You’ve been on the job market for a while now, which can be mentally and emotionally draining. And as your search drags on and the days go by, you may not feel it happening, but your perception of your own skills and your definition of “competence” may be subject to flexibility and change. On good days you may overestimate your abilities and aim too high (which rarely causes problems). But on bad days, you may find yourself reading through a posting that describes your dream job and finding that, oddly, the more the job resembles your ideal, the less confident you are about submitting an application. Why does this happen? And does it happen to everyone?
Imposter Syndrome: Keep it from Holding You Back
“Imposter syndrome” is a distorted understanding of our own skills and a misperception of where we stand when measured against others in our field. If you’ve ever secretly felt that you were under-qualified for your position or that you somehow arrived where you are due to accident or luck instead of your own abilities, this distorted perception may have been getting the best of you.
While some experience chronic imposter syndrome while employed, this misperception can also be very harmful to job seekers, since it prevents them from applying for the jobs they really want. What’s worse, imposter syndrome can keep some job seekers submitting applications far below their level, and constant rejections can exacerbate the issue, even if those rejections are due to over-qualification.
Does Everyone Suffer From Imposter Syndrome?
Not really. There’s a difference between having a momentary bout of low self-confidence and living in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. If you spend your workdays waiting for the moment that the axe falls and this exposure takes place, you may have a problem. Likewise, a tendency to aim too low while on the job market and a reluctance to redirect your efforts may indicate the presence of imposter syndrome. You aren’t alone, but you still may benefit from getting help, avoiding trigger scenarios, and controlling the issue before it controls you.
Recognize that some situations are more inclined to bring on fraudulent feelings, and try to avoid those situations. Some jobs can also make employees feel this way. Especially those in which employees are isolated, are pushed to be intensely competitive, or are not provided with appropriate mentors and training.
If you know that imposter syndrome is a problem for you, think carefully before accepting a job that fits this description, and ask questions during the interview about mentoring opportunities, competition, isolation, and company definitions of success. If these definitions don’t match yours, think twice before pursuing the position.
A little outside guidance can also help. If you think you may be dealing with imposter syndrome and you need some help adjusting your perception, reach out to the Little Rock staffing and employment experts at CSS. We can help you find and keep the job that’s right for you.