3% of the workforce quit in September 2021; 73% of the workforce is actively thinking about quitting. The Great Resignation is still in full force, yet discussions are still centered on why these workers are quitting and how employers are left scrambling. But what about what happens to employees after they decide to resign and get a new job?
82% of people who quit and start a new job admit to feeling imposter syndrome within their first few weeks. That’s a lot of new employees who are all experiencing one doubtful, potentially career-ruining symptom.
Imposter syndrome encompasses feelings of self-doubt and fraudulence. Someone experiencing imposter syndrome may:
When we have imposter syndrome, we constantly worry that someone’s made a mistake in choosing us to do our job, a task or a project. We’re convinced we’re not the right person to get the job done. We craft a story that we are not enough.
Sometimes, imposter syndrome makes it difficult to complete the tasks we want to finish. Other times, we work so hard to overcome our self-doubt that we overwork ourselves to the point of burnout. Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in different ways, and everyone can experience the symptom uniquely. Yet there is a universality in imposter syndrome; it affects people of various career backgrounds, experiences, ages, races, genders and abilities.
“It turns out imposter syndrome is as common as a cold. Anyone can catch it, it can strike at any time. But, you can also get over it,” Dona Sakar says in her Tedx Talk “The Imposter Syndrome Banishing Spell.”
Imposter syndrome can be a scary and even alarming emotion to work through, especially when you’re up against competing deadlines or projects. Start by understanding exactly what you’re feeling and labeling what you’re going through. Acknowledging this emotion will help you know what’s wrong and make it easier to find a solution.
When we get imposter syndrome, it’s hard to focus on what we’re able to do—because we’re only thinking about all the things we can’t do. Start by listing out your qualifications, just as you likely did while you were applying for the role. Focus on your demonstrated strengths and skills; look back on positive feedback you’ve received from previous managers and teammates. Remind yourself of what you have going for you.
While imposter syndrome already amplifies our worries about qualifications, it’s important to sit down and think about what you realistically aren’t qualified to do. Move away from negative self-talk and focus on the practical and technical skills you don’t have. You’ll find the list of things you can’t do for this specific role or project is actually a lot smaller than you thought.
Be wary of telling yourself you don’t have skills when you don’t have the exact experience; for example, you may say you aren’t qualified to lead a company-wide presentation, but you have excellent communication skills and lead smaller meetings often. Just because you don’t have experience doing a specific task doesn’t mean you’re completely unqualified to do it—and succeed at it.
Imposter syndrome isn’t just something we feel internally; it can have external effects on our career opportunities. If we let imposter syndrome stop us from taking on a project or trying something new, we can miss out on incredible career-boosting opportunities—or even just opportunities to make mistakes, learn and grow.
Even if it feels like you need to be 100% all of the time, or have all of the answers, the reality is that you can’t—and you won’t—be able to always live up to perfection. That’s okay! Learn to lean on others for support and ask for their expertise when you actually need it. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and shows your coworkers that you value their unique perspective and skills.
Imposter syndrome makes us think that we’re bound to mess up and make career-ruining mistakes. Yes, we are bound to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not meant to be in this role or do this project. Instead, admit where you went wrong and work to make it right. Mistakes don’t reflect our internal value or character—it’s what we do after we make a mistake that shows how great of a worker and person we really are.