Having confidence is about feeling self-assured that what we think, believe or do is right or okay. When we are confident, we can give something our full effort or attention without holding back or doubting ourselves. It usually means we are more willing to try new things and step outside our comfort zone. We can feel confident in ourselves generally and/or we can feel confident about our ability to do specific things.

Feeling that we lack confidence is a very common concern amongst students, particularly when others appear more confident than we feel. Confidence tends to build from new experiences, being in new environments and meeting new people – it’s about stepping out of our comfort zones and trying new things, despite how we may be feeling. It can also be helped by considering our mindset, thinking positively about the skills and capabilities we do already have and focusing on the good reasons we have for trying something new. Seeing any setbacks as expected and keeping going can also be a good way for us to continue our confidence journeys.

When we have career confidence, this tends to mean that we feel confident that we can achieve our career goals and achieve the job role/career path that we would like for our future.

Activities where you could develop confidence

Any activities that involve working with new groups of people or involve making something new happen usually build our confidence levels. For example, working on a group project, delivering a presentation or leading a seminar discussion can all build confidence as part of your degree programme. You can still build confidence even if things don’t go to plan, or you face setbacks!

Recent research with second year Manchester students over three years found that work experience, volunteering and taking student roles in societies, or as a student representative, were the most cited activities that enabled our students to grow in confidence.

  • Work Experience Part-time jobs, internships and placements can all build confidence levels
  • Volunteering The Volunteer Hub has lots of volunteering opportunities you can join in
  • Student Societies Getting onto the committee of a society, or starting one up yourself, can give you the opportunity to build responsibility and make something new happen.
  • Peer Mentoriing and PASS Support other students through their studies and wider university life and build your confidence
  • Support Student Led projects like Enactus Work with others on a worthwhile project which makes an impact on the community.

More help and ideas to build your confidence levels:

How is confidence assessed in recruitment?

Confidence tends not to be directly assessed as a specific recruitment competence or attribute, but it is something that it noticed by recruiters and that can help us to demonstrate our other positive qualities more readily. When we feel confident, we tend not to doubt ourselves and our abilities and we are more likely to be forthcoming offering evidence or examples of our skills and being willing to say what we are thinking in interviews and discussions.

As a student or graduate it can be tempting to want to wait until we feel more confident before applying for opportunities – but it is often the activities of reaching out, seeking help and applying for things that enables us to get the feedback that we need and that builds our confidence levels.

In a study of University of Manchester students over three years, each year group consistently felt the least confidence about marketing themselves effectively to potential employers on applications /at interviews. Seeking help and support with these activities could be a good starting point for building your own career confidence and ensuring you are promoting your skills and experience in the best way.