Activating the best of you!

How to Re-Build Career Confidence

Dear Joan,

I read your blog about how to avoid being laid off but the timing was a bit awkward as I had been laid off the week before your article came out. As you might imagine, I am pretty down as I didn’t expect to lose my job and now. I find myself doubting my abilities and judgements. Can you suggest some strategies that might help me to re-build my confidence?



Dear James,

I am so sorry to hear that you lost your job. No matter what the circumstances, but especially if you were not prepared for it, a layoff can be very painful. And although knowing that many people go through it, it is still a very personal pain and an assault to one’s sense of efficacy and value. It can set you back. But you can REBUILD!

The good news is that you still have your skills, capabilities, knowledge, experience and credentials. No one can ever take those away from you. And for most people, they also have some colleagues, supervisors, managers and or peers who see them in a positive light and are willing to be a good reference.

Let’s explore, step by step, how to rebuild that strong sense of confidence, using both past accomplishments and an identification of proven skills and talents. And let’s support and reinforce your proven capabilities by putting them in  writing so you can reflect on them, reinforce them, and eventually use them to build your new sales tools (resume and possibly linkedin profile). And we will have you look to connect with your advocates, our supporters, to secure written recommendations.

  1. Reflect on three times in your work history/career when you were at your best, when you really did good work and were acknowledged for it. When you even enjoyed it and enjoyed being with the people around you. Write up three narratives of those ‘peak performance’ times. Include the scope of your work, your role, your colleagues, the challenges, the resources, the obstacles, the ways you problem solved, the outcomes, your inner motivation, your sense of achievement and any special compensation or rewards.
  2. Then, put those three narratives aside for a few hours or even overnight. Return to them and this time read them to identify the key SKILLS those achievements represented. Then take a look at the skill list. Clearly, you were effective, you had impact and you have skills that can be transferred to another employer!
  3. Make a list of your key advocates; people who know you do good work. Contact them and ask them if they would be willing to write a reference letter for you and to serve as a reference to potential employers. Remind them of the work you did with them or around them. Ask them to tell you their impressions of you (presuming they are advocates of yours!) as it will make you feel good to hear your strengths and past accomplishments.
  4. This part is FUN.  Take 6 index cards or cut out paper in index card size (about 4 X 6″). These will be your CONFIDENCE CARDS and you will take them with you wherever you go until you are reemployed. They are powerful and they will remind you of your powers!  On each card I’d like you to write a key strength or capability that you have demonstrated at work. Then, on the back of the card write out a description of how and when you demonstrated that skill. You have proven skills and capabilities. Become comfortable and compelling in talking about your skills and capabilities. They are your GEMSTONES and no one can take them from you.But you need to be clear about what they are and how to talk about them

And surprise, James, when you really focus on your proven capabilities and practice talking about them and writing them up and having others actually write them up (as your references) somehow they become more REAL and your CONFIDENCE goes way up!

Good luck, James and let me know how you’re doing with rebuilding your career confidence.

Onward to once again bringing the BEST of YOU to work!


Coach Joan

Make your own confidence cards to read whenever you need to re-energize and re-empower yourself.

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