Do you put your credentials in the footer of every email that you send? If you do, or know others who do, have you ever analyzed the purpose of advertising one’s credentials? What are the ones advertising the letters representing what they’ve studied aiming to achieve when they advertise their presence? It may seem that credentials help others realize your fitness for the position that you’re in, but are credentials really the best measure of this trait?
This article aims to explore the nature of advertising our credentials. It is a sensitive realm to navigate, as the credentials that we hold are closely tied with our personal and professional identity. We’ll make the argument that you should refrain from over-advertising your credentials, and hope to explain why you may see more benefit from doing so. This does not mean you should hide your credentials on your resume or CV. However, be wary of being prideful of the letters signifying the skills that you have mastered.
Though you may not intend it, consistent reminders of the credentials that you hold serve to discourage those who may see themselves as your equal. The people you work with day-to-day are reminded of the things they have not achieved when you constantly wave your own achievements for the world to see. Holding onto your designations and credentials with pride tells others that you consider them important. If you consider your credentials important, and the people you interact with have not attained credentials of equal standing, then they assume that you view them as being lesser than yourself. Their perhaps misinformed assumption is not absurd and is understandable.
Showing off the credentials we’ve attained, whether it’s a degree or a professional designation, serves to separate us from those who don’t have credentials of their own. The very purpose of credentials is intended to be just that.
The perceived difference in expertise between yourself and those who don’t hold the same credentials can give rise to unintended reactions. You will naturally be more challenged in your output, as people who may not hold the same credentials aim to level themselves with you. Seeing that you’re proud of the credentials you’ve acquired, they will be driven by a certain kind of envy in an effort to put a dent in that pride. They won’t admit to doing so – even to themselves – but it wouldn’t mean this tendency does not exist. Think of it as people trying to pick a fight with a professional boxer at the bar, or trying to race a Ferrari that they see on the road. Your designations will serve to boil competitive juices in those who feel lesser.
Advertising your credentials sends the message that you hold yourself above the people who don’t have anything to their name. This notion is likely justified and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your credentials. You’ve worked hard to achieve what you have. However, just because you’re justified in being proud of your credentials, does not nullify how others react to the pride you show. Especially if you work as part of a team, or if you lead one, be careful of showing any signals of elitism. Be careful trying to stand out from the group, as merging in and being a humble, noble leader will benefit you more than proving your worth with letters distinguishing you from the rest.
Skill Over Credentials
It’s best to use credentials to defend your work should someone attack it based on them assuming you lack experience in the field. Do not label all the work that you do with the credentials that you hold. Allow the skills you developed while earning your credentials to shine through and be tested. The act of refraining from being prideful of the credentials you’ve attained will show others that you value your current and future output over your past achievements. It will show them that you’re always looking to improve, rather than remaining constantly attached to your prior accomplishments.
Should someone ask about your credentials, do not hesitate to present them with pride. Make others’ inquiries a trigger to unveiling your credentials, and try not to unveil them by your own accord. If you’re a person who includes credentials any time you write down your name, try testing out this theory. Try to keep credentials to yourself, as badges of experience, and avoid always presenting them in an effort to stand out from the crowd. Stand out with your current and future actions. Stand out with your output of masterful work.
You will not get fired for privatizing your credentials, and you will not be perceived to be less skilled in what you do. Let go of the power your credentials hold in your communication with others in the professional realm. Don’t use your credentials to appear better than someone who hasn’t had the chance to attain what you have. You’ll encourage a better version of themselves to interact with you, as they won’t be influenced by the myriad of feelings brought about by advertising your past achievements.
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