The Surprising Secret to Selling Yourself


Potential may trump actual accomplishments when judging job candidates, according to researchers at Stanford University.

The Surprising Secret to Selling Yourself

By Heidi Grant Halvorson  for Harvard Business Review:

There is no shortage of advice out there on how to make a good impression — an impression good enough to land you a new job, score a promotion, or bring in that lucrative sales lead. Practice your pitch. Speak confidently, but not too quickly. Make eye contact. And for the love of Pete, don’t be modest — highlight your accomplishments. After all, a person’s track record of success (or a company’s, for that matter) is the single most important factor in determining whether or not they get hired. Or is it?

As it happens, it isn’t.

Because when we are deciding who to hire, promote, or do business with, it turns out that we don’t like the Big Thing nearly as much as we like the Next Big Thing. We have a bias — one that operates below our conscious awareness — leading us to prefer the potential for greatness over someone who has already achieved it.

A set of ingenious studies conducted by Stanford‘s Zakary Tormala and Jayson Jia, and Harvard Business School‘s Michael Norton paint a very clear picture of our unconscious preference for potential over actual success.

Read the entire post–The Surprising Secret to Selling Yourself–on the Harvard Business Review blog.

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