If you’ve struggled with anxiety or fear of failure at work, you’re not alone. Employees often deal with feelings that they may not be qualified enough for a position or that they lack the ability to perform as well as their peers. There is a term for this feeling of not being good enough or qualified enough: the imposter syndrome.
According to the LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report, women apply to 20 percent fewer jobs than men. And this behavior is also impacted by the syndrome, based on the report findings: “Women tend to screen themselves out of the conversation and end up applying to fewer jobs than men.“
Thus, let’s learn more about the imposter syndrome, understand how it can affect you in the workplace, how to overcome it and become more confident.
What’s the imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome may present itself in a variety of ways. There are several characteristics that indicate you may be experiencing it. Jessica Bennet, author of Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace explains a few common symptoms of imposter syndrome:
Feeling like you are going to fail: If every work project leaves you with a sense of dread or impending doom, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. This can manifest as not finishing the project or asking others to step in when you don’t feel comfortable performing the task.
Devaluing your own worth: If you constantly put yourself down—you may refer to your work as sloppy or your skills as lacking or even accept a lower salary out of a fear that you would be refused a higher one—you may be struggling from the imposter syndrome.
Underestimating your experience: Even if you’ve earned a degree or certification in your field and have significant experience, you may not feel that you’ve accomplished enough to be successful in a position. In this situation, you’ll likely apply for jobs that are below your level of expertise.
Who is affected?
Anyone can suffer from imposter syndrome. However, a study published in Business Horizons indicated that women and minorities are more likely to suffer from imposter fears, especially if they’re in an entrepreneurial role.
However, that doesn’t mean that men can’t have imposter syndrome. In fact, Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider correspondent, says that men do experience it, they’re just less likely to talk about it.
How can you overcome it?
If the signs mentioned above sound familiar, you may be struggling with imposter syndrome. It’s important to know that you can shift out of that and build confidence with a little bit of work. If you leave this anxiety unchecked, you could derail or delay your career potential and get stuck accepting salaries that are well below your earnings potential.
Luckily, you don’t have to make any significant changes to shift these feelings. Instead, you can use a few simple strategies to tap into your confidence and let go of that imposter syndrome a little at a time.
Make a brag file
Keep a list of successes, day to day, week to week and even month to month. Save them to a drive that you can access when you feel the imposter syndrome creeps in to remind you that you are successful and worthy.
Set goals you can achieve
It’s important to set yourself up for success by choosing goals that push you but are also realistic.
For example, if you want to get a raise at your end of year review, set small goals and milestones that will get you there. Set up a meeting with your manager to find out what you need to do to earn it and then focus on taking small steps throughout the year to get there.
Make time for communication and also to network. You may struggle to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know but being around other confident people in your field can help you feel more confident too. Not to mention, it will remind you of how much you know as you talk about your experience and share your knowledge.
Overcome the imposter syndrome at work
At the heart of overcoming imposter syndrome is becoming comfortable with yourself.
Once you begin to recognize your own skills and talents for what they are, you’ll begin to conquer your confidence issues. It may take some time, but each step you take will bring results.