Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can You Sell Yourself Without Selling Out?

It had been a long damn time since I last tried to sell myself; to push all my awesomeness to the forefront just hoping that I don't look desperate. I mean, I don't spend much/any time on the singles scene and I already have a great group of friends to whom I never need to "prove" myself. I just am me. Unfortunately, this sliding, gliding be who I am and don't give a crap what anybody thinks about it attitude has had to be wiped off my snug little face for the ultimate selling of oneself - the job interview.

Oh yes, when interviewing for a job my pomp-a-hawk becomes more of a mom-do, and my nose ring gets slipped into my front breast pocket. My Chucks are replaced with sensible slip-ons and my ego gets kicked right out the door.

Some people appear better on paper than they do in an interview, and others have the opposite problem. I don’t really know where I fit into the spectrum. I know that I have a lot to offer an employer, but my resume doesn’t really speak to all of my unique abilities. Conversely, the resume communicates a lot of experience in a field that I never really meant to get into. So in that one particular field, I’m doing ok – It just may not be the field I dreamed of. Isn’t that true of most jobs?

Is it selling out to "put on your best behavior" for an interview? To try to appear non-controversial? To quiet down your politics? I sometimes worry that I am doing a disservice to myself by calmly and coolly describing each detail of my past employment without revealing my real interests, causes about which I am passionate, and the blue-donkey blood that runs deep under my skin.

There is a common retort to this sort of argument: “If they don’t like me for who I am than I don’t want to work there.”

Sure, this is true in the big picture. I don’t want to work at a place where no one is concerned about equality, the environment or human rights. I don’t want to work at a place where I feel uncomfortable or unaccepted for my style (or my lifestyle), but this big picture becomes a little blurrier each day.

It becomes blurry because unemployment is not a good look on anyone. Because working, even if it is with an organization that doesn’t match my needs or my personality, is still working. I think as each day goes by I’m more willing to compromise. Does that make me a sell out, or just a realistic adult?

1 comment:

Jackie Levine said...

No offense, but life's too short to conform. Maybe you should work in social services, where your passionate perspectives are embraced by others, instead of leaving you feeling the need to stifle them. Girl, my last two bosses have been full-blown out and proud lesbians and that didn't prevent the rest of us from respecting them and focusing on the work at hand. You CAN be yourself at work, unless you think being real is somehow unprofessional. I don't see that in you- I think if you're yourself 100% of the time people will only respect you more for it, and those who don't, don't matter. I learned to embrace being different at the places I worked, as I was often the youngest and only caucasian. Add Buddhism and bisexuality and sure, people didn't always "get" me. But they liked me for the differences, and vice versa.
If job interviews are like an audition, you want to show them how you plan on acting the part. Please be you- the person your friends know and love, and the person you're already awesome at being.