How to toot your HR horn without appearing to brag

Here’s the perception: HR professionals are often too busy and lack the business savvy to effectively self-promote their successes to bosses.  

But HR people who advance to executive levels know their value, and they make time to communicate it. The key, according to HR consultants: Diplomatically self–promote—no matter how busy you get—without the crassness and fanfare that alienates others.    

Use the following seven guidelines to self-promote without boastfulness:

1. Define your HR “value proposition.” Determine the quality of service you can provide managers, executives and employees. Take this step for each major area of HR services—people, processes, pay and promotion.

2. Communicate your value and successes. Find a way to briefly and logically work your accomplishments into HR-related communications. Focus on email, the website and company materials related to topics such as workplace culture, performance management, career development, company growth, benefits and pay.

3. Praise others publicly. If you’ve led a successful HR project, send an email thanking those who helped while pointing out the results of the success—and cc your boss on the email. This allows you to illustrate what a good manager you are by giving credit to others, plus helps you improve the morale of the people you’ve just commended.

4. Sincerely share credit with your HR team. Self-promotion isn’t about grabbing the spotlight. Highlighting team successes demonstrates grace while subtly reminding superiors of your success.

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5. Refine your “elevator pitch.” When asked, describe your job to co-workers by stating the value you bring to the company instead of simply citing job title and duties. Example: “I’m head of HR and I help managers get the best performance from their staffs.”

When an executive asks how you are doing, briefly share a success. Example: “I’m great. By the way, we just finished a new report on HR ROI you’d be interested in. I’ll email you a copy.”  

6. Maintain a log of accomplishments. Refer to the log before meeting with bosses.    

7. Get published. Contribute articles to your company’s website or to online publications, newsletters and magazines. Write about successful HR services that directly or indirectly impact the organization’s employees, productivity and bottom line.

Remember: Self-promotion must be consistent and credible to be effective. Keep your antennae up for positive and negative reactions to your efforts.

Self-quiz: What makes you memorable … and marketable?

In her book, BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, Peggy Klaus includes the “Take 12” questionnaire. It allows you to create what she calls your “Brag Bag,” a colorful collection of personal and professional information that you can use to create your bragologue—a brief, pithy, conversational monologue that talks about you (what you do, your accomplishments, etc). Bragologues can range from a 10-second “elevator pitch” to a one-minute introduction at a networking event to a client pitch.

Write down your answers to these questions:

1. What would you and others say are five of your personality pluses?

2. What are the ten most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you?

3. What do you do for a living and how did you end up doing it?

4. What do you like/love about your current job/career? 

5. How does your job/career use your skills and talents, and what projects are you working on right now that best showcase them?

6. What career successes are you most proud of having accomplished (from current position and past jobs)?

7. What new skills have you learned in the last year?

8. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today, both professionally and personally, and what essential lessons have you learned from some of your mistakes?

9. What training/education have you completed and what did you gain from those experiences?

10. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways member, board, treasurer, or the like?

11. How do you spend your time outside of work, including hobbies, interests, sports, family, and volunteer activities?

12. In what ways are you making a difference in people’s lives?