How Over-Confidence Can Help Boost Your Career

Studies have shown that projecting more confidence may be the key to boosting women’s careers. Image source:

An over-confident woman often gets a bad rap. How many times have we heard over-confident women being described by others as ‘vain’ or ‘pushy’? It’s a sticky situation – being confident in your skills and knowledge is the best way to convince others of your abilities, but projecting a bit too much confidence can sometimes be met with backlash. To avoid being caught in such a situation, we often settle for the belief that our competence and hard work will be rewarded in due course. However, over the years we have seen that this doesn’t work as well as we’d like it to. Women’s career trajectories still look very different from men’s, and women have yet to establish a presence at top levels.

Why is this the case? Since the early 2000s, there have been numerous studies published that point the blame squarely at women’s lack of confidence. Here are three things you can do to raise your confidence level, and boost your career:

1. Close the confidence gap.

Evidence shows that men have a tendency to project higher self-confidence than women, leading to something called “the confidence gap”. When compared with men, women were less inclined to consider themselves worthy of a promotion, predicted they would do worse on tests, and grossly underestimated their own abilities. The real-world impact of this is that women are less likely to apply for certain positions, or to seek out opportunities to further their careers. One way to close that confidence gap is to match the confidence of those around you. If others around you are putting themselves forward for promotions and opportunities, push yourself to do the same. The idea of facing rejection may seem daunting, but could lead to a well-deserved career boost.   

2. Self-belief.

A lack of confidence can sometimes stem from a lack of self-belief. A survey found that the lack of self-belief amongst women is largely caused by hangups about their appearance. Don’t get me wrong – taking care of your appearance is an important part of self-care. And if you do happen to have hang ups about your appearance, it’s not your fault – research shows that many women develop their hang ups before even reaching puberty. The good news is that self-confidence is like a muscle. Consciously exercising it a little every day will strengthen it over time. Girlboss has a fantastic self-care checklist to help you get right into exercising that self-care muscle. No days off! If your body issues begin a little closer to home, check out our tips on how to maintain a body-positive mindset when faced with negativity from family members.

3. Meeting the qualifications.

Okay, so this isn’t related to confidence per se, but confidence could come in handy here. A survey of over a thousand men and women showed the most common reason for not applying for a job was that they didn’t think the company would hire them because they didn’t meet the qualifications and didn’t want to waste time or energy. While some were quick to attribute this to a lack of confidence, there is another explanation: there is a misconception that required qualifications for a job are set in stone. What most employers won’t tell you is that communicative skills, and creative approach to problem-solving can be more valuable to a company than a qualification. So while confidence isn’t really what’s holding people back here, it could pay to have that little bit of extra confidence to just listen to your gut and ignore the rules.

About Sunita Soh

Hello! I’m Sunita, a proud “dan lain-lain” Malaysian with a passion for feminism and really good char kuey teow. When I’m not rescuing cats or making endless playlists on Spotify, you can find me with my nose buried in a book or glued to my laptop watching cooking tutorials.

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