How to stop imposter syndrome from derailing your career

Even the most senior people can experience imposter syndrome.

Even the most senior people can experience imposter syndrome. Photo: Getty

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone in the workplace, even the most senior people in an organisation.

In fact, about half of us – 51 per cent of women and 47 per cent of men – experience imposter syndrome at some point in our careers.

Feeling like a fraud at work sometimes can seriously affect your confidence and ability to do your job, no matter how accomplished you really are.

Feelings of self-doubt manifest in various ways, but commonly result in second-guessing decisions you would normally make with ease, comparing yourself unfavourably to others and telling yourself you’re simply not good enough for the job.

Even high-flyers experience imposter syndrome, but SEEK’s resident psychologist Sabina Read said there are ways to get it under control.

“Sometimes it’s people who have experienced great success who feel impacted even more by the voices in our heads telling us we arrived here by some stroke of luck or that others know more than we do,” she said.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is likely to strike at times when we are just about to embark on an activity that pushes us outside of our comfort zone. Photo: Getty

“To help mitigate the noise of impostor syndrome, start by talking to others to help normalise the experience. Ask mentors or others you respect when, not if, they’ve had doubts over their careers or during the job hunting process.

“Minimise the emphasis on a job title and role, and instead focus on the skills and contributions that have impacted people in meaningful ways, no matter how small they may appear.

“And lastly, try switching a focus on achievement for one that values learning and growth instead.”

Recognising the effects of imposter syndrome early gives you the best chance of reducing the impacts that could put your performance at risk.

It commonly hits when you take on a new or challenging role, said Leah Lambart, career and interview coach.

“Imposter syndrome is likely to strike at times when we are just about to embark on an activity that pushes us outside of our comfort zone, such as pitching for a new project, speaking to a new audience, applying for a new job, interviewing for a more senior role, asking for a pay rise or approaching a potential employer about a job opportunity,” she said.

“At times like these, imposter syndrome may rear its ugly head and tell us that we are ‘not good enough’, ‘not skilled enough’ or ‘not important enough’. As a result, we may not go through with the activity or will make an excuse to avoid the situation altogether.”

Knowing what imposter syndrome is and recognising it quickly can help you avoid missing out on opportunities and advancing your career.

Confidence and self-esteem often takes years to build up, so don’t let them slip through your fingers.

You’ve got more skills than you know. Visit SEEK Career Advice to discover your hidden talents today and put your skills to work.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually (June 2021).

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