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Promoting Your Work and Yourself: The Importance of Effective Self-Advocacy for Mid-Career Academics

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

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Photo shows several words with the word Advocacy right in the middle.
Self-advocacy - Photo obtained from

It's often easier to advocate for others than for us, a paradox that becomes apparent in academia. We find ourselves nurturing younger academics and students to embrace self-promotion, yet stumble when it comes to our own professional growth. The delicate balance of maintaining humility while advocating for one's work can indeed be challenging, especially against a societal backdrop that often equates self-promotion with vanity.

Despite the inherent challenges, successful navigation through academia's competitive environment requires mid-career academics to overcome their hesitations and become their strongest supporters. Effective self-advocacy is a crucial skill set in this journey.

Here are several strategies that can boost your self-promotion efficacy within the academic sphere:

  1. Cultivate your brand: Your skills, knowledge, and achievements make up your personal brand, something that can add value to others. Begin by revising your academic CV, updating your digital footprint, and creating a coherent professional image.

  2. Narrate your journey: Sharing your academic journey can connect with others in a profound way. Disclose your challenges, triumphs, and ambitions. Let people see the person behind the academic accolades.

  3. Network actively: Building relationships within your field opens doors for collaborations, funding, and career advancement. Attend academic conferences and engage in academic societies.

  4. Establish a strong online presence: The academic discourse is increasingly digital. Participate in this space: share your research, voice your thoughts on academic developments, and engage with your peers. Update your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

  5. Participate in reciprocal mentorship: The mentor-mentee relationship benefits both parties involved. Pursue guidance from experienced mentors, while also offering mentorship to your early-career peers. This collaborative learning not only fosters personal development but also strengthens your leadership profile.

  6. Negotiate for your needs: Don't shy away from asking for what you deserve. If it's a promotion, better facilities, or a balanced workload, make sure your voice is heard.

  7. Celebrate your successes: Let people know about your achievements. Each grant won, paper published, or student mentored is worth sharing.

  8. Seek professional guidance: Enlisting the support of an academic career coach can be incredibly helpful. These experts provide tools to improve assertiveness, offer strategies for effective self-advocacy, and help navigate the complex landscape of academia. A coach can provide an external perspective and help you recognize and articulate your value more effectively.

Self-advocacy can seem daunting amidst the myriad of roles mid-career academics play. But remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Start small and gradually adopt these practices.

Self-promotion is not about boasting, but about recognizing and communicating the value you bring to your field. The world needs your expertise, and for it to make the most significant impact, it needs to be seen and heard. With help from an academic career coach, you can step out of the shadows, confidently communicate your value, and contribute more substantially to your field.

Following are books that provide useful information (including tips) about this topic:

Hi! I'm Dr. Marina Silva-Opps. If you're hungry for more insights on academic career success, career reinvention, time management, productivity, and personal development, visit my LinkedIn profile and website, where you can explore a wealth of additional content. And remember, I'm here to help!


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