Want Better Career Success? Develop Your Confidence

iStock_000016834872XSmallIf you are looking to improve your career prospects, one of the best things you can do is develop confidence. According to Harris Allied, an executive search firm, confidence is the third most important trait that employers look for, after professionalism and high energy. Additionally, a recent study found that those with confidence had more success than their less-confidence counterparts — even if they were less competent.

The ability to project confidence is important if you plan to get a job (over other applicants) and if you want a promotion or raise. It’s interesting to note that competence and education aren’t rated higher by employers, and that hard work might not get you the job. Instead, showing that you are confident can yield better results than trying to show that you deserve the job or promotion because of your accomplishments and expertise.

The Advantages of Confidence

Confidence immediately pegs you as someone who can make decisions. This can be seen as a desirable quality in an employer. Do you have the ability to make decisions and stick by them? Confidence implies that you do.

The markers of confidence also tend to make you more personable. Confidence is often marked by appropriate eye contact, good posture, clear speech, and a firm handshake. All of these things make a good impression on others. You might be the most competent person in the world, but if you slouch and mumble, it’s not always easy for others to interact with you.

Those with confidence are also perceived as likable leaders. As such, it is no surprise that they would be tipped for promotions and raises. Your confidence marks you at as someone that others can respect and admire. It also makes you a little more visible. If you are confident in your actions, you are more likely to be seen doing the job. Those who lack confidence, and who may not draw attention to themselves, might not be noticed for their work — even if it superior.

While there are advantages to portraying yourself confidently, it’s important to avoid the pitfall of arrogance. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and you don’t want to cross it. Arrogance cross the line into unpleasantness. Arrogance can lead to resentment, which can impede your career prospects, rather than help them.

How to Develop Confidence

It can be difficult to develop confidence, especially at times when you feel afflicted by self doubt. In some cases, you might also suffer from impostor syndrome, which is the belief that you aren’t really as great as others think you are — and that any minute you could be “found out.” If you want better career success, though, you do need to develop your self-confidence. Here are a few things that can help you feel a little more confident:

  1. Pay attention to your appearance: No, you don’t have to be vain. However, when you practice good hygiene, and make the effort to look appropriately professional, you are more likely to feel confident. Choose clothing that fits and that you feel comfortable in. Practice good posture. Just standing and sitting with good posture can help you feel good about yourself and invite positivity.
  2. Acknowledge your strengths: Many of us dwell too long on our weaknesses. Yes, you need to be aware of your weaknesses, and work on improving yourself. But don’t sell yourself short. Remember to acknowledge your strengths and own your competence.
  3. Protect your good health: How you feel physically can affect your confidence level. A healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can all contribute to a feeling of well-being that translates into confidence.
  4. Spend time with positive people: Don’t spend time with people who tear you down. Instead, spend time with friends and family who help build you up and who recognize your strengths. Positive, confident attitudes in those around you can help you develop confidence yourself.
  5. Enjoy your hobbies: Spend time enjoying yourself. A good hobby can help your confidence. I feel better when I practice the piano or the guitar. Not only is it an expression of myself, but I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I improve. Your hobbies and self-improvement efforts can add another layer to your level of confidence.


Don’t let your situation get the better of you. If you want career success, take the time to develop the confidence necessary to achieve it.


Want Better Career Success? Develop Your Confidence — 4 Comments

  1. Great tips. I believe that looking after one self and building on one’s strengths are the two that are absolutely key. Interestingly, we humans focus most of the time on our weaknesses and try to work on them; we’ll get so much further on working on our strengths. To the list I would add ‘push yourself outside your comfort zone’ even if this is done by doing silly things. It is a great confidence builder.

  2. I remember when I first started my career, I flew with the president of the company to Wright-Patterson AFB where we met with a chief scientist who specialized in engineering materials used for passive damping. He described what he wanted to be able to do with material data on the computer. I told him I could do it with no problem. This was back in 1985 before personal computers had much power. I would therefore have to program using VAX mini-computers, which the Air Force had a lot of, and our company had one of. We wrote a contract and Statement of Work on what I would accomplish for this chief scientist. It was a multi-year contract that also included work beyond what I promised, but a lot hinged on what I could deliver. As we left the Air Force base, my boss asked if I knew how to accomplish what we promised. I told him I knew how to graphically program on the VAX but I had no idea as to how to accomplish what the Air Force scientist wanted. I learned a lot over the next year and delivered exactly what the chief scientist wanted. Was I overconfident? You tell me.

  3. Great advice. I think it is definitely true that confidence is very important to have a success career…and a successful life in general. This is something that I need to work on developing more. I especially like tips #2 and #4…acknowledging your strengths and surrounding yourself with positive people and influences.

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