Give your career confidence a boost

Written by CMI Insights Wednesday 23 November 2022
Research shows that to get ahead at work you need the confidence to self-promote. Take a deep dive into workplace confidence and use these practical tips to improve your self-confidence, self-efficacy – and your career prospects
A confident man wearing a flaming jet pack

The workplace is one place where you need a bit of confidence. The application process, with its CV, cover letter and interview questions; pay reviews; promotions; personal development plans – they all require an ability to believe in yourself and, sometimes, to big yourself up. Not to mention the need to trust yourself to successfully handle any challenges you may encounter in your every-day tasks. 

Women appear to feel this more strongly than men: in 2019 research (quoted by Harvard Business Review), women are less likely to apply for a job unless they feel they satisfy all the requirements; men seem to feel they can learn on the job. Yet a 2011 survey by careers think tank Catalyst Consulting pinpointed the ability to self-promote as having the greatest impact in determining female graduates’ success, both in terms of status and salary, in comparison to other activities such as networking and putting in long hours. Only those who drew attention to their accomplishments were promoted of the 3000 women surveyed. More recently, a 2020 study found that the confidence gap between men and women predicts the gender pay gap among STEM graduates – and that the influence of gender on starting salaries is associated with confidence.

It’s a clear message: to get ahead at work, you need the confidence to self-promote

What does confidence at work look like?

Self-confident people are generally positive and accepting of who they are; they trust in their own abilities. Confident people are more motivated and more likely to take positive action – and therefore are more likely to succeed, as well as bounce back faster after a failure.

The belief that you can overcome challenges and accomplish tasks is referred to as “self-efficacy” – and higher levels of it have widely been linked to stronger work performance, as well as a manager’s perceived effectiveness. It relies mainly on mastery (experiencing success); modelling (observing role models succeed); and persuasion (having other people believe in you). These pillars are the foundations of many of the tips below, and can be used to boost the confidence of members of your teams, too.

  • Confidence: strength of belief
  • Self-confidence: your belief in your abilities
  • Self-esteem: your belief in your worth; self-respect
  • Self-efficacy: your belief that you have the capacity and skills to accomplish a specific task

If you lack self-confidence, you might find yourself looking for external validation and conforming to certain standards to feel more accepted by others. It may also manifest as anxiety or imposter syndrome. Lower levels of self-confidence may stem from negative life experiences or perhaps your lack of workplace or managerial experience. You may feel more confident in certain contexts, but feel out of your depth in others.

In short, confidence requires a realistic and secure understanding of your capabilities. This means it is not innate; we can change it. Use these strategies to improve your own confidence – as well as foster the self-confidence of your team by incorporating them into your management style.

CMI Skills Boost

Explore the resources in CMI's curated Creating Confidence skills refresher to improve your confidence in your abilities and go further in your career. Take a look, complete three activities and receive a digital certificate.

Become a member today for full access

Keep reading for 13 practical tips to improve your workplace confidence


If you are already registered as a CMI Friend, Subscriber or Member, just login to view this article.

Confirm your registration

Login below to confirm your details and access this article.


Please confirm that you want to switch off the "Sign in with email" remember me feature.

Register for Free Access

Not yet a Member, Subscriber or Friend? Register as a CMI Friend for free, and get access to this and many other exclusive resources, as well as weekly updates straight to your inbox.

You have successfully registered

As a CMI Friend, you now have access to whole range of CMI Friendship benefits.

Please login to the left to confirm your registration and access the article.