Every since I wrote the book Careerismo, the subject of confidence has continued to boomerang back into many of my career conversations. Confidence is a foundation topic that underpins so many other parts of starting and advancing your career. Therefore, it only seems appropriate to start 2019 with more depth on building confidence in women’s careers.
I used part of the holiday break to read more about career topics for women. Confidence was one of the topics I unpacked. By writing on one subtopic, the career site Ladders helped me dig into the subject of confidence further. They posted an article called, “How to develop a thicker skin at work without being obnoxious.” The post included some brief, bullet-point New Year’s recommendations such as “Making Your Voice Heard” (see key recommendations in quotes below). I have pulled the best suggestions out of the post and will add what I would consider to be important parts which are most specific, and relevant, to women’s careers.
“Making Your Voice Heard.” Here Ladders quotes Miriam Daniel, who is a woman VP at Amazon. She gives good general advice on building relationships. Her most helpful comment for you is learning, “…to speak up and say, ‘time out, I have something to say’.” In Careerismo, I covered that you build professional relationships by extending who, and what, you know. This allows you to be comfortable so you can speak up and be heard. To this, I would add that you should develop the habit of speaking up in meetings and saying something that contributes to takeaways from those meetings. One woman we interviewed for our podcast, Unite the Divide, built her confidence by initially volunteering to write the most important takeaways from any meeting she attended down on a whiteboard for everyone to see. This was a smart move for several reasons. Doing so boosted her confidence and helped her voice be heard.
“Try Not To Take It Personally.” According to Miriam Daniel, “Every person has a unique perspective no matter your level or experience – and those perspectives are valuable,” said Daniel. She believes the best way to show off your thinking is to be prepared. “When you’re invited to a meeting, come to the table with data to back up the points you want to make. This will allow you to speak from a place of strength which builds self-confidence and earns credibility.” In a key segment of Careerismo, I talk specifically about operating from a position of strength, which is derived from knowing your unique combination of skills. I would add to this that one skill I have seen many professional women bring to the table is the uncanny ability to always be prepared.
“Use Your Brain.” I would clarify this recommendation made by Ladders and say it’s best for you to “use your analytical, not emotional, brain.” Compared to men, women achieve and attain higher levels of education. Use all forms of intellect, education and analytics to your advantage.
“Embrace Rejection.” To me, the word “Embrace” is often overused and misunderstood. It reminds me of the term “Empower” as a descriptor used for, and for, women. I would advise against using both words. Alternatively, I would encourage you to find useful ways to “deal with rejection.” You can do so, and also do yourself a favor, by learning to face rejection early in your career. One young woman I know did this by taking a sales job as an internship in college. It wasn’t necessarily her first or favorite choice, but she understood the value of constructively dealing with rejection as a way to build a tougher shell and the future application confidence had in her career. I absolutely support these types of decisions. Rejection is a type of fear that works against women gaining the most confidence in their careers.
Here’s a final recommendation. Please read my book Careerismo. It is a short, high-value, read that covers a breadth of important topics (which includes confidence) on the best way to start your career. You can also find more in-depth content via posts to my blog and on podcasts with Lynn Ware Peek from NPR. Here’s to a prosperous 2019!