When it comes to highlighting your skills, confidence is key.
Many people are reluctant to talk themselves up in an interview or highlight their strengths in a performance review. You may be afraid of being seen as arrogant or even found out as imposter.
Confidence is your greatest asset when applying for a job, giving a presentation, changing industries, or going for that promotion. It helps you showcase your skills and abilities, keep a good attitude towards your work, and ultimately feel more fulfilled in your career.
How to identify your skills
Step 1: Recognise and value your human skills
It’s common to overlook the importance of what’s considered every day or human skills. However, Ferguson says we should value these human skills as assets, as they can make or break situations where you need to highlight your strengths.
“A lot of people that I talk to know their qualifications and experience level, but what they don’t talk about are their human skills,” she says. “I’m talking about things like the way you communicate, empathy, compassion, non-verbal communication, cultural awareness, being inspiring, championing other people, and those sorts of things.
I encourage people to write a list of all the human skills that make them who they are. Those are the things that get you over the line when it comes to that job interview, promotion, or building your confidence.”
Step 2: Gather feedback from people you trust
Acknowledging your own skills can be difficult, so outside perspective is helpful. Ferguson suggests using what she calls, ‘The Perception Exercise’.
“Talk to four people from four different areas of your life and ask them two questions.
The first one - can you give me some feedback on four things that you think I’m really good at? And secondly, can you give me four things that you think I need to improve or that I’m not innately fantastic at?
Don’t go to people who have an agenda. You want to go to people you trust, who are going to give you constructive feedback.”
Whilst the feedback may vary, particularly depending on your relationship with each person, Ferguson explains that it should give a good basis for areas you’re generally good at, and areas you can improve in.
“When you gather that feedback together, you’ll often see that there are streams of information where people agree,” she says.
How to build your confidence in your work life
Once you’re armed with your list of skills, it’s up to you to then sell them with confidence and conviction. Here are some ways to flex your confidence muscles.
Step 1: Monitor your self-talk
Negative thoughts or self-talk can rattle even the most accomplished person in their daily work. Imposter syndrome makes us doubt our own abilities and often results in self-sabotage. Alison Shamir, Imposter Syndrome and Confidence Coach, says the first step to combatting imposter syndrome is to identify its origin.
“Somewhere in your past there was a seed of unworthiness planted in you by someone around you or by a situation or scenario that you were in involved in,” she says. “Think about the first time you felt like you weren’t good enough, who was there, what happened, what did they say, and how did it make you feel.”
Next, Shamir suggests identifying your triggers. That might be getting an opportunity for a great new role, heading into an interview, or someone speaking over you in a meeting.
Shamir explains that “when we identify the trigger, it helps you work out boundaries or ways that you can avoid that trigger or perhaps manage it better.”
Step 2: Prepare yourself with self-knowledge
Skills become real when you provide evidence to back them up. That’s why establishing examples, either by gathering feedback from others or through your own work, is so important. If we rely solely on how we feel about a situation, Ferguson explains, our perception will be warped. Instead, we need to focus on the facts.
“When you understand the realities of the situation, rather than just how you feel about it, then it helps give you a different perspective.”
Step 3: Find your champion
You don’t have to build your confidence on your own. Find someone from within your organisation or work circle that you trust to not only mentor you but cheer you on. Use catchups with them to add to your evidence of skills and give your self-talk and self-knowledge a boost.
Find your confidence and excel at work
Building and maintaining confidence isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s often a continual practice, something to work at and keep growing in over the span of your career.
However, that effort goes a long way. It can help you successfully navigate job interviews, propel your career forward, feel more fulfilled in your work life, and empower you to highlight your many skills and talents.