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Overcoming Self-Doubt for Career Success a.k.a Imposter Syndrome

As the saying goes; just because you can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Imposter Syndrome is exactly that. If you've ever felt out of place or intimidated in your job, it might be the reason and its potential impact on your career is very real!

But don’t worry, Imposter Syndrome isn’t something you need to see your doctor about. In fact, many people experience it at some point, and when you take the right steps, it can be overcome.

Here at 84 Recruitment, we believe you shouldn’t let imposter syndrome become an obstacle on your road to career success. We sat down with Managing Consultant, Hannah Ealson to discuss the steps she suggests you can take to overcome this mindset.

1. Understanding Imposter Syndrome

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that imposter syndrome means feeling like an imposter in your role or amongst colleagues, there are still a few things you should know.

Hannah explains that the root of imposter syndrome plays a big part in self-doubt. You question your skills and achievements – attributing them to good luck or the help of colleagues rather than yourself.

As a woman in leadership at 84, Hannah had a few things to say around the gendered nature of imposter syndrome.

“There is additional, gendered pressure on women to run a home, go to the gym and take care of their physical health, prepare a nutritious family meal, as well as go to work. That pressure can be overwhelming. Also, we haven’t always seen models of female leadership to show us how it’s done”.

Women are more likely to experience imposter syndrome because of gendered pressures they can’t just leave behind at the office! Don’t get me wrong, men also experience imposter syndrome, and should still be taken seriously. However, men are often slightly better at hiding their experiences.

2. How Imposter Syndrome Can Affect Your Career

Imposter syndrome is not only draining, but it can be hugely detrimental to your career. The irony is that the more you feel like an imposter, the more of an imposter you become.

In Hannah’s experience, putting on an act, a.k.a. the famous fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy, won’t do you much good in the long run. Your colleagues are likely to notice disingenuous behaviour, which in turn, damages your credibility and trust!


3. Signs You're Experiencing Imposter Syndrome

Identifying the symptoms can be challenging but important for overcoming it. Ask yourself specific self-reflection questions to gauge if you're experiencing it.

Hannah helped curate some self-reflection questions, to identify whether you might be experiencing the symptoms of imposter syndrome:

  • Are you consistently worried to pull the trigger when making professional decisions?

  • Do you doubt your competence to do certain tasks?

  • Do you attribute your successes to good luck or other external factors?

  • Do you feel you’ve ‘tricked’ your way into certain roles, promotions, or assignments?

  • Do you lack role models you can relate to in your industry or workplace?

4. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Telling yourself to ‘just get over it’, isn’t likely to do the trick. Instead, reframe this as an opportunity to seek out mentors. Hannah suggests finding yourself a range of mentors, formal and informal to help guide you along your journey to career growth and success! The likelihood is your mentor has experienced self-doubt themselves. They can help validate your feelings of self-doubt, affirm your successes and belonging.


5. Stairs To Competency

When overcoming imposter syndrome, another tool in Hannah’s toolbox is ‘The Stairs of Competency’.

Use this tool to manage expectations of proficiency in your role, embracing each phase of your learning journey:

  • The first stair is Unconsciously Unskilled – you don’t know what you don’t know. In other words, you are blissfully ignorant of how much learning is ahead of you.

  • The second stair is Consciously Unskilled – you’ve been in your role long enough to notice what others are doing and can map out the skills you need to learn.

  • The third stair is Consciously Skilled - you’ve been around the block enough times to know what you’re doing but you still need to focus while you’re doing it.

  • Finally, the fourth stair is Unconsciously Skilled – your role and your skills are second nature. Just like breathing, eating, and walking, you don’t think too hard when applying your skillset.

This is a normal progression and should be expected! If you were at the final step and had achieved mastery from the start of your role - it's going to lack challenge and get boring pretty quick. Remember, you are not an imposter for lacking certain skills, you’re just climbing the stairs and don’t be afraid to take ownership of the skills you know and have mastered!

It's time to own your success

Many people apply for roles without meeting 100% of the criteria, and in fact, employers might prefer a candidate who is hungry to learn and grow.

Don't let Imposter Syndrome hold you back in your career! Reframe your mindset, seek support, so you can thrive professionally.

If you need career advice, contact our team at 84 Recruitment, where our industry experts can guide you towards success and can help align you on your best career path!