sell yourself

How to Sell Yourself (and Why Your Career Depends On It)

To get ahead in life, you need to be in the business of selling. If this statement makes you cringe, it is probably because the word “sales” evokes images of annoying telemarketers and pushy car dealers. Relax, though, as this article is about a product so wonderful and special you should have no qualms in selling it. The product? You.

There are endless situations in life where the key to success is the ability to sell yourself to others. In your career, the ability to convince an interviewer that you are the best person for the job is critical. When it comes to relationships, your ability to show your best qualities can be the crucial factor in clinching a date with the girl or guy you want. When you think about it, if you cannot sell yourself as a person to others, you are going to have a difficult time selling them your ideas, your wishes, your needs, your ambitions, your skills, and your experience.

Despite the necessity of being able to sell yourself to others, for many people like myself it does not come naturally. Introversion, shyness, and lack of self-worth are just a few of the obstacles that can potentially get in the way. To overcome such obstacles, I suggest focusing on the following:

Be Sold on Yourself

This is the first, and perhaps most important, aspect to successfully selling yourself to others. Unless it comes naturally, this is probably also the hardest. Being sold on yourself comes down to this: you must be aware of your own self-worth. This means you believe in yourself, have faith in yourself, and have confidence in yourself.

Being sold on yourself is not something that usually happens overnight. For many years, I did not like myself. I can, however, personally attest that it is possible to change your life and gain a sense of self-worth when there was once none. If you struggle with your sense of self-worth, here are just 3 ideas that may help:

  • Live in such a way that you would want to be friends with yourself
  • Find some time to reflect on what you like about yourself. If this seems hard, start with the smallest of attributes.
  • Don’t do anything that will give you cause to feel ashamed later.

Have a Saleable Package

This article is predominately about letting others know about the inner contents of your package. That being said, there is no getting around the fact that people judge others based on their appearance. Some questions you may consider asking yourself are: am I looking after my appearance to the best of my ability? Are my clothes appropriate for the image I wish to project?

Be Positive and Enthusiastic

Can you remember the last time you received poor customer service? Did the person look bored, disinterested, and as if they wanted to be anywhere but that place? Don’t be that person. Positivity and enthusiasm can both be developed, but once again it takes work. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Look for the best in people
  • Associate with positive people
  • Care deeply about something
  • See life as an adventure
  • Smile

Be Real and Authentic

Rather than being about who you appear to be, selling yourself is about letting others know who you are as a person. For this reason, lies and half-truths are a recipe for disaster later down the line. By telling the truth, you will earn both trust and respect which, in turn, will help you build a great reputation. Not only that, it will make you feel good about yourself. The last thing you want to do is sell yourself out by compromising your values and principles.

Peter writes about how to change your life at The Change Blog. He also runs a blog for audio book lovers called Audio Book Downloads.


85 Responses to How to Sell Yourself (and Why Your Career Depends On It)

  1. Hey Peter– thanks for the great article. This is a topic very close to my heart, and something I talk about all the time. No matter what you are “selling”, it all boils down to how much you believe in yourself. The greatest salespeople can sell ice to eskimos because of their belief in themselves and charisma!!

  2. John Wesley says:

    I agree — most people look at selling as conniving and deceitful, but the truth is that selling is involved in everything you do. If you can’t sell and idea to people you’ll never get anywhere.

  3. Peter says:

    Thanks Todd.

    This topic is also very close to my heart as I have been to a few job interviews lately. As I wrote in the article, selling myself does not always come naturally. That said, I know how important it is so I try to suck it up and just go for it :) .

  4. I have a very strong aversion to being “sold” something. Whether it is telemarketers or pushy retail sales people, the whole experience often just rubs me the wrong way.

    That’s why when it comes to “selling” myself as a life coach for personal development, or “selling” someone on the value of attending one of my seminars or keynotes or even purchasing my book, I think of it as “attracting”.

    I know that if I let my passion, excitement and commitment shine through – then the right people will be attracted to me and to what I am “selling”. (And by right people, I mean those that will get real value from the deal.)

  5. John Wesley says:

    Patrick,

    You make a great point. When you can create a great product or offer, there is no need for manipulation in selling. If what you are offering a great value to the buyer, than selling is really helping everyone.

  6. Peter says:

    Patrick,

    I understand what you are saying but I still like the word “sell”. The reason for this is that, in my opinion, it is important to step up and let others know exactly who you are. As someone who is often reserved and shy, I feel I have “shared” myself in plenty of interview to no avail. When I have been more assertive in letting the interviewer know why I am the person for the job, I have had far more success.

  7. Jason says:

    Thanks for using self-worth instead of self-esteem… the difference is important!

    Another tip for increasing self-worth, by the way, is to write a description of yourself the way someone else would see you. In other words, forget about your past and your thoughts, and describe yourself from the attitude you project, your recent actions, etc… It can help you to give up, at least a little bit, judging yourself so much more harshly than you do others.

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  9. I think the most important point here is that you need to love yourself first. It took me a long time (and a lot of writing) to finally realize that. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t sell yourself. Faking it is not an option because everyone can see right through that!

  10. Ravi Vora says:

    Fantastic post. The first thing in advertising you are taught is to be able to do an ad on YOURSELF.

    If you can’t sell you to yourself, why would anyone else buy you?

  11. Jim says:

    “Don’t do anything that will give you cause to feel ashamed later”

    That implies an objective moral code (dare I say it – a “moral” code). Very politically incorrect these days ! Don’t you realize there is no “right” or “wrong” – there just “is” – and as one famous former President pointed out – it all depends what on the meaning of “is” is.

    I believe much of what you said is really an outward manifestation of an interior condition. Yes – I’m talking about (gasp) the spiritual life.

  12. Sophie Cross says:

    Read Anneli Rufus’ “Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto”. This truth to this article is obnoxious

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  15. Noam Bleiweiss says:

    Here’s how to really sell yourself:

    http://thesevenyearplan.com/viewarticle.php?id=235

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  17. Jorge says:

    Great post. Will share this with people that I know of that have this problem. Low self esteem is another key factor in the equation and you can actually perceive this in people that sell somebody else and not themselves.

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  19. Erdnah says:

    I don’t like words like “sell” and “product” related to human beeings. May be you lack some critical distance to modern categories like property, ware, money -> labour etc.

  20. I believe within the work environment you are on ‘show’ but you shouldn’t have to ‘sell’ to have a successful career. As an individual everything you do makes up your personal brand and it is your personal brand that makes you a success or not. Very simply put, if you go the extra mile, deliver high quality work, exceed customers expectations, build great relationships, volunteer for extra tasks, etc, etc, 9 times out of 10, you will be ‘seen’ and have a great prosperous career. You don’t have to sell yourself, but you have to be seen by doing some of the things I mention.

    Andrew

  21. Erdnah says:

    Consider, you had told a slave: “Today, you have to know how to sell yourself!” 😉

  22. Jason says:

    I don’t think it requires an objective moral code, Jim, a subjective one will do just fine.

    And what you said, GreatManagement, essentially IS selling… if you go the extra mile, deliver high quality work, build great relationships, etc… those are the key elements of selling.

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  24. Oici says:

    I think this one has potential to bring more stress in our already stressful lives… there are some people who are simply introvert and shy and putting themselves out is not what they are… (and people should be themselves, no?)
    Ciao from Oici

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  26. Hi Jason,

    Maybe my definition of ‘selling’ and yours is different. I see ‘going the extra mile, deliver high quality work, build great relationships, etc’ help your get noticed within the working environment.

    I suppose I saw the word ‘selling’ and automatically thought about boasting, shouting from the rooftops, telling everyone how good you are. You don’t have to do that.

    Andrew

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  29. “Be Sold on Yourself”. Selling can be seen as a dirty word. People get put off. Maybe using a softer word like ‘chat’. It’s a softer approach and lowers the level of anxiety.

    Ultimately it comes down to level of belief and your attitude. If you believe you will succeed.

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  32. Leonard Snow says:

    Not a bad article, but too simple of advice. I’d like to see more.

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  37. jemimah says:

    i need money in exchang for my soul

  38. Michael says:

    wow, wonderful and inspiring as ever on my journey.
    many thanks

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  41. jasmine says:

    thank you for your advice. I have a job interview tomorrow a group one speaking infront of others which is the worst scenario for me but i wil continue reading ur article in the morning before i leave to reinforce these ideas thank u for the article

  42. William says:

    Great advice here.

    remember selling superstars have a great mix of ego and empathy so when they (we) get knocked down we just bounce straight back up again and get stuck in.

    A great saying to remember is this:-

    “it’s not how hard you fall, but how high you bounce”

    William….
    The Strategic Sales Trainer
    http://www.strategicsellingsystem.com/NewRules

  43. waledollar says:

    i really love this article. I will not remain the same in my ability to sell my ideas. the sky is our stepping stone.
    thank u

  44. ragy mansour says:

    it’s a must 2 known about this things if u want a scsses

  45. jasmine says:

    I got the job everyone!! Good luck to all! Just believe in yourself even if u feel less than anyone else sometimes.Thanks

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  47. This is great, and if you have ever been involved in sales or selling then you may well relate to some of these – and hey please grow the list, I am sure there are a lot more out there that I have not even heard of!

    So check it out here: http://digg.com/comedy/11_reasons_selling_sucks

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  52. AJ Kumar says:

    Hi Guys,

    I’ve been in the personal development game for a very long time…and one thing I’ve learned that makes a huge difference is: Act as if your success is already certain

    Simply the fake it till you make rule!

    AJ Kumar

  53. ANDY says:

    GREAT!!! – I DO LOVE YOUR POSITIVE THINKING – I AM IN A SITUATION WHERE THIS IS PROBABLY A HUNDRED YEARS IN THE FUTURE — I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A PROBLEM IN EXACTLY HOW TO BUILD BELIEF IN MYSELF – I OFTEN TAKE ON JOBS I DIDNT DARE BELIEVE I COULD FINISH-AND I WAS SUCCESSFUL AND I EARNED MORE RESPECT AND ADMIRATION THAN I EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE-BUT THIS DOES NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION – HOW DO YOU BUILD BELIEF IN YOURSELF FROM THE SOCIAL ANGLE-TO GO OUT AND SAY I CAN INDEED DO THIS NEEDS YOUR(AMERICAN) SOCIAL STRUCTURE WHERE EVERYBODY IS VERY POSITIVE -EVERYONE SURROUNDING ME IS VERY “SELF IMPOSSIBLE” SO…

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  55. Peter, your articles are really practical, straightforward and in a language that promises results but does not overpromise. I stumbled upon your e-book and it was so smooth to read in one go. Particularly many practical resources for bloggers. Thumbs up and keep your good work making a better world.

  56. dan says:

    i need sex

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  58. Stinky87 says:

    Therefore a caring and loving family is at the heart of who we will become. ,

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  60. Jacky Youkon says:

    I am trying to post an ad to do childcare in my home for the summer. Where do I go on the computer to do this. I have 20 years of experience. I just want to put my ad out there. Thank you, Jacky Youkon

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  64. DropShip says:

    I agree — most people look at selling as conniving and deceitful, but the truth is that selling is involved in everything you do. If you can’t sell and idea to people you’ll never get anywhere.

  65. I needed to read this article. I have struggled with looking at myself in a positive way. I know I can write copy for products & services for other people, but when it came to selling myself I didn’t know where to begin.

    I have had such a negative attitude about my abilities compared to other writers. This article has opened my eyes to see myself in a different light. Thank you

  66. What a great piece of writing, nice you published it. Muchos gracias ;).

  67. Simply put, you must be sold on you before you can sell yourself to anyone else. Nice article.

  68. Gabriel says:

    i think that it’s going to be hard to get a job, except if yours is skill based like accountancy, law, I.T., etc. because most companies would like a team player, someone that is good with people. In selling, loner or not, loner by default but not by choice (meaing just plain shy, or has a low self-worth)
    if you are planning to take on the job sales, i think that you ought not be loner.

  69. Gabriel says:

    just fly with the eagles man

  70. Maurice Peugh says:

    To all,

    I believe that I can sell anything that I believe in and that includes myself particularly when it comes to math, science, and finance. These are my special talents. We all have some things that we do better than almost everyone else. Thus, if you can’t sell yourself, I believe that you are trying to sell something about yourself that you don’t buy. If anyone has a position for someone like me, please submit a comment with some way to contact you.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Well framed, Peter. 

    Being Real and Authentic are both powerful ways to have everything else fall into place.  When I’m real, then there’s no need to feel awkward.  There’s nothing to figure out or cover up…  And when I’m feeling more comfortable, I’m naturally more pleasant, and more focused on other people.

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  73. True says:

    I like me. I am very nice, very cool, very pleased. When any
    people see me they will feel purity. I am looking by carefully five items
    from  present life. Those are also
    delight. 

    1. I am very sensitive my work.

    2. I like heard work.

    3. I am very honest my work.

    4. I am doing very near from heart.

    5. always I chouse big work

    I am a philosopher. But I have no value without any
    certificate…

  74. Taylor Marek says:

    Thanks so much for that article! Filing it away in case I need to bring it out later on. 😉

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  77. Ruben says:

    Have a problem here. My “Be Real and Authentic” goes against the “Be Positive and Enthusiastic”. I’m searching articles about how  someone sells himself and I found exactly how already I am.  I’m honest in my work, hard-worker, truth teller, and the mafia, despot who is climbing up steals our credit, lies about information, lies just to give an answer to anything. Things have gone so bad that I have proven his lies and yet our bosses support him. So, my problem is, how he has gotten all this mafia power to the point the bosses don’t punish him for his mistakes? I really need some help here. Thanks.

  78. CSalt2 says:

    Right on Ruben.  I worked hard at my job for 12 years, finally making it (in my opinion) to the best position in our agency.  Then there was a lot of turn over and a new boss. Three or four of the new people arrived thinking they new how to do my job better than I.  The new boss who also new very little about how our office functions eventually fell for their lies and BS.  They would actually make things up in  meetings just to contradict me.  Eventually I was harassed to the point that I won a big settlement out-of-court and was able to retire early.  I would rather have continued the work I was doing which I thought was important.

  79. Chakravarty Nabadip says:

    THANK YOU FOR PUBLISHING SUCH A NICE ARTICLE. IT REALLY HELPS THE YOUTH WHO ARE FIGHTING IN DIFFERENT SELL WORKS.

  80. Laughter Unique says:

    Hi Peter, Thanks for the thoughts. My little input; learn to laugh with and at yourself, laughing with and at others will soon follow.  Laughing is a physical and spiritual activation of yourself. People tell me I have changed, true I have, I became more like myself (and liked myself more).  Laughter without jokes or humour releases; energy to conquer, communication, love for others.  The people will love you. What more can you want. Remember what you see is what you get.

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  82. Dan DeBiase says:

    Very good advice. especially the first part about being sold on yourself. I believe this is a huge key and one can not move on without first “selling them self”.

    http://www.empowernetwork.com/djdemetri/blog/how-to-sell-yourself-instead-of-a-product-or-service/

  83. Deanz says:

    This is great stuff! Thank you :)

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