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To self promote or not to self promote? The question, the challenge, the trap. HBR article on why self promotion for women is harder then expected

For anyone serious about climbing the exec ladder in their career, there is going to be a fair bit of self promotion involved. With so many candidates for every promotion who have the same degree, similar experiences and usually similar skills and personalities thanks to highly competitive recruitment processes, the need to get your contribution noticed is critical to success. Women have long been lectured to promote themselves, to make sure their contribution is noticed but a question many of us who work with professional women is “what is the cost of self promotion”.

This article is by Whitney Johnson, who also wrote one of the articles I often refer to on the potential costs of negotiating. She explores the crisis facing women with “Point to your accomplishments — you’re self-promoting. Don’t point — get fired.”

If you feel like you’ve been overlooked for a promotion, read it to find out how to make sure if doesn’t happen again. If you’re feeling a sense of hostility when you try to get your achievements recognized, read it to get a better understanding of what might be happening in your managers mind.

Johnson has some great tips, including rather then using the royal “we”, indentify what each member did “she did x, he did y, I did z”, because society is comfortable with women recognizing other people, and it makes sense to include yourself in that list.

Given the amount of women who are overlooked for promotions simply because their hard work wasn’t recognized, I am sure we need to keep self promoting. But we need to be smart about it – understand the attitudes to female self-promotion before you do it, and build strong relationships with your managers so they’re on your team.


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