Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service, and is a certified transformational coach. She possesses nearly 20 years of experience as a career coach. In this exclusive feature, Lori offers her essential advice for becoming more confident in your career and, with the help of a case study, shows you how you can conquer your interview fears and achieve your career goals in 2020 and beyond!
Whenever I meet with a potential career coaching client, one of the first questions I ask is: ‘What do you wish you had more of: time, money or confidence?’ The majority of people respond with confidence as their top choice.
Confidence seems to elude so many people. Why is this?
K.Ann Renniger, as professor at Swarthmore Collage has reported that, before the age of 8, children will try anything. It’s between the ages of 8 and 12 they start to compare themselves with their peers and then continue to do so throughout much of their adult life. If they’re not as good as their peers at something, they become insecure. And insecurity is the opposite of confidence.
I find Renniger’s report fascinating. You’d think the older we get the more confident we’d become. I mean, the older we are, the more we know, and the more we’ve learned from our experiences. But it’s so easy to fall into the comparison game. Especially in today’s culture when everyone posts their ‘best’ on social media for all of us to see. Rarely do you see an Instagram post of someone looking or feeling their worst. Therefore we often end up comparing our worst to others’ best, which is like comparing apples to oranges.
I’ve found in my career coaching that comparison is also likely to increase when a person is going through a career transformation. This includes:
- When applying and interviewing for a new job against other candidates
- When competing for a promotion against another co-worker
- When starting a business that’s in competition with another business
This is likely why so many people I talk to are craving more confidence. This is especially so when they’ve tried to approach their career transition on their own and aren’t seeing anything come to fruition. Either their resume is not getting them the interview, or their interview is not getting them the job offer. Their lack of negotiation skills is keeping them from landing the big promotion. Or, their inability to articulate their personal brand is preventing them from getting their business off the ground. Instead of looking for help to improve in these areas which can build their confidence, they start wondering what their competition has that they don’t have. This is a waste of time and it breeds further insecurity. More insecurity means less confidence. Less confidence means less career opportunities because no one wants to hire, promote or invest in someone who isn’t confident.
Case study: Jamie’s story
Jamie came to me feeling very deflated. On a scale of 1-10, her confidence level was at a 4, an all-time low for her. That’s because she hadn’t been able to find a job in two and half years. I’m surprised her confidence wasn’t even lower.
Jamie was in her late twenties, a veteran who had proudly served her country, possessed an MBA, and had started her own animal rescue non-profit. She was very skilled but for some reason she wasn’t able to land a job offer, or sometimes even an interview, despite the fact she was applying to companies that claim they prefer to hire veterans.
She knew there was something she was missing. She just didn’t know what that was. After two and a half years she recognised her need for someone to point her out the blind spots and show her the way.
Jamie’s career ‘makeover’
When I began working with Jamie, it quickly became apparent that she just needed to make some small tweaks on her resume and learn some new interview skills she’d never previously learned. There were some things she’d included on her resume that she thought were assets but instead were being viewed as liabilities by recruiters and hiring managers. I had her remove those from her resume immediately. Just a couple of days later Jamie got a call for an interview – her first in several years.
I spent a few sessions preparing her for the interview, teaching her the interview skills she lacked and doing mock interviews with her while providing feedback on how to improve.
Jamie: ‘I had no idea until now what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!’
Me: ‘Given what you’ve learned in these sessions, where on a scale of 1-10 is your confidence level now?’
Jamie: ‘At least an 8!’
A week later, Jamie got the job offer. In fact, the gentleman who offered her the job commented: ‘By the way, you gave a really good interview. I have a family member who has a job interview coming up. Do you think you could help her prepare for it?’
It doesn’t stop there
After Jamie accepted the job offer, it was time to shift focus. I told her with her remaining sessions we could start positioning her for promotion at her new company – if that was her goal. She said it was, but was told in her interview that new employees aren’t typically promoted until they’ve served a full 12 months. I told her that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning now. We worked on things she needed to do in her first 90 days and within her first six months on the job. Nine months later, Jamie was already being considered for promotion.
Jamie’s confidence started to grow after she admitted she didn’t know what she was doing and sought help. It was this help that increased her confidence. Undoubtedly, her new-found confidence carried over into her interview, resulting in a job offer and eventually a promotion!
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