Written by Natalie Barresi
Written by Natalie Barresi
Written by Natalie Barresi
What is imposter syndrome and how can you prevent it from hurting your job search
Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that can be defined as feeling like a fraud or doubting your abilities. Finding it hard to accept your own achievements or maybe even thinking that you don’t deserve them.
It also includes thinking that you’re not as capable as others may perceive you to be. This causes anxiety and makes you worried that at any time you will be discovered as a fraud like you don’t deserve what you have.
Imposter syndrome is not a recognized disorder but about 70% of people will experience the feeling at least once in their life.
This syndrome causes feelings of self-doubt and it can make you end up working harder and holding higher standards for yourself, which can lead to increased stress levels or even burnout.
5 ways imposter syndrome can affect your job search
This feeling can not only affect your mental health but it can also harm your job search. From not wanting to show your worth, to lowering your standards, these are just some of the ways that imposter syndrome can affect the job search journey:
1. Hurting your job applications
If you feel like you’re not qualified enough for a job, you may spend less time creating a stronger CV highlighting your achievements and skills. This can prevent you from getting a job interview, making the job search take longer and can eventually increase your imposter syndrome.
You may find an interesting job but as soon as you see one requirement that you don’t have, you won’t apply because you’re convinced that you don’t have any chance of getting the job.
You might not make your CV more unique in a way that will stand out because you’ve already told yourself that you won’t get the job.
2. Saying yes to every opportunity
Many people looking for a job may accept the first offer they get. This might stop you from getting a better offer that could show your true potential. This can also be a case of imposter syndrome taking over.
You might say yes to a lower level position because you don’t think you’re capable enough to work at a higher level.
3. Having negative thoughts
Imposter syndrome will have you thinking that there’s no hope, that you’ll get ghosted and won’t make it past the first round of the recruitment process. However, you’re not the problem, and maybe the job search is taking longer than you thought but expecting the worst is only going to hurt your morale.
This negative energy can hurt your confidence and reduce your enthusiasm and motivation to find a job.
4. Not sharing your accomplishments in job interviews
You might not want to talk about your achievements during the job interview. You might say you don’t have enough experience, even though you have the skills and capabilities to do the job well. This hurts your chance to explain why you’re the best candidate for the role.
5. Not preparing properly
The imposter syndrome can cause you to not want to prepare for the job search because you think that you won’t get the job. You might not update your CV or create a presence on LinkedIn and social media.
You might go to interviews unprepared. All of these factors can prevent you from getting your dream job.
Types of imposter syndrome
Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on the imposter syndrome, wrote a book called The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, where she categorized it into subgroups. These categories can help you figure out how to overcome the syndrome.
The perfectionist: This person has very high standards for themselves and if they fail to meet an objective they worry that they aren’t competent enough. This person might be a micromanager, they might not like to delegate work, and is rarely satisfied with their success because they felt they could’ve done better.
For this type of person, they should learn to celebrate their accomplishments. Be content with imperfections and accept mistakes and learn from them.
The superperson: This person pushes themselves to overwork in order to cover up their insecurities. The superperson is most likely a workaholic, they’re stressed even when they’re not working and they work more than others to try to prove their worth..
These types of people should learn to take constructive criticism in a professional way and not personally. They should seek inner validation and accept themselves as they are.
The natural genius: This person feels they should be able to learn things with ease, if they take long to master something they will feel less worthy. They are a bit like perfectionists, setting the bar high for themselves, but they also judge themselves if they aren’t capable of doing something right on the first try.
This person generally succeeds without much effort but avoids challenges because they don’t want to do something they’ll be bad at.
So they need to realize that everyone is a work in progress and that you shouldn’t feel like less of a person for not meeting your excessively high standard but rather identify specific things you can improve over time.
The soloist: This kind of person has to do everything on their own. They will rarely ask for help. They feel shame if they need assistance.
This person should realize that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help or advice. It doesn’t make you any less of a person for needing it.
The expert: This person bases their value on how much they know or can do. If they are inexperienced in something they will feel like they aren’t enough. They are constantly trying to improve their skills.
The expert should learn to acquire a skill just when they need it or actually want it, instead of just keeping knowledge to seem more worthy. This person can be a great volunteer or mentor. Sharing their knowledge will help others and also helps the expert with their imposter syndrome.
How to overcome imposter syndrome
Treat yourself like you might treat someone else
- If someone you knew was doubting themselves, how would you support them? Use this type of kind language with yourself.
Share your feelings
- Talking about how you feel reduces loneliness. There may be others that are feeling similar and it also allows others to share how they see you.
- Irrational thoughts can fester and grow if you don’t talk about and release them.
Adjust your standards
- You might not get perfect results at all times and you have to be ok with that.
- Reframe failures as opportunities to learn and grow.
- Do things as well as you can and reward yourself for doing it.
- When imposter syndrome feelings arise, recognize those feelings and fears.
- Practice being ok with who you are.
- Accept that imposter syndrome could come up again. This allows you to start to analyze and understand those feelings.
Stop comparing yourself
- Comparing yourself to others will just make you find more faults in yourself.
- Praise others and treat yourself with the same respect. If you find it hard to praise yourself, fake it until you make it. Give yourself compliments for your work, even if you don’t believe it, and over time you’ll start to change your way of thinking.
💡Are you looking for your first job but are worried you don’t have enough experience? Discover the 8 skills you should include in your CV to land your first job. Read more here →