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How Self Esteem Can Affect Your Career Health

Lets face it, I don’t know too many people who pat themselves on the back and say, “I’m so great, I can do all these incredible things!” In fact, you are much more likely to hear of our limitations, with ease-in fact. “I’m not good in math; I’m disorganized; I can never remember names…”you know the story. These  self-defeating statements (along with the deficiency in recognizing our inner talents) actually get in the way of our achieving career goals. When we  want to discover our ‘best-work,’ the very insight we need to attain is the realization of our  previous accomplishments. These accomplishments then lead us to our motivated skills and inner talents.

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For many people, however, recognizing self-accomplishments almost seems to work against their personal values and natural personality disposition.  I actually had one client who I was counseling for interview preparation, say, “I don’t want to tell anyone what I’m good at. I just do my job. I don’t want to be like a snake-oil salesman.”

I have come to the conclusion that this resistance in sharing our talents with others (& in some cases, even resisting self-awareness of strength) is a critical reason why some people stay in jobs when they are unhappy. The thought of interviewing for another position is enough to scare anyone. My philosophy in career counseling is not to coach a client to be a “salesman”- but to understand their natural personality style, first, and to utilize this style during an interview.

For example, if a person is more naturally introverted, using statements ‘others’ have written about their accomplishments is much more effective in interviewing than encouraging a client to verbalize (in their own words) how great they are. This very process of building our career self- esteem must leverage off of our own unique and natural style- otherwise we may find ourselves fearful of interviewing & resisting the very process of building our self-esteem.

            My ‘snake-oil salesman adverse’ client learned in career counseling to use a portfolio of statements-written by others who had observed his strengths over the years. With coaching, he began to feel very comfortable in interviewing when asked, “What are your strengths?” His response would be, comfortably, “My managers have always said I’m a natural problem-solver with stronger than average follow-through. People say I’m the kind of person they can count on.”  By utilizing his natural style, we were able to build his career self-confidence & self-esteem. Yes, he was awarded his Electronics Technician job, & most importantly he’s in the work he loves.

            In the New Year, take time out for yourself and reflect on your accomplishments. This very process will allow you to explore new directions, and may infuse some healthy ideas and options into your new career.

© Alice Rush. All Rights Reserved. For more information visit

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