What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Deal With it?

Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon experienced by most individuals in the workforce in the 21st Century. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, American Psychologists, coined this term in 1978. They described it as “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” It refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

According to Valerie Young, there are five types of Imposter Syndrome that you can suffer from. These come in the forms of;

  • The Perfectionist

    A perfectionist will frequently set an excessively high goal for themselves and then when they fail to achieve that, they experience self-doubt, shame and the feeling that what they did achieve means nothing, despite the fact that they could have been extremely close to their goal. Something that you need to do to help with this is to own the achievements that you have made and make sure to celebrate them. This will help you recognise your success and grow your self-confidence.

  • The Expert  

    If you fall into this category, you may feel that you do not deserve the role that you are working in and have a deep fear of being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable. Or you may feel that you need to know every piece of information possible before you start a project/meet 100% of requirements before you apply for a new job and this can be holding you back.

  • The Natural Genius 

    This is someone who judges their success based on their abilities and not the effort that they put in to making something happen. If they have to work hard at something or expend extra energy, they feel that it is something they are bad at. Just like perfectionists, they have set the bar extremely high for themselves and expect to get things right on the first try.

  • The Soloists   

    If you feel like asking for help makes you a fraud, then you fall into this category of imposter syndrome. While it is OK to work independently, it is also necessary to work alongside others from time to time and ask for help when you need it. If you do not speak out about your troubles, this can have a negative impact on your mental health and stress levels, so if you notice that you are wary to ask others for their assistance, maybe keep this in check and reach out when you are in need.

  • The Superman/Superwoman    

    You work, and work, and work but why? To prove that you are not an imposter and deserve to be in the role that you are in as much as your co-workers. This is known as the Superman/Superwoman and can take a negative toll on your mental health and on your relationships with colleagues.

Suffering from Imposter Syndrome can have a detrimental impact when you are searching for a new role as described above in the expert section. You may not apply to a role because you do not fit the entire job specification when in reality, you have enough experience that you could excel at the job (you could also be suffering due to the Confidence Gap).  This is one of the reasons why working with a recruitment consultant when looking for a new role can really be of benefit to you. The consultant will be able to recognise the experience that you have from your CV and speaking with you and so will be able to reassure you and encourage you to apply to roles that you could be great in but wouldn’t apply for yourself.

There is also the risk that Imposter Syndrome may sink in at a later date, when you are already in your new role, and you may feel that you do not deserve to be there unlike your co-workers and all of those working around you. When these feelings strike, just remember, you can reach out to your recruiter and they can help you talk through these feelings and help you recognise the relevant experience that you have when you are unable to see it yourself.

Make sure, whatever you do, to share your feelings with someone close to you so that you are not overwhelmed. You are not the only person who feels like they are an imposter in their role – at a recent conference, we were asked to stand by the speaker, Tiffany De Silva, if we felt we were an imposter in our roles, and the entire room stood up.  This syndrome causes you to doubt your achievements, so that no matter how much progress that you make, you still feel like you don’t deserve your accomplishments. Challenge these negative thoughts and remember that you got to where you are today through your own hard work.

If you are looking for a role in Accounting, Finance or Fund Administration, make sure to reach out to a member of our team on 016560505 or send in your CV.

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