Confidence at work is absolutely essential. More than 60% of employers list confidence as one of the top traits they are looking for in new hires, and according to a recent survey of 2,000 British women, 48% believe that it is a lack of confidence that holds them back in their careers. These women surmised that if they didn’t have these career issues, they would be two to five years farther ahead in their careers.
So how do you boost your professional confidence? How do you achieve that intangible trait that may be just as important as what's on your resume? How do you act like a grownup when you feel like a kid playing dress up in your business casual attire? We've got some ideas.
1. Start taking notes on what you do well
Create your own brag list. This sounds obnoxious but it really isn't. Every time you head a project or receive praise, take note of it. That way when you go in to ask for a raise or promotion, you have a clear record to refer to. It will remind others of your achievements, and help you to recall the contributions you're making.
2. Work on your body language
If you haven't watched Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy's brilliant TED Talk on body language, you're missing out on a wealth of information. I saw Cuddy speak at a Marie Claire Power Luncheon earlier this year, and she talked about how female students at Harvard Business School look just as good on paper as their male classmates when they enter the school, but they begin to come off as weaker as the year progresses — the men simply come off as more powerful while the women do not. She could see female students literally condense their bodies and make themselves smaller during class, and this behavior continues into the workplace. Cuddy sees this kind of body language amongst very powerful women who are often surrounded by men. Women tend to condense when they have power in a domain where they are not supposed to and that is how their body responds (for an example, look at any picture of Kristen Stewart on the red carpet or doing a talk show.)
But Cuddy has found that even the simplest tweaks to body language can alter your physiology and help you approach a situation differently. Power poses include putting your hands on your hips (known as The Wonder Woman pose), standing with your legs spread apart a bit, or just adjusting your body so that it takes up more room at a table. When in doubt, just move like Beyonce.
3. Look the part
That old adage "dress for the job you want, not the one you have" is true. Always dress up — looking better gives you more confidence. LinkedIn's Career Expert Nicole Williams, the bestselling author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, believes that a professional blowout can literally give you a boost of confidence. “The better you feel, the more likely you are to feel confident and fearless.” Williams says. Clothing that makes you feel confident is like your armor before charging into battle.
4. Ask for feedback
When you really care about doing better you need to learn as much as possible. By asking for feedback, it shows that you really care. Plus, if you ask you will cut down on the stress of worrying whether you are doing something right or not.
5. Celebrate your victories
When you achieve something, celebrate — whether it's by cooking a delicious meal, buying something you've had your eye on, or spending a night out with friends. Rewarding yourself will help you remember how good this feeling is, and you'll be motivated to feel that way again and again.
6. Fake it
It has now been scientifically proven that you can literally fake it 'til you make it. New research suggests that imitating confidence can both trick people into thinking you're actually confident, AND lead in turn to actual confidence and competence. So even when you are scared sh*tless, smile, stand up straight and convince everyone you are an expert and who meant to spill coffee all over her blouse.