How to job hunt with confidence and fearlessness in uncertain times.
The coronavirus is spreading across the world — and so is a sense of uncertainty.
Most of us are working from home, and many for the first time. And switching to a remote style of working means more virtual calls and less non-verbal cues, leaving us feeling totally out of sorts.
That’s not the only major shake-up: A number of people around the world have also been laid off or furloughed as our companies struggle to adjust to the new reality. They don’t know when they can go back to work, which naturally leads to anxiety.
Having a sense of career confidence and clarity during these uncertain times is hard. I won’t sugarcoat that — but I’m also here to tell you that it’s not impossible.
If you were job hunting or preparing for a promotion or career change before the outbreak, you might be wondering if you should continue or put it on hold for now.
Here’s what I know: In times like this, the market slows down and companies are more hesitant to hire and promotions are put on hold.
That doesn’t mean you should pause your career dreams and goals. While this pandemic may be unprecedented, the world has gone through market slowdowns before. And what happens? We bounce back — often bigger and stronger than before.
How to take back control of your career
We all get to the point in our careers where we think about the changes we’d like to make, the roles we’d like to have, and the milestones we’d like to hit.
But our minds can quickly shut those ideas down, telling us we’re not good enough or that we don’t have the experience to turn our dreams into reality.
I see this all the time with my clients, and I get it. Because I was once in the same place.
From my personal and clients’ experience, I know there’s one thing that holds us back from turning these ideas into reality and moving forward in our careers.
And that’s confidence.
A lack of confidence in ourselves, our abilities and our work can prevent us from building the career we deserve!
It can stop us from asking for that raise, applying for that promotion or pursuing new and exciting career opportunities. Why? Because we don’t believe we can or should.
But here’s the thing. No-one else is going to do those things for you. It’s up to you to change your situation, and it’s up to you to build your confidence.
And here’s the good news. Though confidence is a character trait that comes more naturally to some people, I also believe it’s a skill that anyone can learn.
So if confidence is the key to creating a career you love and landing your dream role, it’s an essential skill to develop if you want to get ahead.
How I developed my confidence
I started my career feeling inadequate, underqualified and like I didn’t belong.
There was a part of me that was a little scared to go to work every day.
I used to dress up in a pencil skirt, jacket and heels, and pile on the makeup in the hope that I would look older than my 21 years. I also secretly hoped that if I looked the part, it would distract people from realising I had no idea what I was doing!
And I really didn’t. I’d scored the job, but I was inexperienced and still figuring out how the corporate world worked. Now, 20+ years later, I know that was okay — after all, it was only my second proper job and my first one in recruitment. I’d never done that type of work before, so how could I possibly know everything?
At the time, I was recruiting for accountancy roles. By the way, this was back in the days when we didn’t have Google to rely on! But luckily, my Dad was an accountant and I’d done two weeks of work experience at his office the previous summer. I knew what a purchase ledger was, but that was about the extent of my accountancy knowledge. Suffice it to say I had Dad on speed dial — the height of technology back then! — to give me the lowdown on new roles when they landed on my desk.
In hindsight, I had a “fake it or make it” attitude and didn’t even know it!
Though I was busy “faking it,” I still stepped out of the tube every morning with a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was a ball of nerves, with an overly chatty voice in my head: “What the f*&k are you doing? It’s a matter of time before they find out you haven’t the faintest clue about accounting!” I had to make an effort every day to walk tall, speak without my voice shaking, and pretend I was an expert in the field.
Then the thing I was dreading happened: I almost got caught out.
A VIP client asked what I knew about accountancy and why I was qualified to help him recruit for his business.
YIKES! My initial thoughts were: Think fast or make a mad dash out of the office. But I was so determined to be professional that I decided to stay and answer the question honestly. I told him I wasn’t a qualified accountant, so I didn’t know everything. How could I? I threw in that I’d grown up around accountants (my Dad and uncle). And I let him know about my work experience stint, not that it was hugely impressive to a CFO of a large, blue-chip business!
But I didn’t stop there.
What I did next
I went on to tell him what I was good at, and how my skills would lend themselves to this task.
I explained I was a people person who was intrigued by helping people to find their perfect career match. I told him I had an understanding of what people wanted from their jobs above just performing the day-to-day duties. I said I was an eager learner, and excited to learn more about his business so I could go off and find someone who was the right fit for not only the role, but this team and company.
As I spoke, I became more and more confident. It was the first time in my (short) career that I felt like I truly knew what I was talking about.
And it worked! It got him over the line and I managed to secure him as a client!
Looking back, I’m not sure what shifted during that conversation. But I did know I didn’t want to go into work feeling like I wasn’t good enough, like I couldn’t do my job, and like someone was going to “catch” me. I also knew that I’d never know everything about accountancy — and never wanted to! And that’s okay, because it wasn’t my job.
Somewhere along the way, I decided to focus on what I did know, what I did enjoy and what I was good at.
Honestly, it’s what got me the job in the first place. It wasn’t my love for accountancy or my two’ weeks worth of experience at my dad’s firm. It was my people and communication skills, my passion for helping people in their careers and my curiosity about jobs and companies.
From that point on, I decided to make this exercise a part of my personal development. I wrote down my skills and strengths, and read through them every morning so I walked into work with a renewed energy and focus. This simple exercise boosted my confidence levels in a huge way.
I didn’t know about the power of affirmations; they weren’t really a thing at the time. I just wanted to feel better about myself, and this exercise helped with that.
How this confidence exercise helped my career
Although I had overcome a huge career confidence hurdle, it didn’t just go away. I certainly didn’t just ooze confidence from that point on! I had to work on it.
That feeling of “not being good enough” popped up again and again, often when I was looking to change roles, going for a promotion or asking for a pay rise.
Oh, I can still feel the shudder that would ripple through my body when I asked about a promotion or pay rise!
Over time, I realised that going back to my technique I’d used all those years ago really did help me.
It was all about clarifying what I was good at, what I enjoyed and what I wanted to do more of. Then, as I gained more experience, layering that with some tangible achievements. This was a great way to boost my confidence and “show and tell” people what I excelled at, too.
And I now really do know the power of affirmations, and they’re something I still use today. Some of my favourite affirmations are:
- Let’s give it a go and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.
- You’ve got this — you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone before and it was okay. You can do it again.
- I am enough. I’m exactly where I need to be and everything is falling into place as it should be.
Take your career confidence to the next level
My career hasn’t been a smooth ride, but I’m grateful for all the bumps, twists, and turns. Thanks to these obstacles, I have the first-hand experience that once sent me searching for the answers myself — and helped me to stumble on my career confidence exercise. Luckily, I can also ask Google for help when I need it!
If you’re at a turning point in your career and in need of a confidence kick, I’ve put together a Career Confidence & Clarity workbook for you.
Designed to complement my one-on-one DREAM Career Coaching Program , the workbook runs through the four steps to career confidence. It includes a bunch of handy exercises you can do at your own leisure, and you can download it here.
If you decide to sign up to the coaching program, you’ll also score the following:
- An A-Z immersion in everything you need to know to figure out what you really want in your career and make it happen.
- Personalised ‘Career Clarity’ and ‘Discovery’ assignments.
- 6 x 1-hour one-on-one coaching calls with me over 12 weeks.
- Access to my industry know-how and proven strategies from years of working in high-flying recruitment roles.
And let’s get you the career you deserve!
Adele is a Career Coach & Recruitment Expert with a mission to put you on the path to career happiness and success.
With twenty years’ experience in the recruitment and coaching industry, she has a gift for rescuing people from jobs they don’t fully enjoy.
She’s a slayer of limiting beliefs, a champion of “I love my job” syndrome, and a believer in you deserving a better career.
She works with people feeling stuck, unhappy, or lost in their jobs to help them transform their wild career dreams into living, breathing REALITY.
She’s placed thousands of candidates in positions that harness their unique skillsets, passions, and ambitions.
Check out more career development and job-search advice at: www.adeleleah.com/blog