Networking Expert’s Tip of the Month – March

4 Ways to be a More Confident Job Seeker

Reprinted from Lindsey Pollak’s blog

I’ll never forget what my driving instructor said to my mom while we were waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles the morning of my driver’s license test.

“She has the ability to pass. It’s going to come down to whether she thinks she can pass.”

I failed.

My driving instructor was exactly right. I had practiced enough and had the skills and knowledge to get my license. What I was missing was the confidence to actually do it. I see this same situation all the time with college students and recent grads in the job market. They have the talent, skills and ability to get a job, but they lack the self-confidence it takes to land a position, especially in the ultra-competitive market we’re experiencing right now.

If you’re struggling with self-confidence, here are some tips:

1. Ask for feedback. Recruit a trusted relative, career services staff member, professor or friend to assess you honestly. Often we don’t even realize our strongest assets because they come naturally to us. Ask the person to list your best qualities and most impressive accomplishments. On the flip side, ask for constructive feedback on your weaknesses. Find out if the things you’re most concerned about — lack of experience, a less-than-desirable GPA, shyness, etc. — are legitimate concerns or if you’re obsessing over nothing. If your fears are unfounded, let them go once and for all!

2. Take action on any gaps. If you do determine some important weaknesses, develop a game plan for improving the key skills, knowledge or qualities you’ll need to land the job you want. Take action! Sign up for a coaching session at your career services office, register for an e-course, read a few instructional books or hire a career coach or tutor. Besides gaining the skills you need, you’ll have a great answer to the interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” You’ll be able to say, “I identified a key weakness and here are the steps I took to overcome it.”

3. Overprepare. Think about your confidence level when you walk into a test for which you’ve studied really thoroughly versus how you feel walking into a test for which you’ve skimmed your notes for ten minutes the night before. Most people don’t realize that a job hunt is something you can study for. Before attending a job fair, spend an hour or two on the websites of companies that will have booths. Before a job interview, spend an hour reading the organization’s website (especially the mission statement, recruiting pages and recent press releases) and study the LinkedIn profiles of the people who will be interviewing you. Read e-newsletters and blogs from your industry to keep up with current events that might be discussed at a networking event. The more preparation you do, the more confident you’ll feel when you interact with recruiters and other professionals you’ll encounter during your job search.

4. Seek out recommendations. One of my favorite features of LinkedIn is the opportunity to have people write recommendations that will appear on your profile. This not only strengthens your profile’s value but also reminds you of your best qualities. Ask for recommendations from former bosses, internship coordinators, professors, volunteer coordinators, students you’ve worked with on activities or other people you’ve known professionally or academically. Whenever you need a boost of confidence, go into your profile and read the good things other people have said about you.

~ Lindsey Pollak, Networking Expert, Campus Calm

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