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How to be less American and more British


I was brought up in New Zealand.  As an English speaking nation we had two major influences from the rest of the world, Britain and the USA.  Even as a kid I could see the cultural differences between the American way and the British way.

The Yanks were loudly self confident, they were demonstrably proud and they relished being the centre of attention.

The British were embarrassed to be put on a pedestal, they didn’t crow their successes and they seldom wore their heart on their sleeve but were very good at what they did.

So what?

Consider what this means when you take it down in scale; who is more likely to attract the attention of head-hunters and recruiters? Which is more likely to shine in an interview for work or a job?

Several years ago I met a career counsellor and we were chatting about the difference between CVs and resumes.  In his interpretation, CVs were generally the more traditionally British document, a dry recitation of past and present job responsibilities and titles.  Whereas a resume was a more American style ‘personal marketing brochure’, it was bold, it was unashamedly egocentric. His summation was that the Brits needed to learn from their American cousins; “When you read your own CV it should just start to make your toes curl as being a little bit “full of yourself”.” Was the way he put it.

But what if that slight toes curling actually embarrasses you? (As it does me) Trainers are an interesting bunch of people; in the training room they are self confident, polished and attention grabbing people; but ask them to sell themselves and many trainers find that they suddenly become painfully shy and self deprecating.  How can you show how good you are without “blowing your own trumpet”?  Here are two ways, use them both to your own advantage.

1.     You could just get over it! Embarrassment is an entirely self generated emotion.  Write yourself a CV/personal website/LinkedIn profile/profile on any forum site that blows your trumpet and does so from the rooftops.  Don’t fib, or embellish the truth but if you are good, take the credit and be proud of it.

2.     Alternatively you can avoid the embarrassment of self promotion by asking the people who know how good you are to tell others on your behalf. 

a.     If you are a trainer, you get a form of feedback on your performance every day you stand up in a training room.  “Happy sheets” often contain glowing references to your skill and ability, so use the comments. 

b.     Ask clients to allow/help you to write up short case studies of the Kirkpatrick level four outcomes of your work and add these to your CV, website and profiles. 

c.     Ask clients to endorse you on LinkedIn; they can select specific skills rather than simply giving a bland character reference. 

d.     Sites such as TrainNation, TrainingZone and eLance actively encourage employers and clients to comment on the achievements of their suppliers....these things speak volumes to either the buyer who seeks you out, or anyone you direct to the site. 

Let’s face it, you are in business to earn a living and you want to make it as easy as possible to find the work so you have more time to get on and do it (if that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t be in training, you’d be in sales).

This gives you the middle ground; you can be bold and self confident without having to shout (or wear a Hawaiian shirt, but that’s up to you).

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