Being Confident

Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure of meeting with Carrie Nygren of Laughlin Constable’s Milwaukee office. I have known her for years as the mother of an old skating buddy, but recently rediscovered her as a wise woman in the advertising world. We talked about a lot of thing—the sad state that figure skating is in, the differences between the North and the South (she grew up in Tennessee), the pros and cons regarding various agencies in town, and the small world of Milwaukee PR.

As she looked over my resume, Carrie offered up one main critique: “Be more confident”

She smiled, letting the initial wave of shock behind her statement resonate with me before it faded into confusion. Furrowing my eyebrows, I look from my resume to her, then back to my resume. As I opened my mouth to question her, she laughed and explained that she knows I’m confident. “But,” she said as she pointed to the first few bullet points on my resume, “these points do not necessarily showcase that”.

I could feel my eyes reaching full expansion capacity as she continued her bullet-by-bullet explanation. Obviously, she was right. What I couldn’t believe was that I had been doing the same thing that so many women before me had done. I had been doing exactly what so many professors had been warning us about and begging us not to do.

I had been selling myself short!

I know, I know. It's shameful.

I know, I know. It’s shameful.

As Carrie knows, confidence is not something I lack. Maybe this was instilled in me through DSHA. Maybe it was through my life in the spotlight as a competitive figure skater. Maybe it was through my bombtastic friends who always make me feel like a San Fran 49er pre-SB ’13. It could just be my Puerto Rican blood. In fact, my parents might tell you that I came tumbling out of the womb radiating spunk and tenacity. I really can’t say. Regardless, I know I’m smart, funny, fun, talented, and whatnot. Plus, on the few days a month when my hair decides to drop its attitude and behave, I am nearly unstoppable!

Bringing it back to my future career, talking and writing have always been my strongest points. To the dismay of my grade school teachers and the delight of my current professors, it’s what I do best. Everyone who knows me knows this.

Yet, as Carrie pointed out—not once did I mention my communication skills on my resume. Similarly, my writing skills had hardly been touched upon. The same went for my unique ability to connect with pretty much any audience. The points on my resume could effectively let an HR person know that I have had legitimate internships, but it hardly describes the extent to which I threw myself into my work experiences and turned it into something more valuable than a job description on Big Shoes Network.

When professors spoke of women who rely on hedging as a crutch, who are afraid to ask for a raise, and who continuously fail to highlight their successes, I never thought they were referring to me. Surely, blunt and boisterous Becky rose above all that! Right?

I mean, look how strong and aggressive I am!

Look how strong and aggressive I am!

Nope. What’s worse is that I thought I was properly displaying myself to the world. I thought I was coming off as a powerful woman. Alas, I had fallen into the same trap as so many others. As it turns out, the disconnect between women’s true selves and the way they portray themselves on paper is more common than I had assumed. This type of behavior is so customary that some of us are oblivious to our own passiveness!

Talk about a much needed reality check. Looks like “amplify resume’s aggressive power” just got added to my weekend to-do list.

So, to my fellow dynamic female compadres—check yourselves! This could be happening to you. Look over your personal branding material. Could you be taking a more aggressive approach to the presentation of your skill set? Standing out in a crowd is crucial to success, and bland resume statements are the equivalent of a beige sweater.

After all, no one wants to be the Michelle of the group.

After all, no one wants to be the Michelle of the group.

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