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Convincing people you are the perfect candidate for the role can be particularly nerve-racking and difficult. In trying to come off as extremely qualified, we sometimes stumble over our answers, repeat ourselves or simply draw a blank and sit in silence. In our attempt to impress, it’s easy to forget what really makes a difference; self confidence.

How positive we feel about ourselves and our abilities is key to making a lasting impression on recruiters. Confidence begins with understanding what you want out of your career, and maintaining an open mind for the future. It’s important you sell yourself to a recruiter, after all, they are the gatekeeper to your shot at your dream role. Here’s how to get started:

Know yourself

When career counselors assess patients to understand their goals in an effort to identify the right type of job for them, they typically begin by having patients take a simple personality test. Tests such as these can help to rule out positions that you are likely to dislike. For instance, the type of career you will be passionate about will change significantly if you are not the type of person that can sit for long periods of time or that doesn’t work well in large groups.

In addition to gaining a basic knowledge of broad aspects of a job you will like and dislike it is important to assess yourself and take into account the more minor details. Do you like working in offices with open floor plans or with cubicles? Can you work better with managers that provide little feedback or that are highly involved? Would you rather work with things or with people? Do you need a flexible lunch break?

Apply this knowledge

How does answering all of these questions for yourself help to impress recruiters? Firstly, being in tune with exactly what you want will help you to narrow down which positions are best suited to you, and equip you with great certainty that the job is perfect for both your career aspirations and your work style. 

Secondly, you will find interview questions easier to both answer and ask. When the recruiter asks how you feel about certain workplace situations you will most likely have already thought about it – you know yourself well enough to know that a position with an open floor plan will only work if you are allowed to wear headphones. Of course, this sets you up to ask your own interview questions about the office space, employee experience, etc. 

Keep an open mind

Finally, as you assess yourself for careers and identify a number of potential opportunities, be sure to keep an open mind about the types of jobs that are suggested. Often we are blinded by salary or a predetermined set of criteria that may or may not be essential for us to be happy; we frequently rule out our passions.

Interviewing for a job that you feel passionate about is going to make the biggest difference in your confidence regardless of what you originally expected. If you love your job in healthcare, but can’t stand the hospital any longer, try incorporating other passions of yours, like travel.  Public health officials often move into mobile positions that send them to different locations.

Yes, recruiters are looking for talent and skill, but they are also very interested in finding a person whose confidence sets them apart from everyone else. They want to represent people who know themselves and what they want out of a career. Building confidence through self-evaluation and an open mind in the job market are the first steps to making it happen.

About the author: Brittni Brown is a graduate student at the University of Idaho, and a budding freelance writer.


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