The Dreaded Question- “Tell me about yourself?” 

When it comes to marketing yourself and creating your personal brand, you want your first impression to be stellar. Who could answer a question about you better than you? In addressing this subject, you must remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  

Do you struggle with introducing yourself? 

There are reasons this topic is met with such difficulty- 

Here are some of the reasons this topic is difficult for so many of us: 

  • You may be focusing on what you believe the person wants to hear while answering this question.
  • You may feel uncomfortable talking about your accomplishments because it feels like bragging.
  • You aren’t sure which direction to go with your answer, where to begin or when to stop.

Regardless of why you struggle with this question, it is one of the most critical responses you should have ready in your personal branding arsenal.

You should have different versions of your introduction prepared. 

★ Have an introduction prepared for when you meet someone in a casual setting- perhaps in an introduction through a friend or event. This could be someone you are meeting for the first time on your own or someone you specifically sought to meet. What is your end goal?  To develop a network. 

★ Have a specific introduction ready when talking with a hiring manager in a job interview. When the hiring manager asks you to tell them about yourself, what they are asking is, “what do you bring to the table.” Before the interview, consider several characteristics and skills you believe they will value. Outline them briefly. Remember that they can always ask more questions if more information is needed. What is your end goal? To drive your most important skills for the job you are applying. 

★ Have a different version for someone willing to help you connect with job opportunities. If one of your connections wants to help you make other connections, they must have a clear picture of who you are professionally. What is your end goal? To develop a network.

In preparing your introduction, here are a few guidelines:

  • Tell your story, but not your life story. Keep your introduction relevant to your professional goals or to the position. 
  • Be concrete and concise– Show how your skills have made a difference. Your introduction should be able to be completed in a minute or less. You want to say enough to encourage interest and questions, but not enough to come off as arrogant and self-absorbed. 
  • Talk about what you did while serving, not what your team did. What did you bring to your team and what can you bring to your new team?  
  •  Avoid the word ‘Just’- i.e. “I was just a technician.” You were not just anything. Your service is something to speak about proudly. 
  • Don’t forget about the soft skills you gained while serving in the military; in uniform or as a spouse. Time management, organization, effective communication, and leadership skills are all effective and highly-valued in the civilian workplace. 
  • Write your introduction out and practice it often so you are comfortable with it. 
  • Practice your introduction often. Yes, we said it again. Ask people you trust to listen and give you feedback. 

When creating your professional introduction, use the “3-S” approach.

  • Success – What is your background and experience? 
  • Strength – What is your biggest strength? 
  • Situation – What do have to offer, what skills can you bring to the company? 

Information from ESEL Seminars.