For almost a decade I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency.
In addition to learning how to deal with a wild and crazy bunch of folks, I learned a lot not only about the advertising business, but also about advertising in general.
One of the facts that I learned was that a good advertising campaign could get customers to try the product. (We were a very creative shop!) In some cases, we were so good at what we did that we almost put some of our clients out of business.
Sounds odd, but oh so true. Promising 10 and delivering 5 is about one of the worst things you can do.
In the context of job search, I often think about this problem, although in most cases I find members promising 5 but capable of delivering 10. The result is that they don’t get their “customers” to try them at all.
I only wish that to a degree I could get some of you to brag a little. Yes, I know it is out of character for us to do it, but work with me a little here. I am not suggesting you promise you can leap tall buildings at a single bound or bend steel in your bare hands, but I want you to at least promote the thought that you can do what you can do and that you do it very well.
We often think that our role in the organization is one of “bean counting” or being a “policeman.” Although these roles do fall to us, our influence is often more than we think it is. If you were listening around the halls and eavesdropping, you may have heard more than once someone say they weren’t going to do something because they “knew” you wouldn’t approve.
Did your boss ever come to you for advice? (Yes, I know he didn’t come often enough.) But the question was did he stop by to shoot the breeze with you from time to time and find out what you thought? You may very well have had a greater impact on what was going on around you than you thought. (Oh, how you enjoyed those moments when everyone turned to you and waited for your answer.)
The problem for you to solve is how to project what you were doing without seeming like a braggart. Not easy, but nothing worth doing is. (As they say in Texas: it isn’t bragging if it’s true.)
In your 90-second announcements and in your resume, is the real you coming out? Or, are you still wound up in the functions you performed and the details involved in them?
Take a step back and think about all the war stories you love to tell. Are they in your most important advertising pieces? Why not?
This is what you need to do to get to that third or fourth level resume. Think broadly and in circus barker terms and see what you can come up with.
Just don’t get carried away with yourself. I would hate to see you put yourself out of business by over promising.