Have you ever had the feeling that you are a fraud at work? The feeling that all of your career successes have been based on luck or that someone else has done the majority of the hard work and pretty soon the luck that helped you get the position you’re in will run out? Well, I do. A lot. This delightful feeling is what the experts call ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and it affects most people at some point in their career…even the most confident among us.
So, what is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is the feeling of self-doubt, insecurity and/or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It can affect your sense of self-worth, happiness and professional progression. In actual fact, the more accomplished you are, the more likely you are to feel like an imposter.
Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome are different for everyone. For some it could be the feeling that everyone is watching you, analysing your every move, waiting to criticise, picking needless holes in your hard work. Or it could be the crippling, vivid fear that you are not worthy of the position you are in, the position you have worked your ass off to get to and the feeling that soon someone is going to take it away!
Since I have started my new role, I have been getting this feeling a lot. I am painfully aware that I don’t have as much experience as others within this field and although I have worked my butt off internally for years to show that I can do the job, I still get the feeling that there has been a mistake. A cruel practical joke if you will. It is however comforting to know that I am not alone. This response is likely to hit you when you get increased responsibilities, or once you have reached a personal goal - both of which have happened to me recently.
Gee Fiona, thanks for airing your professional insecurities out for all to see, but what are you trying to say? Well, if I feel like this, and the internet tells me 66% of woman and 56% of men feel like this, then there must be a way for us all to overcome it right?
So, I have scoured the internet to find a way that we can overcome this feeling and celebrate ourselves. Luckily during my research, I found that there were three reoccurring themes. You’re welcome.
Talk about how you are feeling
If you’re feeling slightly out of your depth, it’s probably a good idea to speak to a colleague or your line manager. Let them know how you are feeling and why, they’ll likely list off all the reasons why how you are feeling is total rubbish. They’ll tell you that you have nothing to worry about and offer support on how to help you feel more settled.
Keep a note of your achievements
Recently two Irish men (not a joke) have told me that I should keep a folder of all the successes I have. This could consist of anything as simple as arranging a meeting with a useful contact; but should mainly include ‘good job’ emails from colleagues, glowing reviews and great achievements [in it]. The idea being that when you start doubting your abilities you can look at all your achievements and snap yourself out of your imposter state. It also helps when it comes to review time, that you can show your line manager the reason why they hired you in the first place.
Build a group of supporters (Cheerleaders)
This is quite a popular suggestion across the internet. It is suggested that you build a group of friends, family, mentors and colleagues that can cheer you on and offer career advice and support. These people should be your cheerleaders, celebrating your successes when you aren’t sure if you’ve achieved anything. By including mentors or people you admire into this group you are also putting yourself in a great position to learn from those with more experience but in a way that your abilities shouldn’t feel threatened.
See, the thing people get wrong about recruiters is that all they want to do is get you a new job, when actually they are a great source of career advice. The right recruiters can be cheerleaders too and you should utilise their knowledge to support you in feeling like the superstar you are.
If you are looking for cheerleaders to help you banish your imposter syndrome, why don’t you reach out to a member of our team.
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