Soft Skill: Self-Confidence

scared young woman in bed.

What does confidence look like? If you were to personify it, would it be a smooth greaser dude with slicked-back hair and toxic cologne? Would it jump around and do a funky dance? If you ever questioned its utter certainty, would it challenge you to a high-speed race--possibly in a red hot rod?

Okay, maybe we've just described John Travolta's character in Grease. But true confidence has nothing to do with arrogance; rather, it's a kind of inner radiance that comes out in your every word, every action--every aced interview and nailed presentation. It's an amorphous, almost undefinable quality, but be assured that employers know it when they see it. So put down the hairspray and toss that weird perfume, because AOL Jobs has the best and most comprehensive confidence tips right here.

Job searches: Putting your best self forward

Look professional
When you apply for a job you want to paint the best possible (but still accurate) picture of yourself, but interviews provide potential employers with their true first impression, beyond that grainy image on your LinkedIn page. This means you need to look the part as well as act it, so don't be afraid to gussy up (and trim that goatee, while you're at it).

Ask the right questions
For some, the most dreaded part of an interview is the end, when the interviewer asks, "So, do you have any questions for me?" You need to make sure you ask the right questions; there are no hard-and-fast rules here, but you can demonstrate your interest (and yes, confidence) by asking, for instance, about potential challenges or how the employer defines success. Just don't over-think it--this isn't Jeopardy.

Trust in your abilities
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III knows a thing or two about confidence. After all, you've got to be pretty sure of yourself in a sport where 250 pounds of solid man-mountain comes careening toward you on a routine basis. That's nothing, however, compared to the rigors of a modern-day job search. Take a look at how Griffin's lessons on the football field might help you as you start submitting resumes and hitting the classifieds.

Know how to network
Networking events can be pressure cookers of anxiety and self-doubt, more agonizing than your senior prom (and with a lamer soundtrack). But if you go into them with the right frame of mind, you can turn these potentially awkward evenings into a major asset during your job hunt.

Beware of overconfidence
Remember this? It's all too easy for the self-promotional aspect of the application process to spill over into the darker territory of egotism. Be careful not to let your cover letter feel like an infomercial--and definitely, definitely don't make an actual infomercial to supplement your application.

> Find a job as a nursing assistant

Confidence at work

You are good at things!
If you need a confidence boost, try doing something you know you're good at before jumping into a potentially scary task. For example, if you're great at writing, try to write for a set period once a day. If you're great at shucking clams, go ahead and get shuckin' (just don't do it at your desk). The key is to remind yourself that you are worthy, and you are capable, and you can handle whatever's thrown your way--even if it's giving you a case of the butterflies.

It pays to have a good grasp of your strengths and weaknesses. Without getting obsessive, look for ways you can integrate the former, and reduce the latter. If you're getting hung up on your weaknesses, repeat previous clam-shucking until confidence returns.

Creative jobs
You know designer and educator John Kolko's a confident man, because he's gouged his earlobes so that they're the size of dinner plates. But he also has some very real things to say in this video about the necessity of confidence when you're working in a creative field. Check it out.

Confident leadership
Bosses and team leaders know a thing or two about the importance of confidence, but sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Social entrepreneur Courtney Spence has some advice about owning your expertise in this video about turning self-confidence into confident leadership.

> Find a job as a payroll specialist

Don't get discouraged

Bouncing back from career disappointments
There's no shame in a job not working out, but even larger career disappointments shouldn't leave you paralyzed. Believe it or not, there's a formula for working these things out. Take a look.

Confidence boosters
When we talk about confidence, what we're really talking about is being happy. And happiness goes beyond the workplace--way beyond it--so why not try one of these time-honored confidence boosters when you find yourself in a rut? And if those fail, there's always cat videos.

> Find a job as an office administrator

Photo source: Getty Images

Check out more quotes on self-confidence here.
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