Home International News Let's make this the year we eradicate imposter syndrome forever

Let’s make this the year we eradicate imposter syndrome forever

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Feelings of inadequacy or hesitation are normal for most people at some stage in their career. But for many professionals – especially women – these feelings are not an occasional problem, they are frequent and severely inhibiting.

A 2019 survey conducted by The Hub Events found that about 90% of women experience imposter syndrome in the workplace – that feeling of not being ‘enough’.

Imposter syndrome can come in many forms – from believing that successes are the result of external factors or luck to feelings of self-doubt and the need to prove yourself.

It is important to note that this is not a exclusively female experience. However, there are a number of findings that suggest that women only apply if they believe they meet 100% of the criteria. Most male professionals do not share that view. Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report found that women are 20% less likely to apply for jobs than their male colleagues, and 16% less likely to apply for a position than men. For many women, seeing a job description they can’t fulfill is a reminder of the way they’re… do not fit the role – rather than a demonstration that there is room for growth, challenges and opportunities.

I’ve seen it happen – women who turn down jobs or withdraw applications and choose to remain in a stagnant role, rather than take a leap into a new career. This hurts careers and limits companies’ efforts to acquire incredible talent and a more balanced, equal workplace.

Tackling the scam syndrome in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility and in everyone’s best interest. Here’s how to do it:

For professionals

1. Be aware, acknowledge and accept that imposter syndrome can affect anyone – even Taylor Swift. So don’t panic.

2. Write it all down. Recording your achievements allows you to focus on them, but also gives you something to look back on during uncertain moments.

3. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t when looking at a job description. If there are areas in which you have no experience, think about your transferable skills.

4. Think about how you speak in interviews. Recognizing the language we use has become a huge part of fighting trust in the workplace, especially during the interview phase. Speak in “I” statements, don’t talk about yourself, and don’t joke about your own abilities.

5. Understand the difference between ‘fit’ and ‘grow’. It’s rare that someone entering a new role can do everything right away. If you can, you are overqualified. Starting a new role is meant to be challenging and build your strengths.

For employers

1. Don’t use feedback only when it can be improved. Many bosses consider feedback only to apply to younger team members, during probation assessments, or when things go wrong. But meaningful performance feedback can give professionals of all stages much-needed clarity and recognition.

2. Create inclusive environments. A foundation where all groups and professionals have the opportunity to gain experience and be leaders in their field will help to create a powerful and empowering workplace.

3. Recognize the role of leadership. The most challenging and essential step is to observe how leadership speaks and behaves around male and female talent. Terms like “smart cookie” are rarely, if ever, used to refer to men, and tasks like organizing birthday cards for staff are usually assigned to a woman in the office. It’s time to critically examine – and conclude – these nuances.

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