How to Stay Confident in a Competitive Workplace

By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC

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Times are changing especially in the work place. Back in the day, an employee would find a job and stay there for life. Now, instead of a career ladder, it’s more of a climbing wall. Sometimes we go forward, sometimes we have to step back to regain our footing and then climb up. You are no longer confined to a dedicated workspace with specific duties. The most successful employees are the ones who, not only contribute to the organization but also get along well with others.


With less jobs available these days, you will have to work harder to keep yours which is sometimes easier said than done and intimidating. Don’t despair. Keep reading for some ideas that you can incorporate right away. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of  “the little things.” This article, 10 Things That Require Zero Talentgoes into detail about how you can succeed and it doesn't require talent. Skill, yes. Practice, yes. A system that works for you but all of those things can be learned.  Incorporate this list as well as the advice below to increase your confidence as well as your skills and secure your place at work.


Try these techniques to stay confident on the job:


1.      Keep your skills current. Stay current on all certifications and highlight your on-going achievements. Update your resume on a regular basis so that you can track the additional responsibilities that have been added to your job description with time. Be sure to highlight the results and quantify your results when possible. When you keep your skills up to date that can help you feel more confident because you are privy to cutting edge techniques.   


·         Consider sharing your knowledge with the office. Conduct an internal training for your office to establish yourself as an expert. This will keep you a step ahead of the competition and increase your internal, professional network.

·         In most fields, there are usually mini-courses that can help you earn a more recognized certification.

·         Consult your company's newsletter. This helps you see the plans that are underway. With that knowledge, you can start to learn specialized skills that may be needed in the future.

2.      Volunteer for the unpopular jobs. Everybody is eager to go after the popular jobs that get a lot of attention. Sure, you can join the gang and do the same. But it's also a good idea to go after the unpopular ones.

·         You never know who's watching! While everybody's eyes are on the prized jobs, there may be one scout watching over the unpopular jobs. Let that scout see you handling things effectively.

·         You may end up gaining additional skill sets just by going after something off the radar.

3.      A little gloating doesn’t hurt. If you've done something worth recognition, it doesn’t hurt to point it out. Certainly, you don’t want to be tooting your own horn all day, but a little goes a long way. A great book to learn how to do this is, “Brag! How to Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” by Peggy Klaus.

·         In a team effort, certainly, everyone’s contribution should be highlighted. If you aren't recognized on a project, find a creative way to get the word out about your contribution.

·         Studies have shown that women are especially uncomfortable with self-promotion. Some additional resources that you may find helpful if you are a woman are below:

o  “Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Path to Power” by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath and Mary Davis Holt

o   “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg

o   Join a local Lean-In group and/or take advantage of all the great resources they have online.  


4.      Put your strengths on display. You might be hired as an account executive, but you could have great accounting skills. No one will know unless you speak up.

·         Make sure you know and understand the communication hierarchy in your organization. It’s usually a good idea to run your idea by your direct supervisor and, with their permission, you may be able to an email to your department head. It is usually a good idea to cc your boss so the department head knows that you have followed the right channels. Alert them to your availability to assist on a project unrelated to your field. That's a subtle way to say, "Hey, I'm good at this, too!"

·         Volunteer for projects, especially ones that are interesting to you, when possible. Be sure that you have the skill set needed to do an effective job and that you can balance it with your primary responsibilities. The company always takes note of skills on display, especially at a crucial time for the business.


·         If you know you have an innate skill that sets you apart from everybody else, show it!

5.      Give 100% effort. Even when you're not feeling confident, give it everything you have. The effort you put into your job displays commitment and interest in the company.


So as you see, staying confident in a competitive workplace isn’t that difficult. Rely on your natural abilities. They can definitely speak for themselves if you give them a chance!


By following these guidelines, you have a plan to stand out and make a positive, lasting impression at your workplace.