Self-confidence, recruitment and 2021

For many people and businesses, life in 2020 and 2021 has not turned out the way they expected.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to career interruptions, lost jobs and struggling companies. A common side-effect of all of this is problems with self-confidence. It’s a common thing to see in the engineering and manufacturing recruitment industry:

Some employers are finding that both they and their teams are battling to maintain their self-confidence levels.

Many people looking for jobs are finding their self-confidence impacted by virtual interviews and repeat applications if they don’t quite manage to get their dream job the first time they apply.

So what can we do about the problem? Let’s take a look at self-confidence and recruitment in 2021:

Causes of a lack of self-confidence

1) Listening to your self-critical voice

Almost everyone has that little negative voice in their head telling them that they won’t get this job, that they don’t deserve that promotion, or that their latest venture is doomed to failure.

Unfortunately, that critical voice deeply undermines your self-confidence. It also lies. Learning to accept that you may have an automatic mental response like this – and that that response can’t be trusted – is often the first step towards building your self-confidence.

2) Relying on one someone else’s opinion of you

An easy way to find yourself with low self-esteem is to base your opinion of yourself on what others think of you.

This can be one of the hardest parts of going through the manufacturing or engineering recruitment process. If you fail to get a high-competition position, you can start to feel judged.

It’s important to remember that this is just one small setback. There are plenty of opportunities out there – perhaps one that’s even better suited to you. Don’t get fixated on this one.

3) A vicious cycle

A lack of self-confidence can be a vicious cycle. Whatever first impacted your self-esteem – whether it’s something that happened in childhood or a financial hit to the company you run – it can be difficult to prevent one negative thought from building on another.

A good strategy is to look back to times when you have succeeded in the past. Remind yourself that this is just an aberration.

Signs of a lack of self-confidence

For employers worried about team members who may be suffering from a crisis of confidence, some of the possible signs are:

  • An inability to make eye contact
  • Defensiveness when faced with even mild criticism
  • Constant overwork, rooted in that self-critical belief they need to do more
  • High resistance to change, again rooted in a belief they can’t handle change

Self-confidence challenges during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own share of special self-confidence challenges with it.

Extreme amounts of time spent privately alone but publicly online have led to large numbers of people who can’t face turning on their own cameras. This can have a knock-on effect in real-world communications.

Employers and managers should encourage team members who don’t want to show their faces to slowly get used to the idea of doing so. If you struggle with this personally, gradually building up the number of times you do is also a smart idea.

Equally, there should be a recognition that this has been a truly unprecedented year. No one – from experienced veterans of the industry to people just starting their first engineering or manufacturing jobs – is expected to cope with the situation perfectly.

How to improve your self-confidence

1) Get some balance in your life

A lack of self-confidence can be exacerbated by a failure to do the basics to stay healthy and balanced. If you feel this way, it’s worth asking yourself when was the last time you:

  • Got a good night’s sleep
  • Ate healthily
  • Went and got some exercise (even if it’s just a casual walk)
  • Reached out to a friend (even virtually)
  • Did something creative

2) Imagine yourself in the future

One strategy for boosting self-confidence is to picture how you will be a more confident person in six months and start taking steps towards getting there.

It doesn’t have to be everything at once. You don’t have to aim to be your most confident self. Just a bit more confident than you are right now.

3) Small steps

What might those steps towards a slightly more confident you involve?

It could be something simple like bringing more balance into your life with better exercise or reaching out to a friend. It could be doing a little work on your interview technique with a family member (even if it’s virtual – especially if it’s virtual).

Worried about turning on your camera when you’re on Zoom? Maybe create a workstation where you feel more confident. Maybe take the time to practice turning on the camera and seeing if you are content with the version of yourself you’re projecting there. Better lighting or a new position might make you feel that much more in control.

4) Build relationships

Starting new manufacturing or engineering jobs has been stranger than normal over the past year or so. In the UK, some people have only recently had their first meeting with colleagues who they have worked with for months virtually.

This lack of personal contact can be damaging to your self-confidence. Try to reach out to organise a chat – even if it’s over a quick Zoom with a cup of tea in hand. Things are much easier when you know the person behind the Teams “handle” just that little bit better.

If you’re struggling to make the effort yourself, it can be worth speaking to your boss or line manager to ask who they think it would be good for you to get to know. Not as a networking exercise, but to build some confidence-boosting social links.

5) Don’t focus on the outcome – focus on the process

Achieving a future goal of a more self-confident you is possible. But it’s much easier to achieve if you focus on taking the small steps.

Improve your life balance. Build relationships. Do the little tasks required to build yourself into a more confident position. Actual self-confidence will flow from there.

Looking for an interview for a job you could really feel confident doing?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist manufacturing and engineering recruitment company. We always talk through our clients’ backgrounds and goals as well as their hard skills.

There’s no pressure. Get in touch today to chat about where you see yourself in six months.