Building confidence at work is something many professionals work on their entire careers. We all know the saying “confidence is key.” That cliche absolutely holds true in the workplace. Confidence allows us to take on challenges we might otherwise have shied away from. It encourages us to apply for jobs we might think are out of reach, and can make us great resources for coworkers. Who doesn’t admire the confident teammate who gives stellar presentations and gets invited to high-profile client meetings? Whether you’re preparing for your first-ever internship or are three years into your job, you may be wondering how to build confidence at work in order to further excel in your career.
Keep in mind that even the most accomplished professionals sometimes wish they were more confident in certain areas. Of course, as you move further into your career, land amazing job offers, and develop valuable skills, your confidence will increase. But in the meantime, here are a few tips that can help you build confidence early-on in your career.
1. Set goals
There’s nothing as satisfying as checking things off a list. Setting goals (and then achieving them) is a great way to show yourself your own worth. This goes for all areas of life, not just your career. Consider making a list of your short, medium, and long-term goals. Don’t hold back! You’ll never achieve that dream goal if you don’t start somewhere. Don’t worry if you’ve never intentionally set goals before – most young professionals haven’t. If you’re setting goals around an internship, try to picture yourself at the end of the placement. What would make you the proudest? What would ensure you’re offered a full-time role? Write each of those things down, and check them off as you achieve them.
2. Know your success metrics
If you have the opportunity to speak with your direct manager, a mentor, or even a coach about how to build confidence at work, they’ll probably ask you about your success metrics. Not only do success metrics make for great interview questions (how is success measured in this role?) they’re a great way to tell how you’re doing. Of course, metrics such as sales numbers or customer satisfaction ratings shouldn’t be the only foundations for confidence. Many factors play into those metrics, including being new to a job, seasonality, or a dip in the overall market. That being said, many managers set success targets to keep employees motivated and to provide an easy way of knowing you’re doing your job well.
3. Dress for the job you want
You know the saying “fake it until you make it?” You’ve probably heard it in the context of a parent telling you to be friends with a sibling or to enjoy high school biology. It’s even more applicable when it comes to your career. Dressing professionally will of course make a good impression with your managers and colleagues. However, it can also serve the purpose of helping to build confidence at work. You don’t have to dress as if you were a Wallstreet CEO every day, but try to place yourself in the shoes of the person whose job you aspire to have. And this doesn’t have to stop at your clothes. Think about the skills that person has, and set goals to learn them. Make a list of the things you admire about that person, and turn it into a checklist for yourself! Before you know it, you’ll be more self-confident, and ready to apply for that job.
4. Ask questions
New employees are often afraid to ask too many questions when they start a job. Nobody wants to seem underqualified or unprepared. More seasoned employees may also hold back from asking questions for the same reasons. However, asking questions is often the most efficient means of learning something, and it helps build your confidence by forcing you to interact with coworkers. You may even get some public speaking practice, if you ask questions in large meetings or presentations. Remember, if you have a question, other people likely have it to, so don’t be afraid to ask.
5. Attend workshops and training
Many companies provide regular learning opportunities for their employees. This may come in the form of regular training, occasional workshops, or even a budget for you to choose your own. Taking advantage of these is a great way to build your confidence. You’ll learn new skills, and may be asked to consider scenarios or challenges from a different perspective. In some cases, you may even get a certification you can add to your professional profile. However, even if your organization doesn’t provide financial resources for continuous learning, there are plenty of free opportunities out there. LinkedIn is a great resource for identifying leaders in your industry, and for attending free seminars and online classes. If you live in a big city or near a university, you may be able to see speakers and presenters on topics related to your work.
6. Find a mentor
Mentors help you build your confidence in endless ways. They provide professional advice, introduce you to useful contacts, and provide constructive criticism. Most importantly, they provide support and guidance. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to find a formal or official mentor. For many young professionals, their manager or even a former university professor can serve as a mentor. As you move through your career, be intentional about developing relationships with people who support and encourage you.
7. Give support
It might go without saying, but being kind and supportive to others around you is a great way to make yourself feel better. Sharing your experiences and tips with new teammates or younger professionals will definitely increase your own confidence. Don’t forget that you do know quite a lot, and have valuable insight and ideas to share. Who knows, you may end up being a mentor yourself!
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