How to remain confident while building a career

Career Advice
04 November 2016 | Career Advice | Guest Author

When you're a student, most of the time you're not fully aware of the things that are waiting for you when you finish your studies. When you're in your teenage years, your goals can be pretty simple, such as "make it into a proper college" or "get good grades". After you graduate, the situation gets a bit more complicated: employees are expecting you to have a certain set of skills, experience and knowledge in order to hire you. This may be a bit sudden to some who haven't been preparing for "real life" that awaits them. However, this doesn’t mean that you don't need confidence and effort to accomplish your goals during your student years as well.

The whole process of starting your career can affect your confidence and shake it up. Here's how to survive the career building process and remain confident despite the challenges!

What do employers look for?

Some of the skills most often needed by the employers are the ability to be a team player, make wise decisions and great communication skills. These skills are required regardless of what you have studied, or the job you're applying for. According to other surveys (the Chronicle of Higher Education) the most important factor that decides whether you'll be hired or not is an internship and other relevant experiences outside the academics.

So, if you think that the fact that you enrolled a top-notch college will give you the advantage over other candidates, you're wrong. To increase your chance of being hired, do some work before you graduate. Volunteer for a cause that you're passionate about, even if it's not related to the type of work you'll be doing in the future. This will build your confidence, work habits and improve your soft skills, as well as and teach you that every experience you can gain is precious.

How to show confidence during the interview

You make only one first impression – the moment we meet someone new, we create an opinion about that person that it's hard to get rid of later. Remember this when going to your job interview. The research shows that the employers decide whether they'll hire someone or not in the first 4 minutes of the interview. What can you do to leave the best impression possible?

Sit straight and try to look your interviewers in the eyes, as much as possible. We are all anxious during the interview, but try to focus on the reward that comes after. Prepare well before the interview, and practice in front of the mirror, if needed. Breathe deeply and try to calm your hands and legs (don’t get fidgety). Speak slowly and tell the truth about your skills and experiences. Listen carefully what interviewers have to say and ask them questions at the end to show your genuine interest.

How to bring back the lost self-confidence

Failing the exam or not getting the job that you want may seriously shake up your self-confidence. This can especially happen if there are other stressful events going on in your life. Not many situations can be frustrating as trying to find work for months. Also, resilience to stress and things that normally wouldn’t disturb us that much can drop when times are tough, or if you generally have a lower self-esteem.

Being resilient or not, there are several ways to help yourself when your confidence takes a significant blow. Don't give up on trying and taking risks and every time, you wish to give up – don't. You'll be proud of your persistence later. Engage in activities that will provide you some "small wins" and where you can show your capabilities (a hobby you're particularly good at). Finally – look at your "failure" from a different perspective. One lost job is not a dead end. There are many more successes waiting for you.

Staying confident in the workplace

Succeeding in getting the job that you've always wanted is not the end of your efforts. At work, most of us have to deal with unpleasant tasks, assignments that we struggle with, unexpected difficulties and we are always subjected to criticism of others. All these situations require you to boost your confidence so you can step out of your comfort zone and advance in your career.

How to maintain confidence when times are tough? Always have in mind that you made it this far, and remember all the skills and competencies that brought you where you are. Accept the constructive criticism rationally and think of how you can improve your abilities. Be aware of the fact that there’s no real advancement without failing now and then, and that failures and mistakes the things that helps us to dig up our true potential.


Mila Payton writes for Australian Institute of Business. She holds a Bachelor degree in International Business. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and travelling.

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