Ask-A-Career-Coach: Increasing Career Confidence

jobsearchContributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart™

Confidence attracts. I’m not talking about arrogance, which really bothered me when I was a recruiter and still bothers me (because who wants to deal with that!?). I’m talking about quiet confidence, poise, that “it” factor of believing in yourself and knowing you will get things done. Projecting confidence in a job interview, business meeting or sales call is difficult. Many people, even with a healthy dose of overall self-esteem, can still waver in these high stakes situations. Here are some tips for increasing your career confidence:

Keep a wins journal. Every day, document all the wins, big and small, that accrued during the day. It might be as simple as a follow up call you’ve been meaning to do that got done or not losing your temper with a colleague that irks you. If you are trying to specifically improve your career confidence, highlight your wins on the job or job search and any action steps you took to advance your search or career. But don’t forget to include general wins, like maintaining your exercise routine or making a date with your significant other. Your personal wins will improve your confidence in the professional arena. Over time, there are 2 benefits: 1) you will see all the things you have accomplished and have a pattern to recognize what areas are working; and 2) since you now have to document what you’ve done, you have built in some accountability to force you to get stuff done.

Get roasted. In one of my first jobs, I was at a small company having growing pains that led to staff infighting and a corporate shrink being called in to mediate. One of the exercises was for everyone to write down the one thing they appreciated most about each other staff member. Then we all got together, and everyone got a turn hearing what everyone else said about them. I can still remember my turn – I didn’t feel unappreciated there but I was still overwhelmed hearing firsthand what people wrote. It was a little like those celebrity roasts without the wisecracks. An amazing side benefit for me was that many of my colleagues highlighted a quality that I didn’t even realize I had. So, ask people to name specifically your biggest professional strength and to give an example or some evidence about why they feel that way. Here again there are 2 benefits: 1) you will feel appreciated and therefore more confident; and 2) you may uncover a strength not evident to you but plenty evident to others.

If all else fails, employ a workaround.
In an older post on The Glass Hammer, I talked about the substitution technique for interviewing. This is an example of a workaround. You are not getting to the root of the problem and eliminating it forever, but you are finding a way to cope in the moment. Another example of a workaround is enlisting a buddy for an hour to be your accountability partner as you muscle through an hour’s worth of sales calls. Or I carry a picture of my kids to look at before going into auditions (when I was an actor) and now pitch meetings (as a business owner). I instantly get relaxed and grounded and am reminded of the real reason to press on. Workarounds are great and absolutely not a form of cheating. If they keep you plugging away on your search and career just one more meeting or one more day, then they have contributed extra time. And who couldn’t use more time!

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of“>SixFigureStart®, career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters.  Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and other leading business authors) of “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” 2010, Two Harbors Press.  Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline has recruited for leading companies in financial services, consulting, media, pharmaceutical/ healthcare, and technology.Caroline offers a half-hour Complimentary Coaching Consultation to individuals who are interested in experiencing coaching and finding out more about how it can help them reach their career goals. To schedule a consultation, contact her at

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  1. This is a great piece. I would also add that one thing that helps to build confidence is for someone new to a job to do a “listening tour”. Sometimes people question their abilities when they are new to an organization. It helps the newcomer to find out what the concerns of employees without taking them personally so they can really step back and tackle them picking and choosing the degree of difficulty…easy ones to help build credibility within the organization fast which in turn will build your confidence.