On knockbacks and building up career confidence

Confidence and career

It’s funny how certain things can shake your confidence to the core.

For example, in my professional career, I’ve never gotten interviewed for a job I didn’t get.

(I definitely DON’T count my history of part-time jobs while studying … it’s ridiculous how hard I tried to get a retail job and could never break out of hospo/customer service. But in the end I managed to crack the office admin market, and that suited me WAYYY better.)

So when a coworker at a previous job offhandedly mentioned that I wasn’t the first choice candidate to get that role, I had a bit of an internal meltdown. It all worked out, she assured me, for the best, because I was a great fit for the position. The preferred applicant had terrible references, while mine were glowing, which sealed the deal and led to an offer.

I put my streak down to the fact that although I’ve never had a 5-year plan or 10-year plan (or hell, any plan beyond about 6 months to a year, tops) when I HAVE set my sights on the next step, I’ve had a pretty good idea of what I wanted.

But I still suffer terribly from impostor syndrome. Clearly I know my shit to some degree, or I wouldn’t be where I am today. And yet most of the time I still feel like I don’t belong. Particularly as my personality is all kinds of wrong for the professional working world and its open plan offices: introverted, highly sensitive, a slow burner rather than an on-your-feet thinker, someone who needs a maker’s schedule rather than a manager’s schedule.

Although it’s a long, slow work in progress, I am finally shoring up my own confidence, independent of external factors. If that conversation were to happen today, I honestly think that would flow right past me. I mean that, for real.

Let’s take my reactions to a couple of recent situations.

One involved harsh criticism of something I worked on, voiced by someone much higher up the food chain than me. Once upon a time that would have devastated and humiliated me, and probably kept me up at nights in a furious tangle for days after. Instead, I was cool as a freaking cucumber throughout. I felt hardly any emotion at all. I had utter faith in the work and no doubts whatsoever. This was a view shared by and backed up by several other people – I promise it wasn’t a case of me having blinkers on or being precious about the whole thing.

Another had nothing to do with me but was one of those cases where it fell to me to straighten things out. This had me second guessing myself a few times, I admit. And I have never been the type of person to say “I am 100% sure that…” But I was, in fact, certain of this particular fact, and I stated this out loud. This was for a minor, tiny thing really … but mustering the courage to draw that line was a huge deal for me. And I was right.

Confidence – it hurts when it gets chipped away in big chunks, but it builds back up again over time without you even noticing.

5 thoughts on “On knockbacks and building up career confidence

  • Reply Kathryn May 17, 2017 at 09:39

    I only somewhat recently learned the term “imposter syndrome” and it made me feel so much better about myself (it’s a real thing!), lol.

    The world needs us introverts, but it can seem tough when everyone seems to value being outgoing extroverted social types. We need all kinds of people :).

  • Reply Sense May 17, 2017 at 10:24

    Goodonya for taking a realistic view of a critique!

    I think we are both the type of person that knows both what they do know AND what they don’t. That knowledge of ourselves makes us stay silent when we aren’t 100% confident in our answers. However, folks around us should know/learn that when we DO speak up, they’d better damn well listen.

  • Reply Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 17, 2017 at 16:07

    There was a time I got every job I interviewed for, and then the Recession hit and boy did that streak shatter into a million pieces.

    When I finally did land the job, I also discovered a year on that I wasn’t the first choice candidate but the timing of that discovery made a huge difference. Anytime in the first year it would have been a blow to absorb.
    By the time I heard it though, I was a bit smug. I’d faced down so many crises that frankly I knew I was the best they could possibly have gotten and anyone else would have been a poor second. I was that confident. And frankly? This opinion was shared by quite a few people at the top of the food chain based solely on my results: a crack team, highest productivity in the history of that team, and every mistake was turned around. We weren’t perfect, obviously, we were just Really Good.

  • Reply The Luxe Strategist May 18, 2017 at 12:39

    You sound very similar to me in the work environment. I definitely operate differently from most other people in the office, and it’s noticeable.

    I used to feel like how you do when I’d interview for an apartment and didn’t get chosen. Because apt interviews are basically the same as job interviews. Then I’d wonder if I my personality was defective.

    And I also feel bad when I don’t get a job–even if it’s one I don’t want! Because you always want to get chosen, you know? But most of the time, it’s a personality mismatch, which wouldn’t have worked out anyway. And that has nothing to do with my skills or anything.

    I definitely think confidence grows as you get older. Glad you’re figuring it out.

  • Reply Erik @ The Mastermind Within May 25, 2017 at 09:13

    The “fraud police” is a term I learned for people who are always watching you and calling you out for being an imposter.

    Recently, I’ve been doing better on being prepared on what I’m talking about so there’s less impostering (that’s not a word, oh well).

    Thanks for sharing

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