She plonked herself down, announced “I just can’t do this job anymore” then promptly burst into tears. Having heard this several times before, I asked why she hadn’t taken action previously when similar thoughts had surfaced.
After some poking and prodding she admitted that, after seven years with her current employer, she was scared of putting herself ‘out there’ because she wasn’t sure that she had anything of significant value to offer a new employer.
Simply put, she’d lost sight of her worth in the real world.
Does lack of confidence in the currency of your skills have you too staying in a role or company that you have outgrown or are, at best, ambivalent about?
If so, start here (list writing required!):
Know yourself first
Before you kick into updating your CV, take some time to really think about yourself. For example, what have you learned over the last few years – either professionally or personally? What is special about you? How do you contribute to the culture at work? What is your preferred working style? In which situations do you flourish and when do you not? How do you go about solving problems? What’s important to you in the person you report to? What drives you nuts about your leader? When are you at your least effective? Do you like to directly lead or influence others? What bores you? When are you at your best?
Write down the answers to anything and everything you know about yourself. Aim for at least 25 pieces of self-knowledge with no judgment attached.
If you are unsure, ask people whose opinions you trust and whose views will be relevant to your question. (Note: while it may be easier to ask friends or family members, do they see you the way you show up at work? Do they understand and appreciate your business skillset? If so, go for it!)
Evaluate your strengths
List number two. Again, aim to note at least 25 items; no judgement allowed!
Dig into your experience and specifically, your skills. What is it that you actually do? What skills have you developed in previous roles? What skills do you use and supply to others outside of your day job? These could be while you take part in volunteer work, team sports, managing a household, caring for aged relatives, as examples.
It can be useful to review your last few years Performance Appraisals and any appreciative emails you’ve received. What have you achieved? What are you consistently complimented on which you downplay because “Oh, that’s nothing special, it’s just what I do”. If others take the time to acknowledge what you do, perhaps it’s worth you doing so too.
Break down any chunks of work into its smaller parts. A client recently told me that she had brought two complex parts of a business process together. She didn’t consider it worth noting because ultimately, it hadn’t delivered the results expected by the business. She was focused on the overall outcome of the project, not the specific parts she had led, successfully. Detailing her parts in the project improved her confidence right before my eyes!
Now, go through both of your lists and highlight anything you both (i) really enjoy and (ii) consider yourself to be better than average at. While this isn’t a scientific process, the likelihood is that if you really enjoy something and you are better than average at it, it’ll be a strength. Tick that confidence box!
Face the facts, not the feelings
Now look at your highlighted lists and note how you feel when you read over them. This information is gold. It contains what you know to be true about yourself in terms of who you are and what you do well. This is what you have to offer both your current and any prospective employer.
Reflecting on your list should give you enough of a boost in your confidence to propel you to updating your CV (more about that in another article).
But if you feel anything other than encouraged by your list, its worth considering whether you are mistaking your feelings for facts. Do you, say or think, for example “I feel like I’m useless, therefore I must be useless”?
Does this then become a fact in your life’s story when it’s not a fact at all?
Feeling something, in itself, does not necessarily make it true.
But our thoughts do create our reality and in the confidence department, they absolutely play a significant part.
So look at the facts. Are you really useless? How do you know this to be true? What tangible evidence do you have to either support or disabuse this ‘fact’?
Be honest with yourself. Get clear about what’s holding you back from pursuing a new opportunity, whether that’s with your current employer or elsewhere. Your confidence depends upon you facing the facts about your real value-add and then taking action accordingly.
What do you need to do to become more career confident? Tell us here