How to be your own cheerleader

22 Jan 2013

It's the last day of our 10 Days to a New Career special. So far, we covered topics such as setting goals, researching possible career pathways, building a solid foundation of jobs skills and cleaning up the CVgetting serious about LinkedIn and googling yourself to cover your digital footprint, building a network of professional relationships for the sake of your career, the importance of mentors and the small matter of dressing the part for success. 

Now that you have set your goals for 2013, improved your resume, polished your LinkedIn profile and diarised some networking events for the year, it's time to put it all into action and make it happen.

But without self-confidence, your 2013 career campaign won't go very far. Even with all the support of your partner, your family, your friends or your mentor, getting what you want requires the ability to sell yourself and be your own cheerleader.

Thankfully, however, being your own cheerleader doesn't have to be about "big-noting" yourself.

Instead, career coach and brand consultant Gillian Kelly says selling yourself effectively is about showcasing the evidence of your achievements and the value you can potentially bring to an organisation.

"The best thing you can do is sit down and map out your achievements," says Kelly. "If you can work out what your strengths are and map out the achievements you've had in the past, it brings you into more of mindset that you're just presenting the evidence of what you've done in the past."

Presenting well in an interview is, of course, pivotal to getting the job you want. Making sure your interview skills are up to scratch is vital to building self-confidence and ensuring that you're not a bundle of nerves when you sit in front of a large interview panel.

"Find an astute person [to critique you] or pay somebody to improve your interview skills because the job doesn't go to the best person. It goes to the slickest sales person," says the director of Career Consultancy, Catherine Cunningham.

"Spend four or five hours on interview skills. The more senior you are, the higher the expectations are."

Tina Monk, the principal of Sydney Career Coaching, says that recruiters and employers will generally ask the same three questions during an interview (in one way or another) and to keep these in mind when practising your interview technique: Why would I hire you? Can you do the job? Are you going to fit within the organisation?

And one other thing to be aware of is your salary expectations. When it comes to communicating your expectations during an interview, you should ask for the salary you want with confidence and without hesitation.

"Be really aware of what your value is," says the director of Katie Roberts Career Consulting, Katie Roberts. "Understand all of the experience, the skills and the qualifications you have and then look at websites like Seek to see what people are being paid in your industry and role."

Embrace the fear

With all the interview training and preparation you've done, you will still undoubtedly feel a little nervous during interviews or meetings with potential employers. This fear is normal and career experts say to embrace it.

"You're never going to feel ready, you're never going to feel equipped," says psychologist and career expert Suzie Plush.

"It's just about doing that thing that scares you. As you keep moving towards what it is that you want, your confidence will grow. Often we like to feel ready but we're never going to feel ready. Be mindful of that."

HOMEWORK: What you need to do today

  • Know your value: If you haven't already, write a list of your achievements and work out your salary expectations
  • Practise: Get some interview training or practise interviewing with a friend who will be tough on you and give you honest feedback
  • Embrace the fear: Don't be afraid of asking for what you want and taking the first step. Remember that you're never going to feel completely ready.
Briana Everett

Briana Everett is a freelance writer and regular Women’s Agenda contributor. 

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