How to boost your career confidence in five easy steps

Are your career confidence gaps holding you back and limiting your pay? Here’s how to boost your career confidence in five easy steps.

As much as we may love our jobs, there are often parts of it we dread. Maybe it’s networking, or chairing a meeting? Recent research across a range of industries has shown that the top three areas women lack confidence at work in are:

  1. Asking for a pay rise (43%).
  2. Making a presentation or speech (40%).
  3. Networking (34%).

This are closely followed by chairing a meeting, competing with colleagues and dealing with an intimidating boss or colleague.

While it’s quite normal to dislike part of your job, when the parts of your job you’re uncomfortable with or avoid are instrumental in your career progression or the amount you’re paid, it becomes a problem.

Why can’t women ask for what they want?

Many of the areas of work women typically find difficult relate to asking for what they want, and standing up for themselves. So why do we feel like this? What is going on that keeps us playing small and not asking for what we want? Why are we getting in our own way?

We’ve all experienced the nagging self-doubt, the vocal inner critic. Not to mention the comfort zone that we daren’t leave because we’re scared we might mess up.

Ironically, many of these areas that we lack confidence in are key to progressing and developing in our career. And many are situations we can’t avoid. So finding strategies to boost your career confidence is important for your career development.

What are your confidence gaps?

In order to plug any career confidence gaps, you need to know where they are. So how many of these are you guilty of:

  • Procrastinating – putting things on hold, putting them off, being indecisive, letting fate decide for you. You spend too much time thinking about all the things that could go wrong, whether you should do it or not, that the opportunity passes you by. You’re left feeling frustrated or stuck.
  • Talking yourself out of taking action – whether that is talking to your boss about a pay rise or applying for a new job. Your inner critic may kick in  and convince you that you didn’t really want the opportunity anyway, it’s the wrong thing to do or that you’re not good enough. The problem with this is how you feel afterwards – deflated, like you’ve let yourself down, taken the easy option or not pushed yourself.
  • Avoiding opportunities – you know you could volunteer to present at the next team meeting, lead the client feedback session, or act up while your boss is away but you ‘hide’ away, don’t let anyone know you’d like the chance and let someone else shine instead.
  • Not believing in yourself – letting your negative self talk erode your confidence by reminding yourself of times when things haven’t gone that well, rather than focusing on your successes.

Five techniques to increase your career confidence

Once you’ve identified your career confidence gaps, here are five techniques you can implement to increase it.

1) Make a decision

Deciding that you want to be different is a great start. There is no magic wand – it requires hard graft but being focused on making a change is the first step.

2) Focus on what you do well at work

Create an achievement journal or ‘brag book’ to capture examples of things you are proud of, things that have been challenging, big and small successes, and feedback. This will also help with evidencing why you should get a pay rise or when you update your CV.

3) Rewrite your inner narrative

Notice the story you tell yourself at times of stress or when faced with doing something new. Notice what you say about what you don’t like doing and what you’re not good at.

Rewrite this as a more positive aspirational script of how you would like to be. For example, if you say to yourself ” I hate networking- I’m no good at talking to new people” you could rewrite that as ” I know networking is valuable to me and my career development and I have the potential to engage with new people if I choose to.”

Focus on this new script and repeat it to yourself to embed it – this is very important as it has to replace the negative script you have been repeating for years. Changing your mindset about how you approach something is very powerful but it does take time and perseverance.

4) Look out for positive people

Having positive people around you can help you while you work on your confidence. Research tells us that positive and negative emotion are contagious so avoid the ‘moaning minnies’ at work and surround yourself with people who want to develop too and have a positive approach to work.

5) Find a buddy

Ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner. They can help you stay on track with the changes you want to make. If you set yourself goals, for example, I’m going to talk to my boss about taking on a new project or asking for a pay rise in one month’s time, it is much more likely you will do it if someone is holding you to account.

Being confident at work means being brave. Being brave means being true to yourself and what you want. Dig deep and take control – what are you waiting for?

Sarah Archer specialises in helping women discover work they love and boosting their career confidence to achieve career success. Download her FREE Career Confidence quiz from her website to test your career self belief.