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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at Work

For many candidates, looking for a new career can be a long, tiring journey. From unsuccessful applications to being ghosted, it can be easy to have your confidence knocked. This sense of inadequacy and insecurity can continue in the workplace, causing employees to feel like frauds in their roles. 

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I don’t belong here” or “I’m not good enough for this job”? What you’re experiencing is called imposter syndrome. It’s a toxic train of thoughts that can seriously impact your growth, self-worth and future success.  

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

By now, you’ve probably heard of the term “imposter syndrome” across LinkedIn, but what exactly does it mean? Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern of self-doubt or incompetence where you feel you’ve only done well due to luck. This was first reported in 1978 by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, who investigated low feelings of self-worth in high-achieving women. 

Imposter syndrome can impact you in a variety of ways. From downplaying your work accomplishments to being unable to accept praise from others. A recent study found that 62% of workers worldwide reported experiencing imposter syndrome – for both recruits and senior team members (9,615 people surveyed).  

Characteristics of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can impact everyone, and while many brush it off as a momentary weakness, there are common characteristics that will impact you in the long run. These include:

  • Poor self-confidence
  • Perfectionism
  • Experience burnout, depression or anxiety (or all) 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Strong fear of failure
  • Self-doubt about your skills and accomplishments
  • Hold impossibly high expectations 
  • Base your success on “luck” rather than your hard work
  • Struggle to accept praise
  • Avoid opportunities for growth and progression

Britons experience many of these characteristics, with 66% having difficulty taking praise from others and 58% having high expectations of themselves. Next time you talk about yourself and your achievements, pay attention to what you say. You may be struggling more than you think.   

The 5 Types of Imposters

In Dr Valerie Young’s book, “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women”, five types of imposter syndrome were identified. 

  1. The Perfectionist focuses on perfecting how something should be done and set incredibly high expectations for themselves. Even if one small mistake is made, a perfectionist will deem themself a failure.
  2. The Expert wants to know everything before they can start a project or apply for a job. If they don’t meet all the vacancy requirements, they won’t apply and may avoid speaking in a meeting as they fear they’ll look stupid.
  3. The Soloist works independently, and if they ask for support on a task, they will see themselves as a failure or fraud.
  4. The Natural Genius measures their proficiency by speed and effort. For example, you may deem yourself a failure for not succeeding with a new subject or skill on the first attempt.
  5. The Superhuman overworks and pushes themselves to succeed so they are not considered an imposter. You may want to excel in all areas of life, including personal. 

How to Deal With Low Self-Worth and Doubt

Whether you’re a soloist or perfectionist, any imposter syndrome can be hard to manage at work. At Morris Sinclair, we drive our candidates to succeed by helping them be their best selves and ultimately land a career in IT or tech. 

Try to acknowledge your negative thoughts and focus on the facts. Your self-doubt and fear of failure and being a fraud do not stem from reality. Reflect on what you have actually achieved, acknowledge your feelings and let go. Reframing your thoughts, speaking to a mentor and sharing your feelings are other helpful ways to tackle imposter syndrome. 

Morris Sinclair are expert IT and tech recruiters who support candidates throughout the recruitment process, helping them to overcome the challenges of imposter syndrome. Whether you are looking for a new team member or the next step in your career, we’re here to help. Contact us to find out more.

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