10 Signs You’re Selling Yourself Short In Your Career

Charlie Hann
September 20, 2021




Selling yourself short in your career can mean that you're stuck in a job you hate, as well as limiting your earning potential and, more significantly, your happiness. Therefore it's important to learn the signs that you're selling yourself short in your career— from not asking for a raise to doing badly in job interviews. We're also going to look at some simple tips for how not to sell yourself short.


Many signs that you're selling yourself short and not taking opportunities are to do with self-esteem, but, of course, there are other more simple signs like not writing a good CV...



1. You're Miserable

If you hate your job but do nothing about it, this is a sign that you're selling yourself short. Instead of trying to find a new job (or even a change of careers), you just grit your teeth. Taking a close look at what's wrong with your work life can help you move forward in your career and increase your general happiness as you will be living a life you value.



2. Not Asking For a Raise

You never ask for a raise (or a promotion) even though you know you deserve it. A big part of not undervaluing yourself is making sure you get the compensation and respect you deserve. Remember that you have skills, and it's not just luck that you're where you are today.



Read More:

10 tips to ace your salary negotiation

9 tips for making a successful career change

What are your strengths and weaknesses? Answering the question for job interviews

Cover letter examples to win you that job interview


3. Not Recognising Your Strengths

Not being able to recognise your strengths means that you can't highlight them. This will disadvantage you when applying for a job or interviewing. Just because you think a skill is easy or unimportant doesn't mean others, including potential employers, don't highly value it.



4. Playing Down Your Accomplishments

Worse than not recognising your strengths and accomplishments is playing them down. While being modest and not bragging might seem like good behaviour in everyday life, not pushing your strengths and achievements in an interview can prevent you from getting the job.



5. Overusing Qualifiers

Even if you mention your accomplishments, if you just say that you're "quite" good at something, then that's nearly as bad as not mentioning it at all. Using qualifiers such as "quite" makes you look like you're not sure what you're doing, which is equally bad in the workplace or an interview.



6. Saying "No" to Opportunities

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" is a cliché. But it might be true concerning your career. To advance your career, you need to be willing to take a step outside your comfort zone— whether that means accepting a promotion, going back to university or changing jobs. This can sometimes come from a fear of failure, low self-esteem or even depression


7. Not Putting Yourself Out There

If you're looking for a new job or hoping to be promoted, you need to be visible. This means networking, including on Linkedin, and making sure that you have profiles on job search websites like JobNow.Other methods of self-advertising, such as starting a blog, might also be helpful to highlight your expertise in your field.



8. Avoiding the Spotlight

Putting yourself out there is also helpful within the workplace. Apart from not dismissing your achievements, it's good to be able to speak up and make your ideas heard in meetings, to show your boss that you've got what it takes for a promotion (or even just to get them to notice you).



9. Catastrophizing When Job Hunting

If you assume that everyone else going for the same jobs as you are better qualified and more experienced, you're setting yourself up to fail. Taking this attitude makes it very hard to motivate yourself to apply for jobs and interview successfully and means you might undersell yourself and not go for the jobs you're qualified for. 



10. Not Nailing The Job Interview

Some of the signs mentioned above will make you fail in a job interview, but it's important to reiterate that mistakes at either the job application or interview stage will stop you from advancing your career.



How Not To Sell Yourself Short


We've briefly mentioned how you can make sure you're not selling yourself short. But let's revisit some of the main tips.



Make a List of Your Achievements


If you need reminding that you're worthy of more, making a list of everything you've accomplished so far can be helpful and boost your self-esteem. These accomplishments should also make your way onto your CV. 


Fix Your CV and Cover Letter

Without the right CV, you'll never even get in the door. Work on your CV, making sure it's clear and concise and emphasises your skills, strengths and achievements. The same applies to cover letters, which are becoming more and more important for job seekers in today's job market.


Practice Your Job Interview Skills

Practice makes perfect! If you think you tend to undersell yourself in job interviews, it might be helpful to go over common interview questions and practise your answers with a friend or family member. You can also think about tactics like the STAR Method, which can help you ace your job interview.


Deal With Imposter Syndrome

One reason you might be selling yourself short, apart from simple low self-esteem, is imposter syndrome, where you think your skills and experience aren't as good as others think they are and that you are a fraud (or an imposter). Due to structural oppression, imposter syndrome is more common in women and minorities. However, you can get around imposter syndrome by reflecting on your achievements (as mentioned above) and giving yourself some slack if you have issues with perfectionism.


Have you seen any of these 10 signs of selling yourself short in yourself? By recognising you're selling yourself short, you can move ahead in your career and get rid of troublesome roadblocks.