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Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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1 Getting back your confidence

One of the main obstacles for people who have been out of work for any length of time is reduced confidence. It’s natural to feel like this – the world of work seems fast-paced and unfamiliar. Returning to work seems like a huge and scary life change and sometimes it can be hard to believe that you still have all those work competences that you used to take for granted.

The first thing to recognise is that these feelings are completely normal and to be expected; almost everyone in your situation will feel apprehensive and nervous to some extent.

The key to building up your confidence after a break is to think positively about your achievements and build on your strengths.

Activity 1 Thinking positively to increase confidence

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

If you are feeling a bit down, negative thoughts can take over, and this in turn can impact on your behaviour, your self-belief and your aspirations for the future. Now is the time to get back in touch with your strengths, abilities, useful experience and competences.

Try this three-step exercise:

  1. Think of something you have done that you are proud of or that gave you a sense of achievement. This doesn’t have to be something from your paid work. It could be from your education, a hobby, from sport or perhaps a big challenge that you managed to overcome.
  2. Now think about the characteristics, attributes and skills that enabled you to achieve this thing. Examples might include determination, strength, creativity, focus, courage, a certain skill or a particular talent. You might have demonstrated the ability to organise, plan, manage, budget, or choose from a range of other skills. Please do not attribute all your success to luck, chance or to someone else – take ownership and be proud of what you’ve done!
  3. Write a list of the characteristics, attributes and skills you came up with. Can you think of other ways you have used these? Keep this list in your notebook, as it will help remind you how capable you are and will provide material and ideas for your job applications.