How can I become more confident?

Three business women sharing a high-five

How can I become more confident?

June 20, 2022

Three business women sharing a high-fiveYour confidence plays an important role in your career, especially in terms of your success.

Having confidence allows you to take risks. It gives you the courage to request assignments on high level projects and to speak up for yourself when your boundaries are compromised. It is an overall feeling that you can manage most situations without fear of doubt.

If you feel like your confidence could be better, trust me that you are not alone. We all have areas in our lives where we wish we were more confident. Happily, you aren’t stuck with your current level of confidence. This is something that you can work on and improve!

What are you doing to become more confident?

Building confidence takes time, effort, and your willingness to take risks. You have to be willing to lean into the concept popularized by Thomas H. Palmer: “If you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.” You must be willing to fall short (I am not a fan of the word failure) each time you attempt to do something new. That is what learning is all about, and confidence comes with working for your eventual success.

A recent conversation with one of my clients highlights the challenge that most of us face when it comes to our confidence. She was telling me about a stressful, difficult experience that happened to her one time in college. As she told me her story, she realized that many of the decisions she’s made about her career were based on that one, single experience. We talked about how important it is to not define ourselves by one moment in time; that we need to look at the many other moments that were positive and use those to ground our self-perception and our confidence.

How about YOU? Are you ready to begin building your confidence?

Use the process below to start growing your confidence one step at a time.

First, identify your unique challenge:

Grab a piece of paper and draw two vertical lines so that you have 3 columns.

  1. In the left column, identify the situations where you especially struggle with your confidence. Get really specific. The clearer you can be about where you struggle with your confidence, the easier it will be to focus on improving it. For example: If you lack confidence when speaking in public, list some situations that come to mind. Giving a speech at a conference? Being on stage in a play? Or being at a party with people you don’t know?
  2. In the middle column, identify what you believe may be the source of your lack of confidence in each of those situations. Was there one incident in your life or several that contributed to this struggle? What did someone say to you that affected your confidence?
  3. In the right column, capture your thoughts, emotions, and actions that you associate with each of those situations where you don’t feel confident.

Second, select one situation from your piece of paper that you want to work on, and do the following:

  1. Find opportunities to practice the thing that you envision. Now is your chance to take that risk. Start small and choose to be ok with the fact that it may not go perfectly the first time, or the second. But the more you do it, the more confident you will become.
  2. Before you actually step into that situation, visualize yourself doing it confidently. Be very specific! For example, if you want to become more confident with giving a speech at a conference, visualize yourself up on the stage giving a speech with total confidence. What would you be thinking if you were confident up on that stage? What would it feel like to be so confident? As you visualize, think and feel those things as if you were actually up on that stage, feeling confident.

Developing a stronger foundation of confidence takes time and it does not happen overnight. Celebrate your successes and learn from your challenges. You’ve got this!

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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How to Make Sure You’re on Track: An Assessment

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How to Make Sure You’re on Track: An Assessment

June 6, 2022

pictured: book with the word assessment on the coverThe journey to finding a job and career you love can feel like a long one. How are things going? Answering that question is something that we don’t do enough of. While I’m writing this at the half-year point (hello, June!), there’s never a wrong time to stop and assess your progress.

Here’s why:

First, it can confirm that you are still headed in the right direction. In this busy and distracting world, it’s easy to fall off track and wander away. Reviewing your progress can help you make sure you’re still on track and, if you aren’t, make the necessary corrections that will save you time and effort.

Second, I like to use these to celebrate how far you’ve come. An assessment, or as I like to think of it – an Accomplishment Review! – can bolster your energy and refresh your focus.

Are you ready? Grab a piece of paper… here we go!

PART I: IDENTIFY

  1. Identify all the steps you took over the last six months to move yourself towards your goal.
    These should be fresh in your mind so you can remember the details. List them out so you can see what you’ve accomplished!
  2. Identify any problems you experienced. Think of these as PARs (Problem, Action, Result) and capture them in that way. It’s important for you to not just see the problems you experienced, but also what you did about them and what happened as a result. These may be problems along your journey to building your career; they can also be problems you solved at work. It’s important to note those for future interviews!
  3. Identify any skills that you developed or strengthened. Consider both functional skills (head) and soft skills (heart). How have these skills contributed to your success? How have they added value to your team or organization?

PART II: EVALUATE

  1. Consider your work relationships with your colleagues, team members and, most importantly, your relationship with your boss. Has there been any conflict that you have not resolved? Are there relationships that you want to strengthen because they can help you achieve some of your career goals or they have a great network that you would love to get to know. Do they know of your talents and career aspirations?
  2. Evaluate how strong your network outside the company is. Have you been meeting with existing contacts regularly to stay connected? How many new contacts have you made in the last six months? Your network can be your powerhouse for finding your next role, but you have to keep it warm if you want to leverage it when you need it.
  3. Check in with your values. Are you following a path that you believe in? Are you maintaining clear boundaries? Have boundaries been crossed and you need to have a conversation with the person who might be unaware they are important to you?
  4. Are you clear about where you want to go? And if so, are you clear on what you need to advance in the direction you envision for yourself? Is your manager aware of what you need to help you in your career? If not, now is a good time to schedule a meeting with them to discuss your plans and any support that they may be able to provide.

Taking time now to assess where you are with your career goals gives you the chance to adjust before you get too far off track.

Work situations change, management changes, and you might have changed, too! Paying attention to what you have achieved and what you need to do to continue to develop will keep you marketable and prepared for pursuing new opportunities when they arise.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Asking Better Questions During Your Interview

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Asking Better Questions During Your Interview

April 25, 2022

In my last article, I talked about “behavioral questions,” and preparing for behavioral interviews.

I’d like to take this topic one step further, because YOU can ask behavioral questions during the interview as well!

During a formal interview, you will be given the chance to ask questions. This is an important opportunity because the answers you receive can help you determine if it’s the right job for you.

For example, let’s say your interview is with the person who would be managing you. Here are three standard questions that interviewees might ask:

  • Can you describe your managerial style?
  • How do you recognize your employee accomplishments?
  • What professional development opportunities are available?

Again, those are common questions, and they aren’t bad! But they also won’t get you a lot of information. How a person describes the way things are supposed to be is very different from how their employees experience it or the stories that emerge from the organization.

What if we turn these standard questions into behavioral questions?

Here are some ways that you might do that:

  • Can you give me an example of feedback you’ve given one of your employees before the review process?
  • What type of recognition or acknowledgement have you given your employees over the last couple of months?
  • Can you give me a couple of examples of how your employees have taken advantage of your professional development opportunities over the last year?”

If you’re thinking that asking these types of questions might be difficult to ask, I’m going to agree with you. It’s a different way of asking and so they take practice!

Asking behavioral questions like this can be very powerful for helping you determine if the company you are interviewing with is the right fit for you. So, take some time to practice, whether it’s with a friend or a career coach. That will enable you to ask your questions with confidence and conviction.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

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How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

April 11, 2022

Have you ever been in an interview and the interviewer asked a question that began with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when you…”?

That is a standard opening to what is called a “behavioral question” and the interviews that use this style of question are known as “behavioral interviews.”

Through these questions, the interviewer is asking about how you’ve behaved in certain circumstances in your past. They ask these questions to get an indication of your knowledge, skills, and even your beliefs, under the premise that your past behavior indicates your future behavior.

It is important that you give the correct responses to these types of questions. To respond correctly, you need to prepare ahead of time. Coming up with examples from your past can be difficult under the pressure of an interview, so going in with your stories already in mind will help you show up confidently.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW

The best way for you to prepare for this type of interview is to break apart the job description and pay close attention to what they are looking for in behaviors.

For example, they might be looking for someone who:

  • Manages stress well
  • Organizes multiple priorities
  • Uses effective communication skills
  • Manages difficult customers with calm and grace
  • Makes sound decisions in urgent situations

After you’ve identified the behaviors that they are looking for, spend some time identifying examples from your past when you were in a situation that called for this behavior.

From the list above, for example, identify a time when you managed a difficult customer successfully or needed to make important decisions while things were moving quickly. If you can’t think of a work example, consider drawing from your volunteer or professional association work.

HOW TO PRACTICE FOR A BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW

After you’ve identified the stories that you want to draw from, you need to practice telling them. It’s a good idea to mimic the interview environment so if it will be face-to-face or via video, set up your practice session in the same way. Invite a trusted friend to have the conversation with you so that you’re talking to a real person.

Answering this type of question isn’t easy if you aren’t used to it, so practice is important. When I do this type of work with my clients, I help them focus on the key points of their stories and make sure they connect their story back to the question.

It is very possible that you won’t get to tell the exact stories you’ve identified during your preparation, and that’s ok. The practice is as much about getting used to drawing from your past and telling those stories as it is identifying the specific scenarios you want to draw from.

You’re developing the skill of answering these types of questions, and that is the whole point. Without a doubt, you need to anticipate that you will be asked these types of questions. It will make an enormous difference if you are prepared. You’ll show up with calm and grace under the pressure of an interview and that will tell a story unto itself.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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5 Tips for a Successful Informational Interview

informational interview

5 Tips for a Successful Informational Interview

February 28, 2022

informational interviewAre you thinking about entering a career, industry, or company, but you have questions that you wish you could ask someone?

If so, you are prime for doing an Informational Interview.

Informational Interviews are conversations with key people that help you gain information and advice about the companies you are targeting, industries you’re interested in getting into, and the career goals that you’re considering. As an added advantage, these interviews can help you develop your professional network and your relationship building skills.

It’s imperative that you keep this one thing in mind: Informational Interviews are NOT about asking for a job!

However, through these conversations, you can learn what employers are looking for in new hires, the trends in specific industries, plus which hard and soft skills you should focus on. You can also build a professional relationship that does, in the end, lead to an actual job, so don’t discount the benefits to your job hunt altogether.

So how can you get the most out of an informational interview? Here are 5 tips:

1. Be prepared before you set up your meeting

Prior to reaching out for to set up the interview, there are a few things you should get in place:

  • A formatted resume – Though you are not using this conversation to ask for a job, your resume will help them understand who you are, what you’ve done, and where you’re hoping to go. This will help them get a sense of who you are prior to your interview.
  • A completed LinkedIn profile – Make sure everything is up to date because it’s highly likely that they’ll check you out sometime before your meeting.
  • A targeted list of 5-10 companies that you think might be a good fit for where you’d like to go next. Even if the list is just a guess at where you think you’d like to be, it serves as a starting point and can create context for your conversation as well as your job search.

2. Aim to make a great impression

Some of the things you need to do to make a great impression are obvious: Be early for your meeting and dress professionally (even if it’s a virtual meeting!). But there’s more that you can do to leave a great impression:

Be gracious by thanking them for meeting with you both at the beginning and at the end of the conversation. This step is crucial! They are taking time out of their day to help you, and so it’s important that they know that you are aware of this and that you aren’t taking it for granted.

Since YOU asked for the meeting, it’s your job to run it. After your initial greeting and saying thank you, get to your questions. Your being prepared will show them that you respect their time and it could increase your chances of being introduced to new contacts.

When you put in the time and effort to make a great impression – through your graciousness, preparation, and professionalism – you deepen your professional relationship with the person you are meeting with. The chances of them thinking of you if an opportunity comes up increases dramatically!

3. Do your research

Do some initial research so it’s clear you already know a bit about the topic you’ll be asking about.

Now to be clear – the Informational Interview is a form of research! What I’m saying here is… don’t go in with a blank slate. There are things you can learn online so start there. Then use the Informational Interview to deepen your understanding.

This means that instead of asking, “What does a person in this role do?”, you can say: “I understand that this role involves doing x, y, and z. Can you tell me a little bit more about what a person in this role does beyond that?”

When it’s clear that you already know a bit about what you’re discussing, it can raise your conversation to a new level. They aren’t talking to someone who has no clue… they’re talking to an informed and interested party who is trying to make a decision. This will shift their approach and increase the quality of the information they share.

4. Ask them these two final questions:

Use these two final questions to bring a close to your conversation:

  • Is there anyone else that you think I should talk to about this? If they do suggest someone, either ask them to introduce you or ask if you can mention the referral.
  • Is there anything I can do for you? Don’t discount this question! You never know how you might be of service in return! At the very least, just you asking this question will tell them something more about your character and it will help you to leave a great impression.

5. Follow Up

The follow up is where most people go wrong, and yet it’s the most powerful work that you can do. Do not drop this ball!

When you follow-up, you are creating an ongoing connection with the person you spoke with, and you are deepening a professional relationship that can serve you (and them!) for many years to come.

Here’s your quick follow-up to-do list:

  1. Send a thank you card through the mail or, if you don’t have their address, an email will do
  2. Send a personalized LinkedIn Connection request mentioning you look forward to staying in touch.
  3. Mark your calendar to reach out in a couple of months. Let them know how meeting with them helped you further your search, update them on where you are in that search, and ask if there’s anything that you can do to help them.

Throughout this entire informational interview process, your focus is on building the relationship with the person you are meeting.

Throughout the process, I invite you to keep Dale Carnegie’s words in mind:

“You can develop more relationships in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can getting people interested in you.”

If you’re looking for a more in-depth conversation about this topic, I talked about it recently in one of my LinkedIn videos. You can check it out below:

Do you want to make sure you're happy in your next job?

Use this worksheet to clarify what you need in the next company you work for.

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Want a Job You Love? Reverse Your Job Search Process

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Want a Job You Love? Reverse Your Job Search Process

February 14, 2022

image: arrow going from B to AHow do you go about looking for a job?

Most people use this process:

Step 1: See what is available
Step 2: Apply, go through the traditional process… eventually get an offer
Step 3: Make that job fit their world and figure out how to be happy in it.

As much as this process will address the challenge of getting you into a job, it creates new challenges along the way, including dissatisfaction at work and taking your career in a direction that you weren’t intending or, perhaps, even wanting. And these are all reasons why people go in search of yet another new job all too quickly.

If you want to find a job that you actually want and will be happy in, I recommend that you reverse the order of the typical job search process:

Step 1: Get clear on what you want: What will make you happy?
Step 2: Use those criteria to find jobs that you apply for… eventually get an offer
Step 3: Notice whether it makes you as happy as you thought it might, and use that information to continue to progress your career in the direction you choose for yourself

Going back to the beginning… The thing that undermines the whole job-search process is desperation. We get to a place where we need the job urgently. And I understand that! Sometimes, life is that way: We need a job, and we need it now.

So, I recommend that you do this work as soon as possible so that if things do get urgent, you already know these answers.

If you’d like some help figuring out what would make you happy in your career, download my free guide, Set Your Intentions for Your Career. It will walk you through a series of questions that will help you understand where you actually want to go in your career.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth conversation about this topic, I talked about it recently in one of my LinkedIn videos. You can check it out below:

Do you want to make sure you're happy in your next job?

Use this worksheet to clarify what you need in the next company you work for.

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