We all know that skills, experience and qualifications are critical to building a successful career.
But without career confidence, you might not feel able to take on a new challenge, or go for that promotion, regardless of how capable you are.
In this blog, we’ll explain what career confidence is and how you can start building self-assurance at work.
What is career confidence?
Close your eyes and imagine you’re standing in front of a roomful of people — your peers, your manager, your head of department, your CEO (don’t worry, you’re not naked).
It’s kind of scary though, right? Except it’s not, because you’re totally in control, you feel prepped and ready to take on whatever they may throw at you. You passionately believe in what you’re doing, and you’re not afraid to ask difficult questions or go after what you want. You back yourself totally, and you know the people around you respect and believe in you too.
That, my friend, is career confidence.
Some people are naturally more confident than others, but it’s a skill we can all cultivate over time — it just takes a bit of work. To be truly confident, you need to own it — yes, positive feedback from a manager might give you a boost, but ultimately it’s down to you and your mindset.
When you’re confident in yourself, you’re more likely to:
- Get hired
- Get promoted
- Push the boundaries and get what you want
- Excel as a leader
- Be happier, healthier and less stressed.
Sounds good, right?
Well, it’s easier than you might think to cultivate career confidence. Here’s how.
How to be career confident
Create a career plan
People feel calmer, more prepared and in control when they have a plan (at least I do). And it keeps them accountable too.
Here’s how to approach your career plan:
Ask yourself what you aspire to be in your career
What excites you? What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Start here
Write out the goals and skills that’ll help you get there
What steps do you need to take to achieve that aspiration? Be specific here — consider the goals that will take you a step closer to career confidence too, like having a killer case study for each of the projects you’ve taken on and aced
Break each goal and skill down into bite size chunks and set deadlines
Career plans can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take it one step at a time
Make a list of what you’ll need to achieve each goal and build your level of skill
Is it extra training? A new qualification? Building relationships with different teams and subject matter experts?
Work through your plan and see your confidence rocket 🚀
Need some inspiration? Explore free career framework templates from some of the world’s best companies at progression.fyi. We've even got a Building Career Confidence skill ready to add to your framework.
Start by listing out everything you’re great at. Impressive huh? See, you’re feeling more confident already. Now it’s time to work out the gaps, and focus on plugging them.
Attend workshops and webinars, use your training budget, and keep learning.
Talk to someone
Believe it or not, that inspirational leader you look up to, the one with all the answers, was you once too. We’re not born confident, and it takes time — and support — to get to where we want to be.
Make use of the people around you — their experience becoming successful can help inform your own journey. Plus, you’ll have a readymade cheerleader to big you up when you’re having a wobble.
Do your research
It’s time to get to know your industry inside out, if you don’t already. Sign up to email newsletters and alerts and follow the right people on Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and thinking in your field. Make your profession your specialist subject.
The same goes for your company — take the time to build relationships outside of your team.
When you feel informed and prepared for any questions that might crop up, you’ll be more self-assured.
Step out of your comfort zone
This is perhaps the biggest ask of all. But it’s also one of the best ways to grow your career confidence. Volunteer for new challenges at work, say yes to new opportunities and projects.
And try to ignore your inner critic. If you have a tendency to think negatively, reframe your thoughts positively. Instead of ‘I can’t do this’, tell yourself ‘I haven’t done this yet’.
If something doesn’t go to plan, focus on what you’ve learnt, and don’t dwell or beat yourself up.
Celebrate the wins 🎉
Learn to celebrate all the things, not just the big ones. Keeping a record of your achievements to refer back to later not only helps you see yourself in a more positive light, but comes in super handy when you’re proving your value to others.
It’s so easy to forget what you’ve achieved when you’re delivering at pace, or focusing on the negatives. In Progression you can recognise your achievements as well as those of your team with Wins, and refer back to them whenever you need to. It’s totally free to sign up to Progression.
Ultimately, confidence comes with time. And the more you do to be career confident, the more comfortable you’ll feel speaking up, asking for what you want, and getting it.
No one wakes up one day with all the confidence in the world — and there’ll be days you feel more confident than others. That’s OK.
But by following these steps, you’re giving yourself a fighting chance. And you might just surprise yourself.