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How to stop low self-esteem from losing your dream job

by Marya Jan

A lot of people have low self esteem.

They lack self confidence and social skills. They feel shy and awkward around other people and have exaggerated concern about what others think of them.

They feel reluctant to take on challenges and feel hesitant to step up and take initiative. They are risk-averse. They are especially hard on themselves.

Their low self esteem also manifests itself in their behaviours and body language. Either they are too quiet or they never speak up.

Now imagine these same people looking for a job, looking to change careers or meet face to face with an opportunity that could lead to landing their dream job.

What do you think will happen?

Do you think all of a sudden these people will overcome all the confidence issues and anxiety and just nail the application, the screening or the interview?

Do you think they will suddenly develop the communication skills to impress the heck out of their potential employer?

Imagine yourself in their shoes. What would you do?

I am guessing you would be too scared to do anything. Either you will be panic stricken or just plain unbearable.

Either way, that is a really sad way to screw up the opportunity that might never come across your way again.

Or you might even have some self esteem issues of your own; you might think you are not good at getting your point across or you are not really qualified to get a good paying job.

You need to manage your self esteem issues, as far as your job hunting goes – and do it fast.

And I am here to help.


Before you even begin your job search process, you must admit that you don’t feel confident about yourself or in certain situations. Problem identified is problem half solved – that is true in most cases and is certainly applicable in this as well.

You need to truly accept who you are and then learn not to be too hard on yourself and also work to improve your weaknesses or work around them. You won’t get the results on day one but you could save yourself some heartache by getting smarter with your job hunting process.


Above all, you need to do is to believe that you can get over your low confidence and negative self esteem. You must truly convince yourself before you can convince somebody else.

Habits and behaviours are hardest to change. You also need to accept this reality. This will take time but making the initial commitment to you is the first, most crucial step in the right direction.

When you call on your internal coach, you significantly increase the odds of actually making it happen. Just by saying ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’, you are more likely to get it done.


Make a list of all your accomplishments and achievements on your current and previous jobs.

List all the nice things people have told you (I know it’s hard. Accepting compliments is not something that comes naturally to you.) Think back to all those times where people thanked you for a job well done, or simply helping them out and being really useful.

Compile all the results you helped show. Remember all the awards and promotions.

Ask yourself what comes easily to you that others find it incredibly hard or challenging. Are you technologically savvy, or really good with written words? Are you ace at creating spreadsheets or have a head for numbers? Do you have the ability to meet all deadlines no matter what?

Call other people and ask other people to tell you what your best qualities are. Just as a reminder and further reassurance. That is one of the most fun exercises you will ever do.


Practice positive self talk.

Yes, talk gently to yourself about how good you are at what you do. I am not being crazy.

Before you go to your next interview, say to yourself that you are going to nail it. You will be calm and confident and you will say everything in a positive manner and make it a great success for everyone involved.

Yes, it will really seem strange at first. However by engaging in pep talks, your subconscious will start to soak it up and start acting it out. This is the outcome you are after.

Sharon Fountain, president of the National Association for Self-Esteem advises making a red stop sign and posting it on your phone, computer or office wall as a reminder to dispute negative thoughts (and exchange them for positive ones).


Every time you find yourself spiralling downhill, visualize some loved one’s face. Think of all the images of them supporting you and believing in you.

British researchers found doing this leads your brain to producing more oxytocin, a bonding hormone that boosts your feelings of self-worth! And, by just reminding yourself of someone who believes in you, you can soothe away some of that anxiety.

Be Realistic

If you set up too high expectations of yourself, you are sabotaging your job hunt process and setting yourself up to fail.

Go back to the step where you have compiled a list of everything you have accomplished. Also, you know the things you are not particularly good at. Set your goals to be slightly above this level. Just linger on the outside of your comfort zone.

This is truly the key to success. Many people set up goals that are too hard or unrealistic and when they don’t realize them, they blame themselves for not being good enough or not trying hard enough. Whereas the problem lies with incorrect goals setting.


Don’t think it is only you. Job hunting is a nerve wracking process for most people. It leads to anxiety and less than positive emotions. One way to combat that is to get the support of others.

Get the help of career advisors and enlist support of friends and family. Don’t do this alone. They have been there and truly care about how. They want you to be successful as much as you do, even if not more. Try it and you might be surprised.

Here are some concrete ways you can squish your self esteem issues and go after your dream job.

Set SMART Goals

When you set goals, make sure they are be S.M.A.R.T. This is an acronym for a checklist to ensure that what you are after are goals and not dreams. Meaning your goals need to be:

Specific – Example: You are after a entry level position in the fashion industry.

Measurable – Example: You need to send a certain need to resumes.

Actionable – Example: You have a process in place.

Realistic – Example: You have a degree in fashion design and some trainee experience.

Time-bound – Example: You will land that position within 6-8 months or get another job.

Improve a Skill

When you set clear goals, you also come face to face with your shortcomings – and that’s fine. You have two choices in this scenario, either work around your weaknesses or work on them.

Here we talk about working on improvement on something that you can’t ignore. Say you are not a people’s person. If, for the most part, you work alone, than that is not a big issue. However if you still need to make presentations in front of other members of the department, you really need to improve your public speaking skills. Enrol in a short course.

Do Something Productive

Think about the jobs you have been putting off. They don’t have to be job hunting related. Just by getting some items checked off your to-do list will be a huge boost to your self esteem.

Volunteer your time in places that closely align with your career path. If you want to work in sales, go get some experience in working behind the counter. If you are interested in landing a job in finance, ask if you could help out with the spreadsheets of someone who runs their business.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Try doing this exercise: every time you are feeling discouraged and feel crushed with negative thoughts, sit down and write all the things you are grateful for in your life. I guarantee you, it is impossible to do this and not come out feeling so much better and optimistic.

As for your job hunting, list all the positives. Have you been blessed to go a top school and have a highly valuable degree? Did you get great comments from your teacher? Do people admire that you always do what you say you will? Did the interviewer compliment you on something in your last interview? Any positive words from the career counsellor?

Jot them down and revisit them regularly.

Dress Up For a Formal Evening

Lastly, just dress up and go out as if you are meeting some really important people. Learn to be confident with who you are and how you present yourself to the world.

Your education, skills, experience and how you present yourself – these are the ingredients of a successful job interview. You can do this.

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