02/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Job Seekers, Don't Sing Your Praises! Hiring Managers Urge Modesty

Last summer, Lisa Harrell interviewed a candidate for a director job who offered a list of impressive accomplishments. But during the 60-minute meeting, the Ivy League candidate never paused long enough for the recruiter to ask just how he executed on them.

"In the end, he took a breath and said, 'After my first 90 days, what is my next step?'" recalls Ms. Harrell, vice president of human-capital development at UnitedHealth Group Inc. in Minnetonka, Minn. His bravado cost him the job, she says.

When it comes to self-promotion in the workplace, hiring managers say some people go too far and block their path to the next level. You might call them the corporate world's "American Idol" wannabes. Like many contestants on the reality TV show who extol the greatness of their singing abilities and then end up sent home, corporate idols sing praises about their abilities without delivering tangible evidence to back up the claims.

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