeine before hand. These things may sound silly, but there's nothing worse then squirming in your chair when you're trying to come across as casually self-confident. Monitor your speaking voice. Watch for cuss words and street slang. Pay attention to tone and inflection. Don't allow a whiny voice nor a monotone droll to cost you the career of your dreams. Again, having a friend pre-rehearse these things with you can add tons of self-confidence when the real interview takes place.
If you really believe in yourself, then the marketing of yourself shouldn't be all that difficult. Just practice what you want to say and how you want to say it.
If you really do not believe in yourself, then you need to work on that first. If your goal is to create a happy wonderful life for yourself, then you are also interviewing them to see if they will fit into your version of 'happily ever after.' You're looking for a boss that is comfortable and easy to work with. You want to love your job and to love your life. You are offering yourself the gift of a new job, a promotion, or a pay raise and you are showing the world why you deserve to have it.