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Guide to Build Confidence for Your Job Search

By Gus Lawson

Job search today is often a tough, painful trip through endless rejection, dead ends, and being ignored. The process can kill, or at least badly damage, your confidence.

Confidence can be tricky, but confidence is essential for a successful job search.

If your confidence is too low as a result of all the apparent rejection, your job search performance can be negatively impacted. You can overthink or overanalyze everything because you are hesitant to act or make a decision, anticipating more rejection.

Your personal image can be tarnished because your lack of confidence adversely impacts your ability to write or speak clearly.

Conversely, if your confidence is too high you can appear cocky, or difficult to work with. Over-confident people may not prepare for tasks because they feel they can wing it.

Complacency from over confidence can reduce preparation time which will often damage performance and eliminate opportunities.

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The Costs of Low Confidence

Low confidence, when not dealt with, can be crippling -- financially and emotionally.

And, low confidence makes all aspects of job search more challenging, often resulting in a lowered expectation and an unsatisfactory job.

How does low confidence show up?

  • You are not comfortable introducing yourself to others. This translates to lost networking opportunities, not meeting those who could potentially help you.
  • You don't seek out those in your network who could possibly help.
  • You don't present your best image, so people don't have an interest in following up.
  • Your responses at interviews are underwhelming, and you don't receive offers.
  • You rule yourself under- or over-qualified, so you don't follow up on potential opportunities.
  • You waste time considering roles that don't challenge you or that are outside your field.
  • You are less likely to negotiate.
  • You take the first opportunity because you don't think others will happen. When you accept a job with that mindset, you can be making a big mistake. Company culture may bring you down, and you end up miserable and looking for another position too soon.
  • There's a strain on your personal relationships. When you are not taking action because you feel overwhelmed, your inaction can cause loved ones to nudge and prompt you. The way they nudge and prompt can also impact your confidence and the relationship.

When we have too much to do in a short amount of time or if we're overcome by emotions or distractions, we can feel overwhelmed. When overwhelmed, it can become difficult to focus on what you need to accomplish.

As it relates to your job search, this could mean you don't reflect about what you want in your next role, spend more time than you wanted to on your resume and cover letter, or don't spend time on all of the other critical tasks required in your job search.

My Personal Confidence Disaster

After a successful consulting project where the client valued our contributions, I was overly confident that I could help any client in the future.

The following two projects showed my over-confidence was hurting me. I struggled to make a positive impact. Zero of my recommendations were implemented, and I was asked to leave both projects.

My confidence took a big hit, but this event was definitely not the end of my career. It was an enlightening learning experience and, although painful, I am grateful to have encountered it.

I recovered, and I started my own coaching and consulting firm to help others navigate to their success.

Recovering Your Confidence

Having the right amount of confidence is critical to enhance your image, communicate effectively, and sell yourself without being pompous.

Just as others have rebuilt their confidence, you can enhance yours. To show you you’re not alone, here are a couple of brief case studies about how two people increased their confidence:

  • One person lacked confidence because she thought she was too old. She was just over 50 and as we explored further, we discovered her lack of confidence stemmed from her belief that her target companies wouldn’t value her because she wasn’t a specialist. By focusing on smaller companies that would value her general consulting and management skills, she felt more confident in her search and, as a result, was more confident in her interview. She landed a great job.
  • Another person was berated by her management and lacked confidence in her capabilities. After inquiring about who she helped and the difference she made, she was able to recall the positive impact she made and could concisely articulate it. After reflecting on these experiences and enhancing her resume, she regained her confidence. She also removed a lot of stress, resumed her fitness routine, and lost 20 pounds. Her confidence is skyrocketing.

The point of sharing these with you is to drive home the point that it is possible to regain confidence. I’ve done it, these two people have done it, and you can too.

Bottom Line

In this guide, we'll help you consider:

  • The costs of low confidence.
  • Ways to ensure you have a healthy mindset.
  • Ways to stop feeling overwhelmed while doing everything needed to find your next opportunity.

What would help you gain your confidence? Send me a note. If you were hoping to see more details, let me know.

More About How to Build Confidence:


About the author...

Career and leadership coach Gus Lawson has helped himself and others regain their career confidence. Whether his clients have been unsure about what to do next, needed to recover from a toxic work environment, or wanted to strengthen their brand, he helps them develop a roadmap and take action to achieve success. A proud U.S. Navy veteran, MBA graduate, and certified executive coach, Gus has made several successful career transitions. Discover more confidence building insights at CareerFidence.com. Follow Gus on Twitter at @CareerFidence, and connect with him on LinkedIn.


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Guide to Build Confidence for Your Job Search:

Guides to Smarter Job Search

  • Guide to Successful Job Interviewing
    How to answer the top job interview questions, handle telephone and video interviews, interviews at lunch, plus sample thank you notes/email.
  • Guide to Personal SEO
    Learn how to identify the best keywords for you and use them appropriately in resumes, job applications, and your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search
    Learn how to develop an effective Profile, leverage LinkedIn Groups, plus more tips for advancing your job search and your career using LinkedIn.
  • Guide to Effective Resumes and Cover Letters
    From the best resume format for you to sample resumes for a range of people (mothers returning to work, laid off, and more), plus cover letters.
  • Guide to Working with Recruiters
    These people represent the "buyers" so they are very important to you. Learn how to work with them effectively.


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