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5 ways to communicate new skills to your employer

Hand holding megaphone

At a glance

  • Practicing regular communication with your employer lets you more naturally share and promote your accomplishments.
  • Online platforms can supplement, but not replace, direct communication about your career development.
  • Boost support for your professional growth by aligning your professional development with the company mission.
  • Be sure to share the recognition! Celebrating your co-workers’ wins helps create a positive workplace culture.
  • Get more career insights with University of Phoenix’s newsletter Career With Confidence™, on LinkedIn!

How to master the art of self-promotion

If you’ve gone back to school for a degree or a certificate, you’ve likely already demonstrated the drive to level up your skills, strive for new career opportunities and succeed at work.

Earning a University of Phoenix (UOPX) certificate or degree is reason enough to shout, "Look at me!" from your office rooftop (or at the very least, your online resumé). But having a reason to promote your accomplishment and actually doing it are two different things, especially if you’re uncomfortable with self-promotion and worried about appearing self-absorbed.

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Maybe you’re shy, afraid of being judged or you just don’t have experience speaking up for yourself. Whatever the reason, you might be tempted to do nothing, hoping that, as the adage goes, good work speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens the way you want it to.

In fact, being afraid of self-promotion can railroad your career and possibly even keep you in low-level roles long after you deserve a promotion. So, how do you let your boss know you have skills without coming across as a show-off?

According to Harvard Business Review, “[S]uccess at work depends on being — and being seen as — both competent and likable. … But if you draw attention to the value you’ve created … you risk coming across as a shameless self-promoter.”

Turns out, touting accomplishments without compromising one’s workplace reputation is tricky business. Luckily, mastering the art of self-promotion is a skill that can be learned.

5 key skills of self-promotion

Here, we'll dive into five ways to articulate your value to your boss, minus the cringe-worthy #humblebrag (which, according to science and common sense, isn’t fooling anyone anyway.)

1.   Practice open communication

The first step to increasing your workplace visibility is to practice your communication skills continuously, not just when you update your LinkedIn® profile.

Lisa Severy, PhD, a career counselor at UOPX, underlines the significance of rapport-building with your manager. “Establish a pattern of informing your manager regularly by speaking up in meetings or sending updates as things occur,” she suggests.

This way, keeping your boss in the loop about your new skills or qualifications becomes a natural part of the relationship. Resist becoming “an employee who only bombards a supervisor with her accolades when the latest promotion becomes available,” advises Severy.

2.   Leverage online platforms effectively

In today’s remote work culture, we all know that social media is vital to networking and personal branding. Of course, keeping your LinkedIn profile current is a smart way to stay relevant in the job market.

Still, it should not replace direct communication about your skills with your employer. “People shouldn’t rely on LinkedIn as a good way to inform employers,” Severy explains. For starters, the settings on everyone’s accounts are different, so your manager may not even see the update.

And if your update does catch your employer’s attention, it may have the effect opposite what you desire. “There is the chance that an employer seeing an updated profile will assume that person is starting a job search unless told otherwise,” Severy warns.

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3.   Take advantage of performance reviews and one-on-one meetings

Most likely, you are already meeting with your manager to discuss performance and career progression. So, if you can’t rely on LinkedIn, start taking advantage of those existing scheduled meetings. This ongoing conversation is a perfect opportunity to promote any recently completed training or future certifications you plan to pursue.

Severy adds, “This is a good time for an employee to ask a question like, ‘I want to make sure I keep you updated on my progress. How should I let you know about accomplishments or new skills?’”

By being transparent about your career aspirations, you can help your manager guide you to resources you didn’t know were available, such as company-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs or paid time to complete online courses.

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4.   Align your skill progression with company goals

Tailoring your skills progression to the organization’s goals is a great way to gain company support for your professional development. It demonstrates that you grasp the greater organizational mission and ensures that your skills development is seen as an asset — enhancing both your value and the organization’s capabilities. Win-win!

If you aren’t sure what your company’s goals are, an easy place to start is with your organization’s mission statement. After all, the purpose behind every mission statement is to provide clear goals for employees so they can see how their work benefits a larger objective.

You can usually find your company’s mission statement in your HR handbook and on the website. Still not sure what to look for? Check out the UOPX mission and purpose.

5.   Celebrate the accomplishments of others

Initially, celebrating co-worker wins when it’s you who craves to be seen may seem counterproductive. However, shining the spotlight elsewhere is an essential part of fostering a culture of recognition and appreciation in the workplace.

Lifting up others is an easy way to invest in your social capital, which leads to increased visibility and maybe even more opportunities. If you’re lucky, you might even notice other people returning the favor by championing your successes — which saves you from having to do the heavy lifting outlined above.

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Despite the familiar adage, suggests your excellent work probably won’t speak for itself. Therefore, developing the skills to advocate for yourself at the workplace is necessary, including informing other people about newly acquired skills and certifications. Certainly, self-promotion is a tightrope walk of being seen as confident and competent rather than an attention seeker. But, like all soft skills, you’ll only get better with practice.

And if you’re part of the UOPX family, you may be eligible for Career Services for Life®, so you can reach out to an advisor like Severy to explore more ways to promote your achievements and also take advantage of offerings like career coaching, networking and mentorships. Skills, after all, come in many forms, and they can spell the difference between satisfaction and stagnation at work.  

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Claire O’Brien has led copywriting teams for Hilton Worldwide Corporate’s creative studio and advertising agencies specializing in the real estate, hospitality, education and travel industries. In 2020, she founded More Better Words, a boutique copywriting agency that taps into her global connections. She lives in Costa Rica with her husband and six rescue dogs.


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