To Sell One’s Self

To Sell One’s Self

By: N.T. Herrgott

Narcissus is a figure of Hellenic tragedy. A beautiful boy who was so obsessed with his own reflection that he fell into a lake and drowned. This is where the word ‘narcissist’ comes from — describing someone who is completely in love with their own appearance, their talents, and their achievements. And while nobody goes to a lake to look at their self, there are other ways to get lost in your own reflection.

The modern job market, for instance.

While that may seem like a bit of a leap, consider how much time is spent focusing on yourself when tailoring a résumé. Given that the most successful strategy to get work is to tailor a résumé to individual positions, you could end up spending a lot of time looking into a mirror. Your resume is a reflection, but what happens when that mirror is designed only to reflect the most positive, endearing aspects of yourself?

Every detail on a résumé is meant to highlight and exaggerate an existing skill or accomplishment. So if you spend so much time in a world where you only your strengths exist, would you forget that you even have any shortcomings? After all, if employers are looking for perfection, the most effective way to be successful is to believe that you are.

I have two questions about this…

First: Have employers set unrealistic expectations for their hiring standards?

There are jobs that require masters degrees that offer close to minimum wage. You can expect no less than three interviews for any given position. I’ve had some friends who have have been dragged through hiring for weeks, basically auditioning for a job. There are entry-level positions demanding new graduates with more than five years of experience. Job boards are filled with insanity like this, but how can we make demands when there are 50 other applicants in line?

Second: Is this kind of self-obsession going to have an impact on our society?

I think that it already has... we don't really like being around other people these days. Marriage frequency is decreasing — and so are childbirth rates. The number of people living with a roommate or alone is rising, while the number of couples in single homes is decreasing. We have become a society which values solitude and isolation, but we proudly call it 'independence'.

I wonder if the importance of the résumé may have created a focus on the self — and so now, we’re just incompatible with other people who need to be as self-promotional as we are. Does an obsessive focus of the self prevent the ability to connect with others on a personal level?

Now, I can’t answer any of these questions, as they would be the responsibility of organized studies. I can say that once you get into a pattern of beginning every phrase with ‘I’, it’s hard to get out of that habit.