Be yourself and be proud


Key takeaways:
– No one is perfect so don’t pretend that you are;
– Be true to yourself and be proud of it;
– Turn your imperfectness into your strength;
– Be yourself and present yourself that way.

I have been coaching a young researcher for some time and she is at the stage of looking for opportunities. If you have been through a few interviews for a starting academic job (such as an Assistance Professor or Lecturer), then you must have struggled, more of less, presenting yourself as the best candidate for that job.

I mentioned in my last article that what matters (in a job interview) is not how good you are, but who you are competing with. Naturally, the next question to ask is how to win in the competition.

Very few of us have perfect CVs and many of us had bumpy journeys through a few jobs before landing on this interview. The particular issue with my coaching client is that she worked in the industry for a few years after finishing her PhD. In the western culture, this is quite a positive thing to highlight in a CV when attending an academic job interview. However, this is not entirely the case when you have such a CV and you go for an interview in Asia.

I coached my client how to turn her ‘weakness’ into her ‘strength’ for the interview and she seemed happy when I had a conversation with her after her interview. I happened to know one professor in the selection committee who interviewed her on that day. In a casual conversation through Skype with that professor a few days after my client’s interview, I asked (off the record!) how my client went about in the interview. ‘She was good, in general and she was confident’, the professor said. ‘But’, he continued, ‘she had a career break from academia and she had no publications during those three years.’

‘Isn’t it normal that people don’t have time to write journal papers when working in the industry?’ I asked. Well, it’s normal to me but clearly in some cultures, people look for abnormality and treat it as a sign of superiority. I don’t agree with this at all.

I was happy that I coached my client to be herself and be true to herself in the interview. No one is perfect and there is no need to pretend to be perfect. What one should do is to be true to yourself and be proud of yourself. Try to turn your ‘weakness’ into your ‘strength’ and solider on in your life.

You will be proud of yourself, I believe.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @
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