4 essential tips to make you more confident during your job search

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As I hung up the phone I let out a long sigh. I had just finished a call with another woman that told me how much she was struggling with her confidence at work. I wasn’t surprised. Most of my clients openly name a lack of confidence as their number one issue—especially when it comes to job searching. It sadly affects every aspect of their work (and life).

Consider the number of hours you spend focused on your job each day. How many more are consumed hunting around for a job you actually want to do? To not feel good about yourself for the majority of the time you’re awake (literally) is miserable. Women tell me they aren’t confident presenting, applying to new jobs, speaking up, leading projects, asking for promotions and raises, standing up for themselves or colleagues, asking for flexibility, pivoting in their careers, etc.

You name it, I’ve heard it.

Women aren’t comfortable applying for jobs that might be a slight reach, either. You’ve likely seen the statistic that says women don’t apply for jobs unless they are 100% qualified. That means they end up actually applying to 20% fewer roles than men. However, when they do apply, women are 16% more likely to get hired than men. What’s that tell you? Women need to learn how to be more confident at work. Period. The opportunities are there, but we must take the step and put our names into the hat.

So, how do you start to build that confidence at work so you can take advantage of more opportunities (and be happier in your career)? Start with these four tips.

1. What you wear matters

What I hear from working women

Part of why I enjoy working from home is not having to get myself dressed and ready for the office each day. However, I often find myself feeling crummy about how I look.

Confidence at work tip:

Get dressed each morning

In full disclosure, I resisted this tip for a long time. The “mom bun” and yoga pants look that has made headlines for the last few years was me to a T. And now with so many women working from home, they’re following suit. That new everyday look can make you feel bad about yourself. Traditional “in-office” working women are used to showering in the morning, putting makeup on, and doing their hair. But because remote work is so prevalent now, that’s no longer a requirement for many.

I’m all for feeling comfortable, but what I’ve learned recently is that getting dressed each day really helps with my confidence. While I don’t usually put makeup on, I do take five minutes most days to fix my hair. Sometimes I wear jeans and others I might even put on a dress. I still wear yoga pants as well, but I make sure my activewear looks nice and makes me feel put together. Work and life are so integrated these days that I have to be ready for both. That usually means looking nice, while also feeling comfortable.

Keep in mind that I’m not getting dressed for anyone but myself. However, when I jump into a Zoom meeting and see myself on camera, I feel 100% more confident at work when I feel good. Do yourself a favor and try getting dressed tomorrow. See what happens to your confidence!


2. Take a leap

What I hear from working women

My day-to-day is the same and doesn’t really challenge me. I know I could do more but I’m scared to try (and maybe fail). 

Confidence at work tip:

Big or small, start taking steps outside of your comfort zone

Our default state is comfortability. Anything different feels weird. However, comfortable can get really boring and the mundane doesn’t do much to make you feel good about yourself. Taking even the smallest step outside of your comfort zone will reap huge rewards for your self-confidence.

Applying to a job when you’re not 100% sure you’re qualified can feel like a big leap. The questions and imposter syndrome start racing through your head. What if I fail? What if they interview me and realize I can’t do the job?  The reality of work and life is that everyone fails. And that’s okay. Failure opens up opportunities to learn, overcome and try again. 

But what if the outcome is amazing? What if it makes you feel fulfilled and impactful? And what if it creates new possibilities for you in your career? Taking leaps can mean reaching out to a hiring manager about a job or offering to lead new projects for your current team. Asking for a raise or making a case for doing things differently are also uncomfortable steps that can lead to massive change. Think about it this way. If you don’t step out of your comfort zone your job remains boring. There’s no real way to increase your confidence at work because you’re not stretching yourself.

Bypass the cover letter


3. Rewrite success

What I hear from working women

I just don't feel successful when it comes to my work. 

Confidence at work tip:

Allow yourself to rewrite your own definition of success

We all grow up being bombarded with everyone else’s definition of success. Maybe your parents ingrained in you that success meant a six-figure income or a graduate degree. Or, were you brought up believing you had to be a star athlete to be successful? And then maybe you walked into a job and success meant working late hours and climbing your way to the top.

You’ve been following “success metrics” that likely have nothing to do with you for your entire life. While those definitions of success belong to others I bet you’ve done your best to meet those unreasonable KPIs, haven’t you? So, now it’s your turn. Have you ever thought about what success means to you? If not, here are some ideas:

  • Earning enough money to take family vacations while also spending stress-free time with my kids
  • Waking up each morning feeling excited about the workday
  • Having ongoing learning opportunities to keep growing personally and professionally
  • Volunteering my time or money to a cause close to my heart

Write down your definition of success and make that your guiding compass. If you’re headed in that direction you’re right on track to feeling successful. Confidence can’t help but follow.


4. Recognize your zone of genius

What I hear from working women

I'm pretty good at my job but I don't really get much meaning or fulfillment from it. 

Confidence at work tip:

Stay within your zone of genius the majority of your day

This confidence tip is more difficult to implement but probably the most important. Take some time to determine your unique gift. This is what sets you apart from other people. When you integrate your unique gift with your work, you’re likely living within your zone of genius. And that’s when the magic happens.

After you identify your gift or zone of genius, ask yourself this question:

How much of my time is spent working within my zone of genius?

Here’s the kicker: if you’re not within (or have the potential to be) your zone of genius most of the workday, it’s likely time for a career change. Who wants to be working on things they’re mediocre at or don’t really enjoy doing for eight hours per day? Certainly not me or any other women I know. 

But making a career change is easier said than done, right? While it takes some time and effort, pivoting in your career doesn’t have to be difficult. But if you commit to it, I can promise one thing. Your confidence will shoot up like a rocket headed to the moon! We have endless resources to help you with this, including a program called From Stuck to Fulfilled: Building a Work Life You Love

As you can see there are easy confidence boosters like getting dressed for work each morning so you feel good about yourself. Taking a leap is a little harder, but if you start small the steps don’t feel so scary. The final two tips will take more time but pay enormous dividends. In fact, rewriting your own version of “success” and committing to work within your zone of genius will increase your confidence drastically. Start with one and see where it takes you.

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