By Mia Casey
In the past, people were able to land amazing jobs without a university degree. This has changed, and now having a bachelor’s degree is almost standard. This creates a strange generational divide where university is largely normalized amongst younger generations (at least in large cities such as Sydney), but pressure is still being put on students to achieve excellent results and land a successful career right after graduation (as this was a more common outcome many years ago).
In addition to this, we put pressure on ourselves to achieve success (and do it quickly), particularly if we have friends or family in successful roles, or high earning industries. This pressure can make it very difficult to remain calm and confident when meeting employers face-to-face.
So how can you be confident (or at least appear it) when meeting employers for the first time?
Whether you know it or not, the pitch of your voice changes depending on who you’re talking to. When talking to someone you perceive as being of a higher social status than yourself, you’re more likely to pitch your voice higher than were you talking to someone of your same social status.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a higher pitched voice is generally viewed as being less threatening and somewhat deferential, thereby potentially easing a professional relationship. However, it has been noted that “People can sound young and breathless when speaking up the chain of command” (x), which could potentially impact how confident you appear to potential employers.
Now don’t go using a deep baritone when meeting industry professionals if that isn’t your usual register. What you can do is use certain techniques such as ‘swallowing to relax the throat, releasing a clenched jaw and managing breath flow’ (x) to ensure your voice is closer to its natural pitch.
The other main way to ensure the pitch of your voice remains steady and strong, is to do research prior to any employer meeting, including interviews, conference calls, or networking events. If you know about the person you’re talking to and the company they’re from, it’s easier for you to remain in control, confident, and fully engage with the employer at their level.
This may seem rather obvious, but recognising and managing how you’ve positioned yourself when meeting someone for the first time is a pretty important element in appearing confident. You want your back to be straight, fidgeting to be kept to an absolute minimum (including bouncing your leg, fiddling with a pen, of continuously fixing your clothes or hair), and maintain strong eye contact during your conversation.
Also try to avoid closed body language, especially in an interview. Avoid crossing your arms, holding an object protectively in front of yourself (eg. Don’t hide behind your resume!), or crossing your legs and leaning away from the person you’re speaking with. You want to look interested in what the other person has to say. So instead of being closed off, angle yourself towards them to show you’re listening, nod along as they speak, and try not to let your gaze drift too much during the conversation.
Dress to impress
One of the quickest ways to communicate what you’re about to a new acquaintance, is through your clothing. What you wear sends a silent message to other people about who you are, including whether you’re confident or not.
If you know you’re going to be meeting with employers, be sure to wear something that fits with your industry, is comfortable, and makes you feel like a badass. If your industry is super chill and no one wears business attire, then go with that and dress in something comfortable. If your industry does have more of a corporate stance, invest in at least one professional outfit that fits you well, and uses mainly breathable fabrics (you don’t want to be sweating all over a potential employer).
Regardless of your style of clothes, make sure they are clean, ironed, in good condition, and fit you well.
So next time you’ve got an interview, networking opportunity, or industry event, keep these tips in mind, channel your inner Beyoncé/Ryan Gosling, and be your confident, badass self!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.