Promoting an image of confidence and competence even when you don’t feel that way.
During the Great Recession, hiring employers were notorious for holding out for that “perfect candidate” whose skills and experience exactly matched the position they were trying to fill.
Now, however, with the unemployment rate at a 16-year low, the labor market is much tighter. Some people may even be finding themselves taking on a job that they are, frankly, underqualified for. After all, some opportunities are just too good to pass up!
Others may be thrown in over their heads by a promotion at their current jobs. Too many employers fail to supply people with the training they need to succeed. A high-performing individual contributor who is “rewarded” with a management position may find that suddenly being called upon to supervise a staff and administer a budget can be a rude awakening.
Both situations call for you to “fake it until you make it,” and you might be tempted to keep a low profile until you get your bearings.
In general, however, it’s far better to be open and upfront about what you require to do your best work. If you need more training or a mentor, for example, let your boss know, making sure to frame the request in a way that clearly relates to your employer’s bottom line.
At the same time, do definitely seize the initiative. After all, you were probably chosen for this position for good reason. A smart way to get a handle on any new job is to identify a specific goal, draw up a plan for achieving that goal, and then set out to implement that plan. The resulting tangible results will be empowering for you, and will show the powers-that-be what you’re made of.
In fact, conveying an overall impression of self-confidence is key to your “fake it till you make it” project. Oddly, it’s not enough to be good. You have to seem good. A lot of this comes down to nonverbal communication, so do try to smile, slow your breathing, lower your shoulders and make eye contact.
One final tip: An excellent way to project an image of confidence and competence is to admit mistakes. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. After all, only the strong and confident are able to own up to their shortcomings.