Never Undersell Yourself… Ever.
Never undersell yourself. I know it is difficult sometimes because many job seekers are constantly having to shift their tactics to try and align their backgrounds as closely as possible to position openings.
Oftentimes, they find that they might seem overqualified to the prospective employer, and therefore, for the lack of a better description, “dumb down” their résumé in an effort to not come across as strongly.
But if you have resorted to these tactics previously, consider these potential career setbacks:
- You could put yourself back financially by going for a lesser position with equally lesser pay which can mean that your long-term salary earnings will be lot less over your entire career lifetime. Example: If you accept a job that pays $10,000 less per year than what you are earning now, in 10 years that equals $100,000 you won’t have in your pocket. Think about that number.
- Taking a lesser position could mean that you put a bigger obstacle in your path to what you really want. Sometimes, it does make sense to take a step back in order to completely change careers, but other times, a miscalculated move could mean that the forward momentum you had been enjoying is now moving in the opposite direction. Always keep your eyes on the prize: what your long-term goal is. Then map out the path in getting there.
- Never underestimate how you’ll come across if you accept a lower level position. Inherently, if you have been in a higher position, and suddenly find yourself in a more subordinate role, sometimes you come across as anything but that. And that can cause problems with your current supervisor or manager who is in charge. Consider how you might fit in – if you are truly trying to be the “in-the-trenches” worker, you’ll need to be very aware of how you conduct yourself to avoid outgunning the authority of the real boss. Never undersell yourself to get into this kind of position.
- You could get found out if you undersell yourself. Over time, as we get more comfortable in a new job, we tend to let our guards down as we get a better lay of the land. Sometimes, details slip out that might not have come up or been discussed during the interview process. That could mean that after this new information comes out, everyone has a different perspective of you. If you obscure certain facts about your expertise, and it later turns out that you are something completely different than what you let on about, that could raise questions about your character and how you might fit into the team.
- Are you really going to be happy in the job if you undersell yourself? If you know you aren’t fulfilling your top potential, how do you think that will translate into your on-the-job attitude? Will you be happy? Or constantly grinding your teeth because what you really want and/or excel in is beyond your current grasp? This can also impact your career because how you act is directly tied into how people perceive you, and that, in turn, affects your career destiny.
- Underselling can smell like desperation. Job searches are all about compromise, but don’t go so far as to compromise yourself. By undervaluing what you bring to the table, you could send the wrong message that you are so desperate that you’ve lost touch with what you can do to help prospective employers. Never undersell yourself like this!
- Underselling yourself can mean that the job really isn’t a match. In the long-tail approach, your duration at a company where you undersold yourself in order to get into the door could ultimately mean a very short employment stint at the company. What it really means is that there wasn’t the best match possible. Since performance and job satisfaction are so closely tied to having the best match of candidate qualifications and background, as well as culture fit to the job opening, it is important to always focus on what you do best.
Never undersell yourself. Your value is your career currency, and if you devalue it, you end up with worthless credit that gets you nowhere.
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.