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Fake it till you make it

Projecting confidence, even if you’re new at something, helps others trust and respect you.

confidence woman phone

So you landed your dream job—earlier than you expected. And you’re not ready.

Pretend like you are.

Sure, you’ll have to seek out some training, ask for advice from the person who had the job before you and do a lot of research to get yourself up to speed.

But on Day 1, walk into that job like you’ve been doing it all your life. In other words, fake it till you make it.

Project confidence and authority, even if you feel like a fish out of water.

Your first—and most important—job when you take a new position is to sell yourself.

Even though you already sold yourself as a good fit for the job to the manager who hired or promoted you, keep selling yourself to bosses and to any employees you might be supervising.

You need to sell them on accepting you as competent and qualified for the job, even if you’re feeling unsure and underprepared.

How to ‘sell’ confidence

When you project confidence in yourself, others will feel more confident in you. Confidence builds trust. It erases anxiety. It tamps down gossip. It leads to respect.

So what can you do if you’re not feeling too confident that you can do the job you’ve been dreaming about since sophomore year of college? Here are six sure-fire ways to sell it anyway:

1. Sell yourself.

Your lack of confidence is coming from a place of self-doubt. But if you’ve been hoping to land a job just like this one, chances are you have been preparing for it.

Do an inventory of your skills, your abilities and your ideas. Replay the movie in your head—the one you’ve been scripting all along—that shows you what you would do if you had this job and how you would do it. Remember your plans. Get excited about putting them into action.

When you applied for this job, you believed you could do it. You convinced a hiring manager that you could do it.

That manager hired you for a reason. Make a list of your qualities that impressed that manager. That will help you realize you’re bringing more to the table that you might know.

2. Visualize your success.

What does success look like to you? Add on to that movie in your head. In this version, you’re killing it. You’re confident, well-liked, in charge and successful.

Conjure up that movie as often as you can. If you look into the future and imagine success, you will be more likely to go in that direction.

3. Know you deserve it.

The fact is that few people are 100 percent qualified when they start a new job. There’s always a learning curve. It’s normal and natural.

Still, so often, especially for women, a lack of confidence comes from a suspicion that they don’t deserve what they have, are offered or even what they need.If you’re doubting that you deserve the job you’ve been hired to do, dig deep to uncover why.

Did you study for it in college? Do you have skills, talent, know-how and great ideas? Are you interested enough in the work to do your best no matter what it takes?

Did you answer “no” to those questions? If so, you might want to re-evaluate whether this is the job you truly want. But even that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have a good job and interesting work to do.

But if you answered “yes” and you still don’t believe you deserve it, ask yourself another question: “Who told me that I’m not good enough for this? Who told me I can’t do this?”

And then start listening to someone else.

Let your voice be the loudest one in your head: “I deserve this. I worked for it. I’m the best person to do it.” And remember that the people who hired you think so, too.

4. Look the part.

Dressing for success isn’t an old-fashioned concept. A tried-and-true rule of thumb is that if you dress like you already have the job you want, that job will someday be yours.

So dress professionally—based, of course, on the culture of your organization. It’s OK to be the best-dressed employee in the office. Never underdress. Never get too casual. Be neat, not wrinkled and consistent about coming to work looking like you’re ready for work. Look like you took the trouble to make yourself look successful.

Also, pay attention to your body language. It’s even more important than what you’re wearing.

Hold your chin slightly up. Smile at everyone and look in their eyes when you do it; it tells people you’re happy to see them and you’re happy to be where you are. Smiling also projects warmth, contentment and confidence.

Stand up straight. Sit in the front row at meetings. When you’re at your desk, work; show others you’re busy, engaged in your projects and thoughtful about the work. Don’t slouch, act tired or put your head on your desk. Take a genuine interest in the task in front of you.

The person who will promote you to the next level will notice.

5. Speak up.

One of the best ways to project confidence is to speak with confidence.

Offer your ideas during brainstorming sessions; don’t be the one who never speaks up. If you don’t have a new idea, ask questions about the ideas others are presenting. Suggest ways to improve those ideas. Contribute something to every single meeting.

Let your managers know about your successes. If you figured out a way to solve a problem, talk about it. If you came up with a killer alternative to the basic task you were assigned, pitch it.

Even if some of your ideas don’t pan out, bosses are always impressed with employees who are constantly thinking of and sharing ways to improve products, work more efficiently or save money.

They’re also interested in employees who emerge as unofficial leaders because they have the respect and admiration of their co-workers. Take an interest in what your teammates are doing and engage them what you’re doing.

6. Learn as much as you can.

Nobody knows everything about everything on Day 1 of a new job. If you don’t and that is sapping your confidence, know that every employee you will meet at your new job also started on Day 1.

It’s also important to realize, however, that you don’t know what you don’t know. So to get up to speed and feel truly confident at work, you’ll need to ask questions, conduct research, observe others, try out your ideas—and sometimes fail, of course. You’ll need to put in extra time to learn the things you need to know and to discover the things you didn’t even know you were lacking.

Do it with confidence and before you know it, you will be the one mentoring the newcomers.

Making it

Have you ever gone to the gym for a hard workout even though you felt tired and unmotivated? Afterward, did you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world?

Can you recall a time when you felt sad or angry but had no choice but to participate in a scheduled networking or social event? You put on your game face, smiled your brightest smile and showed others you were happy to be there—even though you really weren’t. And after the party, you were so glad you went.

When you muster up what you need to play the part, you sell your mind and body on believing that you’re not playing—that you actually do feel energized, happy—or confident. Before long, you won’t simply be going through the motions; you’ll be into it.

And soon after that, you’ll actually be what you’re pretending to be: confident and ready to go.

Dr. Cindy McGovern, CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting and Author of the Wall Street Journal best seller Every Job is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work

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