Confidence vs Cocky & Not Crossing The Line in Resumes, Job Searching & Networking

nervous interviewee

“I want to tell people what I do and that I am good at it, but I feel like it sounds like I am bragging.”

This is a sentiment I hear a lot from job seekers, people looking to advance in their careers or in trying to build a bigger client base. It all comes down to one simple question: “How do you convey your value in a confident way without sounding cocky?”

The concept of the answer is simple, yet the communication involves combining three key elements: believing, demonstrating which tie into delivery.


Quite simply – you have to believe you are good at what you do. Some might think “of course I believe it, I am just having trouble saying it.”  Maybe.    The problem may lie in how you start the conversation.  I recently had a conversation with an consultant and I asked him how he describes himself to prospective clients.

He began with, “I tell them that I think I am a good….”


I asked him, “Do you think you are good at what you do or do you know you are good at what you do?  He said he knows he is good. The problem with leading with “I think” is you create doubt in your audience.  Why would they have any greater confidence in you than you do yourself?

Self-talk is important.  It is what fuels the “I think”.  Be very careful in how you talk to yourself.


No one is going to simply take your word for it.  Not only do we live in a cynical world, there is way too much fibbing going on in resumes and networking.  I do not believe it is in our nature to simply take a stranger’s word for something. If you meet someone tomorrow and they tell you they can double your investment in 30 days are you going to simply take their word for it?  If so, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn you are going to love!

Throwing a bunch of numbers might get their attention, but that is not all it takes to demonstrate your effectiveness.  If you are looking to hire a new sales person and a candidate tells you they increased their book of business 45%, are you going to be satisfied that they are the right fit?  Probably not, because there is one important question that follows that statement – how?

If they identified a new market, designed the strategy and captured a significant portion in just a few months or identified an opportunity to increased value to existing clients with a complimentary upsell that demonstrates.  Inheriting a territory does not demonstrate that they had any direct impact on that uptick.

How do you do what you do? Sometimes you can demonstrate this by telling a story. Other times it is effective to demonstrate by using your audience as an example.  With every client I have a pre-interview to review their current resume or LinkedIn profile.  I will use examples within their current material to convey how it could be interpreted and then describe a solution.  This allows them to get an understanding of not only what I do, but how I do it and as important – how I communicate.


Believing and demonstrating directly impact delivery. The key to an exceptional delivery that you are comfortable with is to reconnect with one the most critical element of your value: why do you do what you do?

The best leaders I have known, regardless of industry or title, all have two things in common:

  1. They stink at talking about themselves.
  2. They love what they do.

The purpose of this article is to help with number one.  But number two – that is the missing ingredient.  Get back to that place of knowing, and feeling, why you do what you do.  Get excited about it!

Do you love it?  Then do not hold back.  So what if it is something that most people can relate to – if you love it, embrace it! That love is a big part of why you are so good at it.  It fuels passion, a desire for excellence and a continued commitment to improvement.

And really, do you think it can sound any crazier than saying you love writing resumes and LinkedIn profiles?  For most people writing those things ranks up there with a root canal without anesthesia.

Not me.

I ask one question often during the pre-interview to every single client: “Does that make sense?” I explain that I get a little excited about what I do and I can get on a roll so I stop and ask that question often to make sure that I do not overwhelm them.  Yes, every single client because no matter what the project, I am a freak about personal branding – I love it. There is nothing better than having someone see themselves from a value perspective and get reengaged and excited about themselves and their opportunities. This love transcends to coaching.  Love it!

Start from that place and then tell them how you do what you do.  It is how you will differential yourself in your market and your audience will see you as confident with a tremendous amount of value to offer.



As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

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