Brace yourself: I’m about to advocate a controversial position that I might live to regret later, if all of my clients really take it to heart! I can’t help it, however. After observing thousands of people as they venture out into the job market, and experience dramatically different degrees of success, I’ve had to admit that one particular personality trait — cockiness — seems to be strongly correlated with the ability to land quality, high-paying job offers in the current marketplace.
We all know the type. Some of us may already, in fact, be the type. The kind of person I’m talking about is the individual who seems a little too sure of themselves, a little too confident in their capabilities, and who might be pursuing titles and compensation levels that seem a little unrealistic in terms of their background, education, and credentials. And yet, as much as we might wish otherwise, or tell ourselves that these people are in for a rude awakening, the truth (from my perspective, at least) is that such people often end up getting exactly what they ask for out in the job market!
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a big difference between cockiness and arrogance. If you push the self-confidence thing too far, to the point that you are out of touch with reality — or oblivious to the needs of those around you — the marketing edge suddenly evaporates. But those people who can walk this line effectively seem to have a hypnotic effect on recruiters and employers. In all probability, this is just one more spin on the psychological “we tend to want what we can’t have” principle where employers feel that if somebody stands up to them, and seems willing to walk away, then darn it — they must somehow be more qualified than those other candidates we’ve talked with who seem so nice, passive, respectful, and polite! Additionally, a little cockiness might be a sign that people have the stockpile of self-assurance needed to take control of complex projects, challenges, and situations — and to fearlessly plow through the multiple barriers and obstacles that today’s business world tends to throw at organizations.
So in terms of your own effectiveness, ask yourself whether your “cockiness quotient” might need a bit of an upgrade. Should you be more aggressive in the interview process and push back with tougher questions? Should you promise you can solve certain problems, within certain timeframes, even if you can’t yet be 100% sure you can deliver the goods? Should you ask for more money than the employer seems initially willing to pay, look them straight in the eye, and tell them you’ll be worth every penny of this higher salary — and more? Food for thought, at the very least. As an impartial observer of this process, however, I promise you one thing: confidence usually sells!