5 Confidence-Boosting Tips To Fuel Your Return To Work

5 Confidence-Boosting Tips To Fuel Your Return To Work

 

I saw this sign on a shop in St. Augustine, FL during spring break.  Naturally, I went in.  Who wouldn’t?  Such confidence!

 

What does your sign say?  Are you open and awesome?  I’m willing to bet that you are, but I’m interested by the confidence gap I keep reading about and how some say that it’s preventing women from taking risks, reaching for that stretch job and speaking up enough.  So how to build up that confidence level when you may just be returning to work after a career break?  Read on for 5 confidence-boosting ideas that you can start practicing today.

 

5 Confidence-Boosting Ideas For You!

 

Confidence Booster #1: Transfer Your Confidence

We all have areas of our life where we feel more confident than others.  For some, work is their confidence comfort zone.  For others running the show at home is where they feel in-charge.  So what if we applied the confidence we exhibit at our confidence comfort zone to our less-confident zone?  For women returning to work after a career break and struggling to regain their professional self-assurance, I’d like you to apply your confidence in your non-professional pursuits to your job search and your professional life.  Here’s how: notice your posture, body language, the volume and tone of your voice when you’re taking care of business in a place where you feel like the boss.  The next time you’re heading into a professional event, a networking meeting, or an interview, recall that in-charge feeling.  You are the boss.

 

Why does confidence matter?    In “For Women to Rise, We Must Close the Confidence Gap”, author Margie Warrell argues that in the context of job-searching, a less-confident woman won’t apply for certain jobs if she doesn’t feel fully qualified.  You’ve probably all heard the statistic from a Hewlett-Packard internal report that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications.  Over the many years of a career, the cumulative effect of consistently not reaching for the next job or applying for one you have the potential to do can add up to tremendous missed opportunities, lower salary and fewer promotions.

 

Confidence Booster #2: Just Act!

The Atlantic Magazine cites perfectionism as “another confidence killer” in “The Confidence Gap” by Katty Kay and Claire  Shipman. “Study after study confirms that it is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. We watch our male colleagues take risks, while we hold back until we’re sure we are perfectly ready and perfectly qualified. In order to become more confident, women need to stop thinking so much and just act.”

 

Margie Warrell had some of my favorite advice on the topic of exhibiting more confidence: “After working with thousands of women across diverse professions and cultural background, I’ve learned that nothing builds confidence in any arena more than stepping right into the middle of it…palms sweating, stomach knotted, beside the guys…despite the chorus of doubts urging you to play it safe in the stands…The only way to build confidence and courage is by acting with it.”   This is a modern-day echo of the famous Eleanor Roosevelt advice to “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

 

Confidence Booster #3: Pay Attention to the Words You Use

Your word choice can be a powerful signal of your confidence level.   Be cognizant that you’re presenting ideas in a way that is not apologetic or timid.  Don’t fear disagreement – a healthy exchange of differing opinions and ideas can be an amazing way to reach a good outcome.  But if you’re afraid to speak up and present your opinion or ideas, this exchange won’t ever happen.

 

Confidence Booster #4: Visualize Success

A technique often taught to sales professionals that you can use to build your confidence is to visualize a successful outcome.  This takes goal-setting an important step farther, as you actually spend a few minutes imaging what success looks like for you in the situation you are faced with.  If you’re entering a job interview, visualizing success means imagining yourself getting the call from the hiring manager to welcome you to the team and offer you that job.  It’s a pretty powerful technique and one I urge you try the next time you’re faced with a situation that challenges your sense of confidence.

 

Confidence Booster #5: Remember Your Victories

Ever heard of an “Attagirl File?” It’s a file, either physical or electronic, where you keep confidence-boosting accolades, thank you notes, awards, and anything that you’ve received that points out a job well-done or makes you feel positive about an action you took.  I call mine “Wins.”  If you don’t have one, start one today and refer to it whenever you need a reminder of how awesome you are.  It’s also handy when you go to update your resume or have a performance review.

 

A few months ago I was invited to lead the discussion on Women Returning to Work at an MBA Women’s Leadership Conference.  My first thought was “Who, me?”  But then I realized that I live this stuff, read about it constantly, write about it weekly, obsess about it and talk about it with everyone I meet. I’m the expert! Yeah, me.

 

So when you see a job that you want, roll up your sleeves and apply, find a connection at the company to put in a good word for you and visualize yourself getting the job after wowing them in the interview.  Be open and awesome!  Yeah, you.

 

Visit us at www.BacktoBusinessConference.com to register for our confidence-boosting event this October in Research Triangle Park, NC.

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LinkedIn Tips: Get Your Profile Up and Running

You Simply Must Be “LinkedIn” – Tips to Start Off Right

Whether you are re-launching your career, making a career change or bringing in more business for your own venture, you simply must be “LinkedIn” these days. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn experience.

Attitude

Approach LinkedIn as a professional reconnecting with colleagues in the working world and finding ways to make a meaningful contribution. This tilt in attitude will help you enter with confidence instead of as someone who wants a job. Just as you are eager to expand your network, so are others.  People will welcome your invitations to connect.

Sign up for a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one already

First things first. A free account is all you need.  You can decide after you’re using it regularly if you need the deluxe model and are willing to pay for it.

Turn off your Notification

In the right-hand column, LinkedIn asks if you want to “Notify your network?” For now, choose, “No, do not publish an update to my network about my profile changes.” This is just while you’re getting set up. We want to prevent your network from being notified of every change you make to your profile as you build out your page.  Once your profile is to your liking, go back and turn this notification on.  You’ll want to notify your network when you are adding a skill, a recommendation or a new position (!), but not right now while you are completing your profile and making edits. Do not make connections until your profile is finished. Start by connecting with people you know.

Create/Update your Profile

Now for the heavy lifting. Recruiters and hiring managers view your LinkedIn profile as the new version of the resume, and it could be the first thing they see – even before there is a job posting to respond to. So do this right – and do this before making any connections – but know it’s a “creation” so you will be editing it regularly.

Photo

Even a clown uses a professional photo! You are selling the image that will get you that job, whether it is for a data manager or a clown. A professional photo is important because you’ll be reconnecting with people from the past and with people who have just interviewed you and might need to be reminded of who you are. In fact, professional photos are so important that we make it a priority at The Back to Business Women’s Conference each October to have a professional photographer on-hand to take photos for all registrants.  If you need to get yours done, I urge you to spend the money to have it done professionally.  This is an investment that is well worth it.

Headline

The first thing people see after your name and photo is your headline. It is not just a job title — pack it with keywords to attract others to read your profile.  It does not need to be your current position (or lack thereof) since that will appear again under Experience. It should be strong and personal but not too salesy – you want to be found and to be chosen. Some examples include:

  • Experienced Project Manager interested in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Competitive Intelligence Professional who applies data analytics to enhance decision making
  • Certified Professional Facilitator | Helping Teams to get from Chaos to Clarity

URL

Customize your profile URL to include your name. Find this a few lines down from the title and use the pencil icon to change it to read appropriately.  Then add your personalized LinkedIn url to your resume and email closing when sending out professional correspondence.

Keywords

Take a moment right now to look up keywords that are applicable to your field of interest if you haven’t already done this for your resume. Use LinkedIn profiles for people in your line of work to find several keywords they use and then be sure to use them in your summary and job descriptions. When you use keywords in many areas of your LinkedIn profile, recruiters have a better chance of finding you.

Summary

This is an essential place to tell readers who you are and what makes you great. Be creative with this – you want to stand out and show enthusiasm – but use those keywords here and keep it professional.

Experience

Use your updated resume to populate your Experience section with your work history, education, and certifications. Pull out your biggest accomplishments at each job you’ve held to add to your LinkedIn “Experience” section. Don’t list all of your responsibilities: You just want to highlight your  accomplishments here.  Be sure to include new volunteer positions, skills training and organization memberships. The Back to Business Women’s Conference is a professional development opportunity, and as such can be included under the Interests or Organizations section of your LinkedIn profile. Also, be sure to join our LinkedIn group called “Back to Business Women’s Conference” and contribute to or start a discussion here.

Connections

So now you’re ready to start using LinkedIn and making connections. Turn your notification back on. Start with low-hanging fruit – connect with people that LinkedIn recommends for you.  You are looking for quality connections:  If there is someone you’d like to meet, you can find a connection through the network you are building and ask for an introduction. Set yourself a goal to make a specific number of new connections each day and track your progress. These could be former co-workers, friends and professional acquaintances. When you reach out be sure to note what they are doing and offer a kind word or a quality recommendation for a fantastic former co-worker. Remember that right now as you are connecting, you should be seeing how you can help them.

Tip: If you are unsure as to whether you know someone who requests to connect with you, you can reply to their request to ask how you know them. Do not click on “I don’t know (the person)” unless they are sending SPAM. If a member receives five “I don’t know them” reports, LinkedIn will require them to input email addresses to request connections. This makes it very difficult to connect with other members.  Keep this in mind as you send out your own connection requests: If you are requesting a connection with someone you don’t know personally, be sure you include a personal note in the connection request that establishes why you want to connect.  It’s a good rule of thumb to include a personal note to everyone you want to connect with. The generic LinkedIn request of “I’d like to add you to my professional network” is so impersonal!

Recommendations

Recommendations are testimonials to your service, expertise and skills. Ask others for recommendations and be willing to write a recommendation for them as well. Former co-workers, managers and clients are the best people to ask. If you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a while, think about asking people you’ve volunteered with to write you a recommendation.

Groups and Online Learning

Join a group (such as the Back to Business Women’s Conference group) under the Interests tab and get involved in a discussion as long as you can reputably add to that discussion. This will help to make you known to others in your field so be sure you are contributing in a constructive manner! Belonging to several groups but not participating will not help you. Similarly, check out some of the online learning opportunities – Lynda.com offers online training at a cost for a variety of topics and adds completion links automatically to your LinkedIn Profile. Join your alumni organizations’ group, local networking groups and a professional group that interests you.

Use and Update

Use LinkedIn on a regular basis – the more you use it, the more likely you will come up on others’ radar. Keep your profile up-to-date and be sure to add any new skills, training programs or professional affiliations. Offer endorsements of skills for those who are deserving and recommendations where appropriate. Your connections will likely do the same for you.

Research

Use LinkedIn to research potential companies and expand your list of target companies. Get to know everything about them and make new connections who work there. Know where your friends are working and check out who they’re connected to.

LinkedIn is another social media outlet that will demand some time upfront.  Knowing how people make a living is a good use of your time for your own future, as is having them find out about you.

Learn more tips and what recruiters care about with social media usage at the Back to Business Women’s Conference in Research Triangle Park, NC.