How I Went From Very Shy to Less Shy

Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind.

When I was a child, I was confident because at that time, I had no fear of the “unknown.”

In most cases, when we are young we just go with it and enjoy play, light conversation and meeting new people (making new friends) etc. There are no rules on how to be… we just are who we are at that moment in our young lives and we are not being judged by anyone. Perhaps the biggest decisions we make as children are; which toy to play with or which one of our friends are free to play jump rope with. (well.. in my day anyway)

Let’s talk about fear..  I have a very early example of this. 1973 aged 7- I was a Brownie and due to take part in a Christmas concert with my troop.. there must have been over 100 people in the audience (mainly proud parents.) We were performing “The 12 days of Christmas” and my part was.. “and a partridge in a pear tree.”

One line, easy to remember however; the act of delivering this was frightening. I was in the spotlight, which for most people is where they get stuck.  At that early stage in my life, I didn’t know about believing in myself or my abilities.. who would?  So I forced myself to sing to cue and almost missed my line once, before my troop leader gently tapped my shoulder to encourage me. The performance ended and I was relieved after many happy and proud parents applauded all of us kids. phewww.. it was over.

Why was I so afraid?  Why are people generally nervous and scared to be in the spotlight?  Actor’s who we perceive to be extremely confident also claim to be nervous every time they perform. Let me skip ahead to my working years and share with you how I overcame shyness.

So, “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” yes… really and this was the beginning of my confidence building because A) I was in the “spotlight” and B) I was “performing” in front of strangers.

My good performances resulted in rewards (tips) and when I was off kilter, not so much. 15 years in the hospitality industry overcoming public appearances face-to-face with happy people, grumpy people, celebrities and new event challenges, encouraged my   ability to feel more confident and so, I started a new challenge.

I began working for a globally recognised company and brand, where my people skills were valued even more. I rose from service advisor to sales advisor/ team leader and then technical advisor in less than 2 years. I was the go-to person for both customers and new recruit training and loved interacting with and helping people. As my training mentor has always said, “I could sell ice to an Eskimo” and had positive persuasion skills.  Positivity is a “state of mind” and so is confidence. So I soaked up all that I could in the 5 years that I was employed there before embarking on the adventure known as the next stage of my life. Hang in there, I’ll get to the point but if you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know that I enjoy telling stories and taking you on a mental journey.

All aboard…. next stop North West, England.  A different culture and a new beginning. How did I prove myself to yet more strangers? My husband is one of the most confident people I know. Not arrogant by any means, but genuine and very approachable. He makes friends wherever he goes and I was never like that. He uses the “icebreaker” technique, which is such a simple concept, but one that you need to follow up and not be afraid to continue being yourself. I used to be the type of person that went to a party and stuck like glue to one or two people I knew in order to be part of it all, I didn’t have self-belief at that time or confidence in being myself to just mingle with anyone.  I was simply…ME. Me from the very beginning of this story. Happy to be a part of something but froze under pressure.  I must admit, with age comes a new kind of confidence and so I conjured up all of my powers and promised myself I would break down my wall.

After learning that a fair amount of companies   in the UK prefer presentations as a means to rate one’s confidence in an interview, I   swallowed my fear and came up with a plan.

During my first presentation, I decided to wear a mask. You think I’m kidding don’t you?  Well.. I wore my glasses, which provided a mask-like protection that physcologically helped my confidence, as I felt that I was not fully exposed. I performed pretty well and if it wasn’t for the lack of a driver’s licence, I would have gotten the job. Personally, I don’t believe in presentations as part of an interview because A) It’s not a natural   environment and  B) I believe in getting to know the person.

I’m a people person (as you’ve probably gathered) and generally have good feelings or intuitions. So, I played the game several times during my career, with no training just being me and spreading my passion about subjects, people and experiences.  I’ve created events, chaired meetings, started focus groups in order to share ideas and working   practices and find that focusing on liked-minded people, relationships and common goals is by far the best way to nurture   your mind and confidence. My state of mind has grown and so will yours if you’re true to yourself.

Some of the examples I’ve used might help you.  I’ll break them down briefly in 5 steps:

  1. Believe in yourself and take baby steps to master your fear
  2. Use a conversation “Icebreaker” and stick with the conversation
  3. Be yourself-It is much easier
  4. Wear or use something that comforts you or makes you feel more confident
  5. Be honest and talk about or do things that you know how to do (pretending is nerveracking)

I hope my story can help you in some way.

With love,

Hands-on

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CV or not CV.. that is the question

CV-funny

If you’re originally from the states like I am, then you will know that the CV is known as the  résumé in this instance. Let’s face it.. the title would have been difficult to create… what really rhyme’s with  résumé  anyway?

ré·su·mé

or re·su·me or re·su·mé  (rĕz′o͝o-mā′, rĕz′o͝o-mā′)

n.

1. A brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.
2. A summary: a résumé of the facts of the case.

Okay, now down to the nitty-gritty….

“This above all: to thine own self be true” what a wonderful quote(Thanks Will!) This is what you should be portraying in your CV.  A CV as you may or may not know, should be a “snapshot” of who you are today with a frame suited to what you are currently seeking. (e.g. goals, roles etc) Apologies, but for some reason I cannot stop rhyming!

If you’re like me and have perfected a CV,  you know that it takes a lot of time, effort and thought.  (almost as much as the actual interview preparation takes) Yet, for some reason, many employers and companies  ask that you complete an application to make it easier for them to read or score.  I do understand the reason behind this but disagree that the CV should completely be eliminated. It’s almost like asking someone to cover their phone calls at work… even though they use and answer the phone, they don’t specifically answer someone else’s. They have the knowledge and confidence with their calls or in this case, their CV, which is a personal and professional presentation.

There is also very little CV preparation and guidance support from educational institutions, which needs to change. I’ve received numerous CV’s from applicants during my career from under 30’s that were so poor, I was almost tempted to fix them all to give them a chance at securing an interview.  We live in a competitive world these days and how you present yourself on paper is quite important. Although…. I’d be curious to conduct a test without the need for a CV and invite someone in who calls and asks for an interview because they want a job doing what we’re advertising.  Hmmmmm

LinkedIn is also a good way of showcasing your professional background and if an applicant has recommendations included, “wallah” instant reference’s! Genius! How many employer’s today use LinkedIn to recruit?  Perhaps a lot more than a couple of years ago.

So I ask you the question again…. CV or not CV?

By the way, I have included a pretty good CV-template-2015, for those that need one.  Just doing my bit to help.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions.

Hands-on

Secret recipe.. or is it?

As a job candidate, have you ever been told that you have too much experience?

There is no such thing as too much experience however; there are still some employer’s who are providing this feedback following an interview.  They might not use those exact words however; it could go something like this: “We felt that although you definitely met the criteria and we really liked you,  this role is below your level of expertise”.

What that says to the person applying is this: “After taking the time to apply, prepare and research your company, you do not believe that I’m serious about wanting this job”.

The employer may be thinking:

  1. This candidate won’t be full-filled in their role and leave if a better offer comes along
  2. They could be a threat to my job
  3. We’ll need to increase their wages sooner than the average candidate

The employer is entitled to think and feel that way, but having not given the right person a chance is a darn shame.

The truth is, the candidate is  disappointed because they never had the opportunity to prove that they could be an asset to the company.  Their confidence has probably taken a knock at this point too, for what they believed was a “perfect match” for them.   The best advice I can give is, keep going and believe in yourself … the right opportunity will come a long.

What can the candidate do to change  this outcome?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Clearly explain in your CV and/or application WHY you want the role including your reason for applying for a lower level position
  • Pace yourself and don’t be overly confident
  • If there’s an opportunity to pitch your position during the interview, do it
  • Thank them for their time and reiterate that you would be delighted to have the opportunity to join their company if successful

There are no guarantees with these suggestions, but they can only help.

Now back to the employer…. what they’re looking for is pretty clear within their person specification and guidelines but what they really need to take into consideration are these qualities and traits:

  • Positive attitude
  • Enthusiasm
  • Knowledge of the company and role
  • Previous core skills and experience
  • Will they fit into the company’s culture (This is very important)

I am a strong believer in corporate culture and finding the right fit for employer and employee.  The way to do this during an interview is to allow the candidate to openly “sell themselves” by asking the right questions.  Sorry to say that I do not believe in scoring sheets to interview people. Scoring should be reserved for games and this is not a game.. it’s your company’s future success and the candidate’s lively hood at stake.

Do you have a secret recipe for recruiting the right person?  I’d love to hear your techniques.

Thanks for reading,

Nancy