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Canadians harm our careers because we’re afraid of “bragging”

Employers are looking for candidates who can sell their skills, but many Canadians say they just aren't comfortable doing it

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Employee of the month holding a plaque

(Andrew McCaul/Getty)

In an unsurprising turn of events, a survey by LinkedIn has found that only 29% of Canadians feel comfortable talking about their achievements at work, and over half of us (53%) admitted that when we do we feel like we’re bragging.

The annual global survey analyzed attitudes towards sharing successes and making a good first impression at work. And while things may look bleak for Canada, we’re not alone when it comes to professional inferiority complexes.

“We’re pretty on par with what you see globally,” confirms Julie Dossett, communications lead at LinkedIn Canada. (That’s with the exception of the U.S., where 40% of workers feel comfortable talking about what they do.) What’s interesting to Dossett is how many employees worldwide are unwilling to speak to their own qualifications. “Globally, fewer than half of the people we surveyed were comfortable saying they were proud of what they did,” she explains. “They told us, ‘It feels like I’m boasting.’”

And while many employees felt uneasy talking about their own abilities, 55% said they would feel comfortable sharing their colleagues’ accomplishments. “It takes me no time at all to identify and express ways in which someone is a great colleague; and yet, when I turn the lens on myself, all of a sudden it’s like, ‘I don’t know, I just do my job,’” Dossett admits. This presents a dilemma: nearly 90% of Canadians with input into the recruiting process reported they wanted to get a sense of what type of person a potential candidate was, along with the type of skills they possessed.

The survey addressed the notion of an “elevator story”: if you were to meet your dream employer by chance in an elevator, could you convince them to hire you? 1 in 6 Canadians surveyed said no. “So often the opportunities that arise in life are unexpected,” says Dossett. She recommends creating an engaging paragraph-long pitch, ready for any possible employment opportunity that might arise. “Practice it with a friend or a colleague—who again, might be better at highlighting your strengths,” she says.

Dossett says that while those surveyed often acknowledged the importance of being able to sell their abilities, they still felt uncomfortable doing so. “We know there is value to it, to let our colleagues and managers know that we are succeeding, but it’s still hard to do,” she says.

The solution? Dossett says that the easiest way to overcome the problem is to frame it in a different way. “When you look at it and say, here is my job, and here is some examples of me performing it well, that’s not bragging, that’s giving evidence of your ability to do your job,” she says. “And if you don’t do it, who else is going to do it for you?


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