Whether you’ve just graduated, or you’re a seasoned pro, we all have career decisions that give us some anxiety. Recently, a friend’s teenager asked her, “How am I supposed to get a job based on experience if no one will hire me and give me experience?” Knowing that age-old question, my friend explained the concept of “creating confidence” – otherwise known as “fake it ‘til you make it”! 

Here is a great example: My friend Susan worked in the marketing department at a large resort. In her quest to eventually reach upper management, she pursued and landed a role as manager in the hotel’s finest restaurant. Her dilemma? She had never worked in a restaurant before and her degree wasn’t exactly in Hospitality. This seemed to be an impossible leap! 

But that wasn’t going to stop her. She saw this as the opportunity it was. She was determined to excel at hospitality services and continue to work her way up the ladder. I asked her, “How are you going to manage a restaurant? You don’t even know how to cook!” Her response, “Easy. I’ll fake it until I make it.” 

And she did! She faked it well. The truth is, for the most part, everyone knew their job in the restaurant. She wasn’t responsible for actually training chefs or telling someone how the dishwasher works. (Although she quickly learned that one on the job!) Her job was all about managing her staff and making sure the restaurant operated like a well-oiled machine. That was management – something everyone needs – not just a restaurant skill 

When she walked in confident on the first day and made her expectations clear, her staff knew she meant business. When she picked up trays and helped bus tables, her staff knew she would support them. And when she fired two employees the first week because of their habitual tardiness and laziness, the staff greatly respected her because they had been tired of picking up the slack. 

It wasn’t too long before Susan possessed the confidence she had been faking. The things she didn’t know about the restaurant business eventually came to her. She is a quick learner. But had she walked in the first day timid and uncertain of what she should do, she never would have gained the respect of her staff and the restaurant would have suffered for it. 

Do you find yourself facing moments like this? Feeling completely unequipped but wanting to be confident? How can you “fake it ’til you make it?” Even during the downtime of a pandemic, you can work on building confidence and transferable skills that make you marketable!  

Try these tips to exude the confidence you wish you had. And then, watch how that confidence will blossom through your experience. 

Research. Prepare yourself for scenarios you don’t feel comfortable in. Find out as much as you can about a new company or new clients. My friend Susan memorized the menu of her restaurant before she started her first day. Doing your homework will help instill more confidence as you walk into a new environment better equipped for what you will face. 

Truly, fake it. Be determined to walk into a room appearing confident. Give off the aura of confidence that you have seen in others and envied. (They were probably faking it too!) Don’t fidget. Make eye contact. Smile. Force yourself to appear calm. Don’t communicate to others how nervous you are or how unqualified you feel. You may think you are confiding in someone and gaining an ally, but really, you are sharing insecurities that make you appear less competent. 

But be honest. Don’t confuse faking it with lying. Be sure to be honest if you are given a task you don’t know how to do. This doesn’t mean you are incompetent, but that you need a little training. Susan faced this the second day on the job. The dishwasher broke during their lunch rush. Instead of faking that she knew everything, she was quick to say, “I’ve never even seen one of these machines before, but we will figure it out.” She called the resort maintenance staff and the manufacturer and she managed the problem. You can still communicate confidence even when you need help. 

Be positive. About yourself, about your environment, about your future. View yourself in a positive light and communicate high self-worth. Start with the way you speak. Using words such as: just, like, well, um, uh… communicate you are unsure about yourself. Believe you are the perfect fit for a great environment and that you see potential all around you. Believing in your success will propel you there. 

The truth is, those people who seem to be confident about everything? They probably also have moments when they fake it. But they are convinced of their abilities and success and you can be too! Fake it till ya make it!