I’ve been closely involved in hiring processes for a long time. I’m not talking about shuffling resumes but actually interacting closely with both applicants and hiring managers during each step of the hiring process. Methods and trends change over the years but most aspects of human interaction do not. Sadly, companies now more than ever insulate themselves, removing as much human interaction as they can and human resources departments go to great lengths to avoid you. However, at some point in the hiring process you will be face-to-face with a hiring manager and, when it occurs, that resume you invested so much time into has little further use. So when it’s your turn and you’re center stage – will you be ready? What happens when it is time to represent yourself in person; are you confident you can demonstrate why they should hire you instead of someone else?
During my career as a headhunter, I have never witnessed a time, as now, when this most basic but critical personality trait has been so lacking among job seekers. In my opinion, less actual human interaction in our society is the primary reason. I have watched during these last couple of decades a devolution of sorts, as people become less connected in our increasingly connected world. Ironic, isn’t it? Too many have chosen the easier route of hiding behind their online avatars or digital selves. As a result, we are losing the soft skills we’ve spent a lifetime refining. So, is it any wonder people lack self-confidence at a time when they most need it?
For example: take two people with similar backgrounds and experience levels, but one is confident about their abilities and the other, not so much -- who’s more likely to get that job? Discount the effect self-confidence has in such situations at your own risk. I advise that people need to be able to articulate their accomplishments and, guess what, this requires confidence. Perhaps some people are just plain shy, or they confuse displaying confidence with arrogance (they aren’t the same).
Here’s a test: list your accomplishments, you know, the stuff you’ve done that benefitted your employer. It doesn’t matter if you have two or twenty, after you list them ask yourself if you feel good about them or do you feel a little awkward and have a sense of self-doubt. Did you find yourself questioning your own capabilities? Now imagine yourself sitting opposite a hiring manager during an interview when they ask, and they will, “So tell me about yourself?” which really means, “Why should I hire you?” If you don’t feel confident about yourself, your capabilities and your past or present performance, then why should a hiring manager believe you’re the person for the job? I have never witnessed a hiring manager offer a job to someone they are not convinced is up for the job. No matter how qualified or highly educated you may be on paper, it won’t matter if you cannot project some level of self-confidence.
Yeah, I get it, many people have been beaten down the last few years in a depressed jobs market. Making it even more difficult are the ridiculous trends and processes one must submit to when applying for a job. I have empathy, which is one of the reasons I write this blog – it enables me to advise far more people than I might ever be in a position to represent one-on-one, which is the manner by which I work. But the responsibility to improve your chances in the jobs market is yours alone. I have tons of advice, a lot of it archived here or in my handbook. Everyone’s situation differs to a varying degree, depending on individual circumstance and your resolve. I don’t care what method, strategy or gimmick you may want to use in order to get the job you want or need, but your belief in yourself is the absolute starting point.