3 min read

Building Confidence and Standing Out in your Early Career

Building Confidence and Standing Out in your Early Career

Our research has found that the main concern amongst those in their early careers is a lack of confidence and want to stand out in their workplace.  Covering these topics in Early Career development programmes is vital in supporting those beginning their career journey. 

If you are about to start or are in your first job, you’ll find these reflections and tips powerful in helping you to #BeYourselfAtWork. If you look after Early Careers programmes, use it to reflect on how up-to-date your approaches are.

What is causing us to question ourselves?

What makes those in their early careers worried about the world of work and what are the key concerns that channel into a lack of confidence?

One factor is that they feel unprepared. The pandemic has halted work experience for many which has led 45% of university students to feel unprepared for work. A massive 96% say they faced barriers when looking for jobs. The top three barriers identified were a lack of work experience, a lack of opportunities to apply for roles and not having the necessary skills (Prospects).

A lack of self-confidence is very common. While many feel isolated it is important to remember that a large proportion of those in their early careers experience the same feelings, again Prospects share that 48% are worried that their shortage of confidence will hold them back while trying to secure a job. This worry has been nicknamed ‘The Crisis of Confidence’ due to how widespread the concern now is.

Just 22% feel confident in their future career and only 19% feel like they ‘have the confidence to go after the job they want.’

Even once they have secured the job, many feel unable to work effectively with 20% feel they are incapable of doing the work and 59% feeling that their work isn’t valued by their workplace. Interestingly, 41% of women and just 28% of men say that their confidence is holding them back. The difference can not only be seen in men and women but also in social class, as 52% agree that they have ‘lost confidence in themselves’ because of the pandemic which rises to 60% among those from lower-income backgrounds. 

So, it’s not just you! People of every age and career stage can doubt themselves.  The key is to work on your confidence as you would work on your practical skills or academic education or job role.  Most of us don’t place enough if any focus on this.  And with most wanting to stand out in their careers, confidence and being authentic have never been more important.

How can workplaces help? The main step is to recognise what people in their early careers want, help them to gain confidence on the inside and use who they are, their values, their positive character to stand out. 88% are willing to participate in Learning and Development programmes if offered. The desire is there but is your content up to date?

If you are in your early career or supporting those who are, here are some

10 tips on building confidence and standing out in your early career.

  1. Place as much emphasis on building confidence and resilience as you do on skills at work.
  2. Choose to be confident.  Worrying about what people think to the point of self-consciousness will just stop your natural ability to stand out.  Decide it.
  3. Teach yourself to not rely on feedback and acknowledgement to fuel your confidence, build a strong relationship with yourself, notice what goes well because of you without the need for gold stars.
  4. Ask for and act on feedback, but not because you want to be appreciated, because you want to fail, learn and grow fast.
  5. Acknowledge that having confidence is a daily lifelong journey and stop comparing yourself to others, there is only one you.
  6. Never self-deprecate, you’d not buy a brand that tells you that it’s rubbish so don’t do it to yourself.
  7. Learn to like being you, this comes from being yourself at work, getting to know yourself.
  8. Aim to stand out as your best self at work. This market is competitive, there are typically 80 to 650 candidates for each job vacancy. Use your authenticity actively and share your positive self-awareness.
  9. Young people value authenticity and want to be themselves at work, yet 1 in 3 in their early careers end up being mismatched to their job.  Choose a career, an organisation where you can be you, remembering that this is a choice and doesn’t happen to you.
  10. Be the one person who listens, who makes others feel valued, who is friendly, warm and authentic.  Be the same person at your best at work and at home.

develop early career schemes

About BY@W

BY@W is creating a new global standard for work where everyone is able and confident to be themselves.   We are changing the narrative of work to one where it is an opportunity to make your unique difference and love it.  Find out more about iAM for Early Careers success.

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