I had a client recently who was really struggling. She’d been made redundant and was grieving the death of a family member. She had clashed with an unsympathetic, difficult manager in her previous job, and had totally lost her confidence. We agreed that she needed help with building her confidence and some gentle pushing in the right direction.
My client knew she had a lot of experience and that she was good at her work. But she felt easily intimidated and was scared to use her voice. She felt frustrated because she saw that this was happening but didn’t know how to deal with it.
A disconnect between what she wanted, and what she was doing.
When she first started talking to me my client was in the process of searching and applying for jobs. But she found herself going for positions that were below her experience level and salary requirements. She was too intimidated to go for more senior positions. She didn’t feel confident enough. Deep down she wanted to maybe branch out into a different sector, earn more money, live more comfortably, but her wishes and her actions weren’t tallying.
We worked together on some confidence building activities. We started by listing her abilities and skills, such as communication and presentation skills. Next, we assessed her use of them. Then, I got her to step back and actually look at the reality. Was she indeed ‘mediocre’ or ‘not very good’ at something? Or, was it that she didn’t have the motivation, satisfaction or support in that environment? Could it be that she was being too harsh on herself, and was way more capable than she was giving herself credit for?
Another task to help build her confidence was to start contacting people in companies she’d like to work for, to ask for advice. Find out if they knew of any job opportunities, or if they could advise her on the application process, anything that felt appropriate. She used LinkedIn for this, finding people within her network who seemed approachable, to ask for help.
At first she was quite hesitant, she wasn’t used to ‘putting herself out there’ and felt that people would see her as a nuisance. She was very concerned with bothering people. My response to this was – most people like to help, and the worst someone would probably do is ignore your request. What’s there to lose?
Thanks to her willingness to get out of her comfort zone and be brave, she went for it, and asked people for tips. She ended up getting a job interview with a company she had previously set her sights on. Even better, she was then offered an interview with another company which was even more appealing, and she accepted a job offer.
Ready for change.
My client was so ready for a change, and so determined, that she turned things around. She felt vulnerable, worried and unconfident. But she knew that she had to be proactive and that she couldn’t wait for a new job to appear. She had to make it happen.
Not long ago I saw that my client had posted a very open, vulnerable blogpost on social media, sharing her experience. A post that would likely help a lot of people struggling in the same way. Something my client would never in a million years have thought of doing when we first spoke. A sure sign her confidence has grown.
Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.