Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Yes, confidence does make all the difference in the world, especially in the world of career development and management. And I don’t mean false confidence and bravado. That is never attractive and never a winning stance, in any area of life. But I do mean the kind of confidence that comes from true ownership of what one has achieved, especially when perseverance, discipline and hard work were involved. The problem is that many people haven’t taken the time to truly exercise their confidence muscle. And by that I mean taking the time to reflect on your true achievements and how they might translate into positive impact and value add for an employer.
How to begin exercising your confidence muscle:
- Review your educational achievements: Whatever the level of education you have achieved, reflect back to the times you were challenged, stretched, worked really hard and succeeded. It could be in a challenging math class where you learned to rely on the help of classmate for whom the material came easy. But you recognized you needed additional resources, sought them out, used them and met your goal of learning the materials. That shows you stepped up to a challenge, didn’t back down and persevered until you found a way to succeed. Perhaps you’ve earned a graduate degree and had to write a thesis. The work may have seemed daunting at the start but you broke it down into manageable pieces, assembled a project plan and worked hard and diligently to complete a winning thesis. You are starting to see that your exercising a confidence muscle that has to do with standing up to problems and finding ways to solve them. All employers are attracted to problem solvers and this might be a way to show that you are strong and confident and have a track record as a problem solver.
- Review your career achievements: Again, whatever level of employment you have gotten to you have had some achievements. Perhaps you are on an entry level job and you have had to deal with difficult front line customers. How have you handled your frustration with difficult customers. Think back to times you had to be especially patient and use skills and strategies that you learned in some corporate training on your job. Write out some examples of how you’ve done good work like this. Perhaps one of the vendors you work with has commented to your supervisor that you are always reliable and thorough in all of your work. That should build your confidence muscle. Those are admirable skills! If you have been a manager for years you might have had direct reports who developed beautifully under your supervision and have gone on to higher level positions. Have them write a recommendation on your Linkedin profile and save a copy for yourself that you can use in your next job search process.
- Identify the key attributes that really define you: This is a key step in exercising your confidence muscle! Look back at both your educational and career achievements. Circle the ones that are most meaningful to you and use adjectives to define what qualities they represent. You might come us with something like: I am a unique combination of resourcefulness, analytical skills and management expertise. Then, have 2-3 examples to explain how you fill out those capabilities.It is vital to recognize and know how to articulate your value-adds in your career. The best way to go about it is to learn how to exercise your confidence muscle. That muscle is based on real use and examination of the things you have done and the capabilities you bring to work. Onward in strengthening your confidence muscle and learning to move forward with your proven strengths.
Hope you are enjoying your summer,