Searching for a job is tough, and it can really take a toll on your self-esteem. A lack of confidence can hold you back from getting the job you really want, creating a vicious cycle in which a difficult job search lowers your confidence, which makes your search more difficult, which lowers your confidence further, and so on.
However, approached properly, a job search can also be an opportunity to build your confidence. Job searching, primarily through networking, gives you the opportunity to meet new people and build relationships with industry contacts. This is a prime confidence-building exercise, and it leads to better job search results through referrals and recommendations.
Let’s take a look at four ways to strengthen your self-esteem while getting results in your job search:
1. Build a Network You’re Proud Of
Building a comprehensive network on LinkedIn will connect you with recruiters and industry authorities who could lead you right to your dream job.
As you build your network, you’ll learn all kinds of new information by reading the articles, blog posts, and updates shared by industry insiders. You’ll also have interesting conversations with people who can help you in your career.
While networking on LinkedIn, your focus should be on finding people whom you can help. For example, if you’re a software developer, try to connect with people whose ideas you can bring to life through software. Understand you are not a job seeker, but a service provider. The people who will hire you have challenges, and you are the one who can solve their challenges.
When you take your job search this seriously, you will begin to see networking for what it is: a way to establish yourself in your field and make connections with people who can hire you or help get you hired.
2. Cold Call Recruiters
Now that you have a network full of hiring managers and recruiters, it’s time to reach out. Start making cold calls to ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a look at your resume. Not only can these interactions give you valuable feedback to improve your resume, but every cold call will give you more confidence in yourself as a professional.
Over the last decade, we’ve gotten too comfortable sending messages and emails, hiding behind the impersonal facade of text. This has contributed to many job seekers’ lack of confidence, because they apply to hundreds of jobs and no one gets back to them.
To avoid this so-called black hole, you must grab the bull by its horns. Show the recruiter who you are and why they should pick you over someone else. Even if there’s no position open right now, your cold calls will put you on their radar for the next job that comes across their desk.
3. Be Proactive
Is there a dream company you’d like to work for? Use your LinkedIn network to find key employees and influencers at your ideal employer.
Start by making a list of no more than 20 companies within your industry. If you’ve recently graduated or don’t have much industry experience, focus on identifying companies that offer products, services, and solutions you want to be a part of.
Next, find contacts who work for the companies on your list. Invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn — always with a personalized message! Never send the generic template. Begin conversations with those who accept your invite. Keep things simple and start by asking about the company culture. For example, you could say something like, “I reached out to you because I wanted to learn more about the team structure and leadership team at Company X. Do you think you could share any details with me?”
You can ask similar questions to learn about potential problems at the organization that your skills could help solve. In later messages, once your relationship is established, you can start to ask more about open positions. Being proactive in this way can help you get a foot in the door, speeding up your job search tremendously.
4. Initiate Conversations
You should be initiating conversations everywhere — not just during formal networking opportunities. Talk to people while waiting in line to order lunch; talk to the teller at the bank. You never know who might be able to help you find your dream job.
Starting conversations can be scary, but once you do it a few times, you will see it is really not so bad. You’ll even begin to feel good doing it. Slowly but surely, your confidence will increase, and soon you’ll be a master conversationalist — an essential skill for impressing potential employers and nailing interviews.
My closing advice: Get on LinkedIn right now and fix up your profile so that it’s sure to leave a great first impression. Then, being networking with a purpose. Be proactive. Initiate conversations. Call recruiters and hiring managers directly to show off your newfound confidence.
Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is motivated by building confidence in engineers.