Confidence attracts. I’m not talking about arrogance, which really bothered me when I was a recruiter and still bothers me (because who wants to deal with that!). I’m talking about quiet confidence, poise, that “it” factor of believing in yourself and knowing you will get things done.
Projecting confidence in a job interview, business meeting or sales call is difficult. Many people, even with a healthy dose of overall self-esteem, can still waver in these high stakes situations. Here are some tips for increasing your career confidence:
Keep a wins journal: Every day, document all the wins, big and small, that accrued during the day. It might be as simple as making a follow-up call you’ve been meaning to do, or not losing your temper with a colleague that irks you. If you are trying to specifically improve your career confidence, highlight your wins on the job or job search, and any action steps you took to advance your search or career. Don’t forget to include general wins, like maintaining your exercise routine or making a date with your significant other. Your personal wins will improve your confidence in the professional arena. Over time, there are 2 benefits: 1) you will see all the things you have accomplished, and data that shows what areas are working; and 2) since you now have to document what you’ve accomplished, you have built in some accountability that will force you to actually get stuff done.
Get roasted: In one of my first jobs, I was at a small company with growing pains that led to staff infighting so fierce that a corporate “shrink” was called in to mediate. One of the exercises was for everyone to write down the one thing they appreciated most about each staff member. Then we all met, and everyone had a chance to hear what everyone else said about them. I can still remember my turn. While I didn’t feel UNappreciated at the company, I was still overwhelmed hearing firsthand what people thought of me. It was a little like those celebrity roasts without the wisecracks. An amazing side benefit for me was that many of my colleagues highlighted a quality I didn’t even realize I had. So, ask people to specifically name your biggest professional strength, and to give you some evidence why they feel that way. Here again are 2 benefits: 1) you will feel appreciated, and therefore more confident; and 2) you may uncover a strength that’s not obvious to you, but is very evident to others.
If all else fails, employ a workaround: In an older GlassHammer post, I talked about the substitution technique for interviewing. While you are not getting to the root of the problem and eliminating it forever, you find a way to cope in the moment. An example of a workaround is enlisting a buddy for an hour to be your accountability partner as you muscle through an hour of sales calls. I carried/carry a picture of my kids to look at before auditioning (when I was an actor) or pitching meetings (as a business owner). I instantly become relaxed and grounded, and am reminded of the real reason to press on. Workarounds are great and are absolutely not a form of cheating. If they keep you plugging away on your search and career — getting through just one more meeting or one more day — they have contributed extra time. (And who can’t use more time?)