Humility Is Noble – Until It Costs You The Job

tape over mouth

Across all professions and positions, there is one dreaded sentiment that comes up most often when I talk to people about writing their own resume– right after “I hate writing my resume”.


No one wants to feel like they are bragging.  It feels showy, uncomfortable and untrue.  Fighting against this feeling leads people to under-play their strengths, skills, abilities and leave accomplishments flat.

It can set it early in the process.  You write a great bullet point or sentence and think it is great; but then you hear that little voice.  You know the one in your head that says, “Well, don’t you think you are all that and the bag of chips?”

Oh no, scratch that sentence or bullet point, it is bragging.

Yet here is the catch-22: if you do not tell the reader how awesome you are, no one else will.

So how do you convey your strengths and wonderful qualities without feeling or sounding like you are bragging?  You simply tell your story – in a demonstrative manner.

Simply stating the facts does not convey the depth of your value.  It can also leave the reader critical because those that read resumes read far too many that have been fluffed or padded.

“Increased sales 42% in one year.”

Great – but how?  The critical reader may instinctively challenge this with thoughts of “were you given an additional territory? Were sales just really low the last year? Did you take over someones book of business?”

That statement is missing the how which gives it the impact.  Demonstrate the how by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What did I do?
  • How did I do it?
  • How did it add value?

In answering these questions you can begin to demonstrate the how to increase the impact of the what and demonstrate your value.  This is not bragging, this is explaining a process that lead to a result.

If you tell your story, it may sound something like this: “I uncovered a customer need with our current clients; I used parts of our marketing campaign to introduce a secondary product, which was undersold, and increased sales 42% within one year with existing customers alone.”

Now that is a statement.  You can then whittle it down to a more concise bullet point that makes impact, demonstrates your value and solidifies the result. It also shuts down that little voice in your head. That statement will show you are a thinker, a problem solver, a doer and you get results.  Isn’t that what you want the reader to know?

How will they know unless you tell them?

Think of your resume as the pre-interview.  Sit down and have a conversation with that blank document and begin to tell your story.  Filling in the how gives the reader a greater understanding of the value you bring to the table and make the accomplishments more impactful.  It also leads to great conversations during the interview.

Stating the how is not bragging, it is simply telling your story – and that is the purpose of your resume – to tell your story in a way you want the reader to understand it.



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.

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