Career

Psychology

Mandy Kloppers

6 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome When Starting a New Job

Taking the first dive into a new career feels exhilarating and intimidating. Suddenly, you’re facing the ultimate test to see if the experience and education you received prepared you adequately. Countless feelings can surface from this experience, from frustration to low self-confidence, from passion to triumph. 

Most suffer from imposter syndrome and feel like a fraud in their expertise. Find out the best ways to solidify consistently positive emotions when in a new job and own up to your excellence with continued learning and professional development.

 

1. Quiet the Source

Imposter syndrome has countless catalysts, including the following:

 

  • Perfectionist personality
  • Feeling lucky instead of like you earned the job
  • Noticing knowledge gaps or inadequacies in your performance from comparing yourself to co-workers
  • Being too removed from formal education and feeling your knowledge is waning
  • Inconsistency with praise, constructive criticism and aggressive feedback

 

There are many related reasons, but the goal is to find the root cause of your imposter syndrome by noticing what work activities trigger the feeling. Is it conversations with co-workers or each time you have a one-on-one with your boss? Dig deep to uncover why the feelings fester. It’ll be the first step to finding strategies to quiet them, so they can stop impacting your daily work.

 

2. Befriend a Mentor

Insecurities are one of the leading causes behind imposter syndrome, and since you’re not in school anymore, there aren’t professors to visit during office hours for advice. Befriend colleagues to find an experienced, kind mentor that can guide you through these complex feelings. 

A quality company will help newcomers in the community succeed in the new setting, so accept that support because wisdom comes through experience. Mentors can also explain how to compensate and grow for areas of work you feel less comfortable with. Imposter syndrome shouldn’t last in the workspace when you find someone to improve the topics where you have the least confidence.

 

3. Accept Rationale

You obtained a new job because you earned it. You had a strong resume and superior interview skills, and the company saw qualities in you that beat the other candidates. These realizations are facts — not opinions. Accepting the rationale in the situation can provide solace when imposter syndrome comes up because nothing fights uncertainty more than concrete evidence. 

Looking back at the source of your imposter syndrome, you can prove how you’ve overcome similar challenges. Are you afraid of being in a new social environment with unfamiliar cliques? Recall how you overcame that in college and made lifelong friends and professional partnerships. Are you concerned with falling below expectations on a project? Remember a time in school when you didn’t get as high of a grade, but that provided an opportunity for growth.

 

4. Source Your Own Validation

Low self-confidence is another significant contributor to imposter syndrome because it shields your past accomplishments. You must recall and track your wins to mitigate these effects actively. If you prove to yourself that you’ve overcome hardship and received praise for doing your job well, you know it’s possible for the future. Here are some other ways to increase self-esteem and self-motivation to lessen the severity of imposter syndrome at a new job:

 

  • Create a timeline that shows how you’ve grown in specific skills.
  • Put visual reminders, like sticky notes, around your desk that exude kindness.
  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Maintain expectations because you will not do everything right entering a new job — know there will be areas of improvement frequently.
  • Allow yourself to experience emotional management, even at work. During a bout of imposter syndrome, go to the break room for a snack or sit at your desk for a few minutes to recenter yourself with breathwork.
  • Acknowledge feelings as separate from yourself. For example, say, “I feel anxious” instead of “I am anxious.”

 

These will help you source your validation so emotions and negative influences don’t hinder progress.

 

5. Embrace Forever Learning

What felt better in school than receiving high marks on a challenging test or essay? You can recreate those motivational moments of external validation by being a perpetual student. You can still read, attend seminars, watch videos and ask questions from experts outside formal education. 

Schools can’t predict how your sector will evolve or teach you everything about the industry. Embrace a continuing education mindset to ensure you stay current on trends and build upon your foundational knowledge. There are potentially infinite niches to explore within every industry. Surfing through information with genuine curiosity will be your largest asset in overcoming imposter syndrome because you’ll never feel inadequate intellectually.

 

6. Find Thrill Outside the Comfort Zone

A new job is an unknown environment that incites countless emotions on top of imposter syndrome. Fight-or-flight responses make the anxious mind resort to survival tactics, but the beauty lies within humanity’s ability to champion unfamiliar situations. At one point, entering a new school was strange, and then you walked the halls on autopilot. 

Every time you entered an area outside of your comfort zone, professional or not, large or small, you walked out knowing more about the world and yourself. Treat this new job the same way because, eventually, you will walk into that office like a second home. There is excitement in trying new things, and leaning into that thrill will quell the fear imposter syndrome brings.

 

Eliminating Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace

Imposter syndrome at a new job is common, and every employee in your building experienced the same feelings when they clocked in for the first time. Everyone is in the same boat, and there is camaraderie in that. These tactics may not permanently destroy imposter syndrome, but they can mitigate new job anxiety until you stop thinking of your position as new. Eventually, you will emit confidence and expertise as a thought leader in your field.