I’ll never be on their level. I’m not good enough. They’re so much better than me.
In this industry, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the comparison game. There are so many talented PR practitioners and it can feel impossible to get even a sliver of what they’ve got. But I’ll let you in on a secret:
We’re all winging it. Everyone. Your supervisors, managers, CEOs, professors—no one has the answers to everything in the universe. And even if they have an answer, they’re not always right 100% of the time.
I’ve spoken on stage at big conferences, I’ve met celebrities and I’ve launched amazing campaigns for brands you probably know. I’ve also doubted myself, cried under pressure, and Googled the answer. Everyone has.
So, what now? First, understand that at some point in their lives, every practitioner has been where you are. Second, check out this list of confidence boosters you can start doing right now to squash your imposter’s syndrome—all without spending a single dollar.
Put your accomplishments on paper
Whether you’re a cashier at a grocery store or volunteering for free at a pet rescue, there’s always something resume-worthy about it. Find ways to incorporate something quantitative in your resume. Those numbers are the only thing that your future employer is going to remember when scanning through dozens of resumes.
When it comes to entry-level PR resumes, they can look quite similar to each other. This is where having unusual experience is actually an advantage. Not all employers are impressed by someone who has three PR internships in a row. But they may be impressed with someone who has years of customer service experience and makes valuable contributions to their community. Volunteer work, part-time retail jobs and school projects are all great experiences worth putting on your resume.
What you need to be mindful of is how you explain your work experience. Skip writing “Dealt with the cash register” and instead include “Managed transactions upwards of $150.” Take out “Helped my team manage difficult customers” and write “Led and trained a team of five employees.”
Feeling great about the things you’ve accomplished starts with seeing them for the accomplishments they are. And when you put them to paper in an effort to impress an employer, you have greater clarity into what you’re capable of.
Get experience and showcase your work
Job hunting can be tough, especially if you don’t feel prepared to succeed in your future job. If you lack enough experience to land an entry-level position and are struggling to find an internship, you have to find another to get experience. Finding a full-time job is not the only way to gain experience, nor is it the only valuable way.
Do you like baking? Start a cooking blog. Do you love fitness? Start a fitness Instagram and fill it with your fave workouts. Are you proud of your most recent school project? Start an online portfolio and keep all your best projects there.
You want to make your accomplishments easy to access for any employer to look at on their own time, and making a home for them all is the perfect place to start. WordPress and Wix have free-tier websites you can start to build right now.
LinkedIn is also a crucial place to showcase yourself. It doubles as your resume and also allows you to upload portfolio pieces. Having a strong LinkedIn profile also increases your chances of getting an answer when you try to network with industry professionals.
Start conversations with your peers
Remember that no one is a massive success on day one of their careers; it takes years to establish yourself. The best way to squash the feeling you’re not as good as other people is to talk to them. People love to talk about themselves and share their stories with others.
Wondering where to start? Think about your favourite brands and find their employees on LinkedIn or other social media, and send a message asking for 15–30 minutes of their time. If you have enough space in your message, explain why you’d like to chat because it’s possible they receive many messages like yours.
If you do nab some time with them, prepare your questions ahead of time. Here’s what I like to ask:
- How did your early career shape you into the practitioner you are today?
- What were some of your biggest wins? Your biggest mistakes?
- Is there anything you wish you started doing sooner in your career?
- Do you experience self-doubt, and how do you deal with it?
After having these conversations, you will no longer think of these practitioners as infallible beings. Instead, you will understand how they became successful—and how you can also get there. This insight you gain will help you visualize the unique journey ahead of you.
To connect with some of the most well-known PR practitioners in Canada, I suggest you check out the free resource, PR Ramp. (I’m one of the mentors there!)
Reach out to friends and family
There’s a reason why your friends and family spend time with you. There’s a reason why your boss hired you, and your colleagues love working with you. Ask the people around you about what your positive traits are and hear it directly from the people who know you best. Sometimes, these personality traits are things you can’t see in yourself.
An experiment like make-your-own Johari Window can be a helpful way to get this conversation going. Just make your own list of what you think your top traits are, then share with friends and see if they line up with what you perceive as your best traits. You’d be surprised what people see in you that you don’t see in yourself!
There’s no surefire way to be the most confident person in the room, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone, at some point, was where you are. Find value in your accomplishments by giving them the appreciation they deserve.