A Head of Esteem

Opportunity Knocks? “I see this as an opportunity,” he said.

“This is not a problem but a challenge,” she declared.

Pretty typical observations people make when telling me how they feel about their redundancy. Their body language may tell me something different and I, or even worse a potential employer, may find these claims difficult to believe. I would also worry about somebody who only sees opportunities when they are painted into the corner.eye reflection

How positive do you want to get? No doubt these individuals have taken the view, or been advised, that it is best to take a positive approach to their situation. Recent times have seen a drive towards developing self-esteem and focussing on our strengths, and thereby viewing everything as an opportunity. It is perhaps difficult to disagree with this… but it isn’t working if you feel one thing yet say another.

Neck on the block: I have to admit to discomfort with pumping oneself up to extremes. Constantly telling yourself how wonderful you are is not a sensible way of repairing a damaged ego. Self-regard is a more attractive option. What’s the difference?

Self-esteem can often lead people to telling themselves how great they are while leaving them blind to their weaknesses. We all, of course, have weaknesses.

Self-regard or self worth is a case of valuing ourselves as we are and thus recognizing and being grateful for our strengths while at the same time being aware of, and trying to do something about, our weaknesses.

In an interview you are selling a product – yourself. Blind self-esteem simply does not help – no matter how great that you believe you are, what practical benefit do you offer the employer? Somebody who has a sensible level of self-regard is comfortable in their own skin, can give behavioural evidence of their strengths, comfortably discuss their weaknesses, and can explain how they are addressing their own improvement is more likely to be attractive in an interview situation. Take self-regard/self awareness to your next interview.

An individual I recently worked with on outplacement spent a lot of time talking to family, friends, and former colleagues about how others perceived him. Despite the worry of losing his job, his self-regard increased as people demonstrated a warm appreciation of his abilities… and gave constructive counselling on how he could improve on his weaknesses. When asked how you feel about redundancy is it not best to be honest? If you feel worried or stressed say so… but don’t dwell on it either. Don’t focus on why things have happened but on how you are going to resolve those circumstances for yourself. Take your whole self, warts and all, to the interview… and leave the pumped-up hard-sales pitch at home.


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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