Why job confidence is all in the mind

Oct 20, 2016

If you believe you can get a great graduate job, you can

If you look at the root or even route of success in the life of any person who has succeeded at anything you will find it comes down to their beliefs.

They believed they had it in them. Similarly, belief must be the single most important factor in determining how successful you are in your desire to find a great job after you graduate.

If you believe that it is not possible then you will not even try, thereby sealing your fate and turning your belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If, on the other hand, you believe the opposite, and that it is indeed possible to find a great job, then you will of course stand a far better chance of making it happen.

Belief opens the mind to possibilities

It is most bizarre but true that the moment we decide that we are going to focus on something we begin seeing possibilities coming toward us. I’m sure you’ve experienced this: the moment you make up your mind that you are going to buy a certain model of car you start to see that particular model everywhere. If you decide that you are going to buy a red model because no one else has one, guess what? You’ll begin seeing red models everywhere. We start to notice things because our brains are now geared up to helping us spot opportunities that are going to help bring us closer to that goal.

Recent research looking at students’ beliefs about their own abilities to change or develop useful attributes proves this true. Reported by the British Psychological Association, the research confirmed that it’s not just people’s abilities that are important in life but their beliefs about their abilities. If a student believed that traits like intelligence and self-control are malleable rather than fixed they tended to do better at mental tasks and in life in general. Students who believed in “free will” in the philosophical sense tended to do better academically.

Confidence v Competence

In their book, The Confident Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman argue that confidence is more important than competence – it can get your foot in the door where you have the opportunity to build on and strengthen your competence.

One way we can see this in operation is in the thinking that influences the decisions girls make over their careers in comparison to boys. An article in the Telegraph recently reported that girls tend to go for “worthwhile” jobs while boys go after big salaries. Oxford University, who commissioned the research, said that when girls do this they are “self-limiting” their career options in favour of low paying jobs. The “worthwhile” jobs girls go for are generally characterised by more ‘informal’ recruitment policies – like via an internship or doing unpaid work – which tend not to require a high level of confidence.

By contrast, boys go for higher salaries because they have higher aspirations for their future career.

What can we deduce from this? That it is the beliefs of the girls that determine what type of career they have and what level of salaries they are paid.

If you take anything away from this it must be a decision to work on your beliefs about yourself, about your career and about your abilities. Aim just a step higher. If you come across a job advert for a position you normally wouldn’t dream of going for, go for it. See what happens.

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