Feeling like an impostor at work, or in job interviews? It’s more common than you think. Here’s how to stop feeling like a fraud and learn to sell yourself!
So firstly, think about why you feel like a fraud. A surprising amount of people suffer from ‘impostor syndrome’ which is feeling like an impostor when you’re actually not and that the whole world is eventually going to find you out. Many successful people have admitted they’re prone to impostor syndrome, including Maya Angelou who said: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
Realising you aren’t an impostor is the first step. You’ve gotten to where you are (and you deserve that promotion or new job) because you worked hard and have the appropriate skills. Here’s some quick ways to tackle your fears when the impostor syndrome rears it’s ugly head…
Know your pros and your cons
You need to hear that negative voice and understand where it’s coming from. Is there a particular skill or characteristic you feel you’re lacking? The best way to tackle ‘negative focuses’ is to know your pros and cons, because it’s more than likely that you are failing to recognise your own accomplishments. The point of the exercise is to list everything you’ve accomplished in your career or current job, whether big or small. Then compare this with your’con’ list and areas where you’ve struggled. You’re likely going to have a lot more pros than you do cons!
Remember, when thinking about your own achievements try not to compare these to the accomplishments of others. This is about you and your career, not about other people. Success generally does not come easy and many successful people have a long list of failures. This is why your con list is useful. Think of it as less a ‘con’ list and more a ‘areas for improvement’ list. You can use this list to create a plan to tackle any areas of weakness with a proactive learning strategy.
Now to focus on your ‘pro’ list. These achievements make great talking points for interviews, when compiling your CV or creating a case for promotion. These are the things that will help you sell yourself. Achievements aren’t like characteristics, they are successes that are reinforced by evidence of hard work. Use these achievements as examples of how you’ve excelled in the past and how you can excel again in the future!
It’s not just about you
When you become fixated on being an impostor, your attitude can become very insular. You’ll be thinking entirely about yourself in a certain situation, how the outcome may affect you, how you will cope under pressure. What you need to focus on instead is what will happen if you remove yourself from a situation such as an interview or work project. Think about whether you are depriving other people of something? Are you letting the team down? What your future could be like if you attend that interview?
Look at the bigger picture and try to refocus your energy on imagining a positive outcome. This is a great time to refer to your ‘pro’ list, which reinforces the positive values you possess.
Take small steps towards tackling big fears. Practice makes perfect, so choose a small task and practice it again and again until you’re not worried about it anymore. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes people get things wrong and being wrong doesn’t make you a fake.
Another way to improve your feeling of worth day to day (and sell yourself to colleagues or an interviewer) is with positive body language. Assuming a position of power—arms and legs uncrossed, spine straight, face relaxed—actually raises testosterone and lowers the stress hormone cortisol in both women and men. This improves your confidence and is crucial for job interviews or promotion reviews as 89% of interviewers said that body language is a deciding factor in success.
It’s also important to be ‘actively present’. Make sure you participate in work discussions, meetings and present suggestions no matter how small. You can also be ‘digitally present’ which means sharing your ideas and expertise in an online community or via social media platforms such as LinkedIn. This again is helpful when looking for a new job as it shows you as proactive and as a voice of authority in your field.
Surround yourself with support
Surround yourself with people who support you, especially at times when you doubt yourself the most. Talk about your doubts with a colleague or friend you trust. As soon as you voice any doubts about your skills then close colleagues who have witnessed your experience will reassure you and give examples of how you’ve succeeded. Another alternative is to find a mentor which can be a huge confidence boost and introduce you to a new set of skills while broadening your professional network.
Having the right resources to support you in your goals is also important. This can be in the form of strategies, digital tools or online learning. If you have a task to complete then create a support structure with the appropriate tools before you start. These things can be added to your CV to show problem-solving skills, professional development and a desire to learn.
Beyond these coping strategies, just remember that when you’re new to a project or job, you always assume that others know more than you do. But after some time you’ll learn that everyone is just getting on with their job and learning day by day. It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s also okay to be confident in your strengths and skill set. You’re not an impostor, now go sell yourself!
Hanover Recruitment is an award-winning bespoke consultancy specialising in tech, digital, sales and contract recruitment. We’re friendly, down to earth and consult with you to fully understand your needs. We use our diverse industry knowledge to match the right candidates to the right company and specialise in even the most niche skills.