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Job interviews: Hold the horrendous humblebrags

Humblebragging is all the rage right now, with this keyword bandied all about.  And, despite its popularity, the practice of humblebragging is something to be avoided by smart job hunters like the proverbial plague.

What is humblebragging?

This form of self-promotion masks boasting with false humility and faux modesty. Humblebraggers cover their conceits with complaints and fake self-deprecation while tooting their own horns, so to speak.

The humblebrag is the back-door brag. It’s super popular in social networking, but it is also commonly practiced in job interviews.

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Here’s an example of humblebragging during such a meeting.

Suppose the prospective employer asks the perennially popular question:

How would you describe your greatest personal weakness?

A humblebragger might offer one of these answers:

  • I am too much of a perfectionist.
  • I am way too hard on myself.
  • I am a workaholic.
  • I am an overachiever.
  • I am too honest for my own good.

Sometimes humblebragging includes name-dropping.

  • (Insert big-wig name-drop here) told me I try too hard.
  • (Insert big-wig name-drop here) always says I should learn to take some time off.
  • (Insert big-wig name-drop here) wanted to hire me, but I was too committed to an important job assignment at the time.

OK, you get the point about humblebragging examples.

Sure, a smart job candidate is not going to ramble on endlessly about his or her own failings and spill scores of deep, dark, dirty secrets. But a veiled self-compliment isn’t the ticket either.

Among hirers, humblebragging usually makes a negative impression. The listener is seldom fooled by the tactic and is most often simply annoyed.

So what is the right way to answer the greatest personal weakness question?

Going into a job interview, the savvy candidate has a ready response for this one, choosing a genuine (but somewhat insignificant) personal challenge to mention. The answer may also include a short summation of how he or she is already making progress towards conquering this concern.

For instance, the job applicant might describe how he or she has often found it difficult to perform some specific task or to learn a technical skill. Or the challenge may have to do with mastering a foreign language, recovering from a major injury, or facing another life hurdle.

Consider these examples.

“For years, I shied away from public speaking. But, in my most recent position, I was able to gain experience leading small meetings. This helped me to gain confidence in this area.”

“Math has always been a challenge for me. Last year, I took a couple of night classes to brush up on some basic skills.”

“I used to be a terrible typist. Because keyboard usage is a big part of my job area, I have practiced this a lot, and I am gaining ground.”

The trick here is to demonstrate honesty and genuine humility, as opposed to prideful positioning.  The best responses show self awareness and an aim towards personal and professional growth.

A real answer to the greatest personal weakness question may reveal personal progress, but it is not likely to boast of the complete victory and aim at impressing the listener.

Armed with a well-built resume and some aptly-chosen professional and personal references, a solid candidate need not resort to humblebragging, but can field this one potentially dicey question without fear.

After all, the interviewer’s next question is likely to ask for the prospective employee’s top strengths. And, facing such a direct request, the candidate is free to outline as many pluses as he or she can muster. At that point, humblebragging becomes a non-issue, as the interviewee has been invited to crow openly.

Job interviews: Hold the horrendous humblebrags
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High school graduation: 11 basic skills you will need for adult life

Looking forward to high school graduation?

As you complete all of your required credits and courses, you may suspect you are ready for the world. Perhaps you plan to attend a college or university. Maybe you are heading right for a career.

Are you ready? In addition to your high school’s graduation requirements, do you possess the basic skills you will need for the next step?

Here are 11 basic skills you will need for adult life.

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1. Learn how to speak.

Certainly, high school students speak a language of their own. Chat-rooms and instant messaging have created new dialects, filled with acronyms and ever-changing popular phrasings. As a young adult, before you graduate from high school, you really need to possess a working knowledge of proper language.

This does not mean you must speak in flowery formal terms, but you will need to be able to express yourself clearly and confidently.

As a bonus, you should have the ability to speak aloud in group conversations and even to communicate in front of an audience. Teachers grade students for class participation for a purpose! Public speaking skills will serve you well in adult life, from job interviews to social gatherings.

2. Learn how to read.

Basic literacy is a given. At least, it ought to be. A shocking number of students graduate from secondary school without developing competence in reading comprehension. Even if you know how to read, are you able to understand what it means?

Furthermore, to flourish as an adult, you will need to develop a love of learning. Whatever professional pursuit you choose, you will continually be faced with new issues and developments. Keeping current in your field will require reading and constant updating.

Are you up-to-date on current events? Do you read newspapers and magazines? Do you read for pleasure? Do you enjoy learning? Such passions will serve you well in higher education and in the workplace.

Plus, if you ever plan to become a parent, you will find yourself faced with countless opportunities to practice your reading skills and pass along your love of learning!

3. Learn how to write.

The written word can be a powerful thing. Whether you must write a holiday thank-you note, a consumer complaint, or a cover letter to a prospective employer, you will display your writing skills. Vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and organization count for a lot.

If you can express yourself correctly and clearly, you can stand out from the crowd that cannot.

4. Learn how to type.

In ages past, career strategists counseled up-and-comers to hide the fact that they possessed typing skills, to keep them out of the clerical pool. All of that has changed.

No matter what vocation or avocation you pursue, you will need basic typing skills. How many words can you type per minute? Sure, lots of today’s electronic devices have voice transcription capabilities, but basic typing skills are still indispensable.

5. Learn basic computer skills.

Emailing, handling file attachments, and downloading are also essential abilities – whether you use a computer at work or not. Can you compose and upload a file, if required to do so?

Also, are you fairly adept at internet usage and social networking? Do you know how to conduct a quick online search for information on a given topic? Are you capable of ordering items and paying for them online? Can you access or build a database or a website?

6. Learn how to cook.

Simple culinary skills can be quite handy, even in a college dorm. Once you leave high school, you will need to know how to feed yourself. Can you concoct a creative meal, or will you be stuck with canned goods and pre-packaged macaroni and cheese?

Smart high schoolers may pitch in and practice their cooking skills, while they are still residing in the family home. Young men and young women alike will need such skills soon enough.

7. Learn how to do laundry.

Laundering clothing not a complex chore, but it does take a little training. After all, colors must be sorted, and temperatures must be set. A little know-how will prevent you from pouring bleach into the load with your favorite deep indigo jeans.

Folding and ironing are helpful skills as well. Neatly pressed apparel will serve you well in the workplace.

8. Learn how to swim.

Some high schools actually require all students to complete swimming classes before graduation. If yours does not, you might consider learning. Basic water safety is important. If you find yourself in a swimming pool or another body of water, are you able to swim to the edge safely? Can you tread water for at least a little while, until help arrives?

Although adults do occasionally enroll in basic how-to-swim classes, it is far easier (and less humbling) to gain this ability at a younger age.

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9. Learn how to drive.

Most high schoolers will not require much coaching in this area. Freshmen are already counting the days until they can begin taking driver education. Sophomores mark their calendars for the day when they can take their road tests. Still, a surprising number of teens actually graduate without obtaining a driver’s license.

10. Learn how to use a checkbook.

Before you launch into the real world of adult independence, you should learn about basic money management. One first step is to set up a personal checking account and learn how to use it. This includes creating a monthly budget and sticking to it. Very quickly, you will discover that you cannot spend more money than you have in your account without penalties.

Monthly checkbook balancing is an important skill. Compare your own check register (record book) to the monthly bank statement. Keep careful records.

Most young adults will also apply for their first credit cards. Of course, these monthly charges must be paid by check, so a checking account is a must.

11. Learn how to complete a job application.

As an emerging young adult, how will you pay your bills? Most likely, you will need a job. Filling out a job application is an important skill. You will need to gather all of the required information (personal data, professional references, work experience details and other facts).

Got the top basic skills? You go, graduate!

High school graduation: 11 basic skills you will need for adult life
Created by this user – including public domain artwork

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