When you’re first entering the workforce, presenting yourself as a professional may feel awkward. But projecting the right image is invaluable to your career success. Here’s how to do it—and still be yourself.
Practice being pithy. When someone asks you about your skills or what you’re working on, it’s not always easy to come up with a response on the spot that conveys your intended message. Think of a couple sentences that powerfully summarize your accomplishments.
Don’t be embarrassed to brag. You might not think you have a lot to boast about yet, but that’s probably not true. Get used to owning your successes. That’s a sign of confidence—not arrogance. By the same token, be sure to praise your co-workers when they perform well, as it demonstrates that you’re a team player.
Speak sincerely. Especially in interviews, don’t feel like you have to say precisely what the other person wants to hear. When you try to do that, it often sounds like jargon. There are real reasons why you’re interested in the career path you’ve chosen—speak about those genuinely.
Make real connections. Find professional groups that truly interest you. If they’re listed on a website like Meetup, read the bios of the other members to find people you genuinely resonate with. At events, ask others about their interests—you’re in the same field, find the common ground.
Go beyond your limits. When you’re new, it may be comfortable to settle into the role of a follower, simply completing the tasks your superiors give you. But others will be unlikely to see you as a leader that way. Instead, challenge yourself. If you have an idea, speak up. When there’s an opportunity to take on more responsibilities, go for it!
Just say, “Thanks.” If someone praises your presentation, your first response might be, “Oh, it was nothing.” But if you say that often enough, people start to believe you! A simple “Thank you,” without qualifications, shows that you recognize your talents and abilities.
Starting your first “real” job—or getting that first promotion—can be intimidating. Here are some tips on how to rise to the occasion, even if you’re not completely confident.
Many of us believe there will be a better time—when we have more experience or skills—to take the next step. But that’s just your insecurity preventing you from taking a risk. Do it now!
Silence your Negative Nancy
When self-doubt rears its head, realize it’s a product of your fear, not reality. Let it go. Don’t allow it to hold you back.
Even though you might be unsure of your abilities, your superiors think you have what it takes—otherwise, they wouldn’t offer you new opportunities. Take their word for it.