A third of the UK adults could be coming into work every day dreading they will be ‘found out’. Is that you? 

According to a recent Randstad poll*, a third of job seekers confessed to suffering from imposter syndrome with 24% saying that they change jobs so frequently they go undetected in the workplace.Although, not everyone suffers from self-doubt at work, as the Randstad poll revealed 4 out of 10 job seekers do not know what imposter syndrome is. 

The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. It is summarised as a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” despite external evidence of their competence. Workers exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. 

do I have imposter syndrome?

  • Do you accuse yourself of “not being cut out” for your job and unable to sleep for days if you miss one of your KPI’s?
  • Do you feel that despite your numerous degrees and achievements you haven’t truly earned your title?
  • Does your confidence tumble when you’re faced with a setback?

If you answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the above you could be suffering from imposter syndrome. 

different types of imposter syndrome.

Did you know that there are five different types of imposter syndrome? According to Dr Valierie Young these are: 

  1. Perfectionist
  2. The Superwoman/man
  3. The Natural Genius
  4. The Rugged Individualist
  5. The Expert

Take this short test to find out more and discover what type of imposter you are. 

who suffers from imposter syndrome?

Many people develop imposter syndrome throughout their careers and often define it by the feeling that deep down they feel like frauds and their accomplishments are the result of luck rather than skill. From the millennial who received too much praise at home, and now feels they’ll be ‘found out’ in the real world, to the remote worker who lacks the connection with their colleagues and doubts if their work is any good, imposter syndrome is a real thing. 

what age group are more prone to imposter syndrome?

Millennials, or GenY, (ages 23 to 39) are thought to be most susceptible to imposter syndrome, not only because of technological advancements within their lifetime, societal pressures and social media comparisons, but also largely because of their parents. 

According to TIME magazine, millennial’s report feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and also judged as parents more than the two preceding generations. Social media fuels this push for social validation, especially for millennial parents who are accustomed to documenting every success and achievement. Nearly 90 percent of millennial are social media users, compared with 76 per cent of the previous generation (Gen X), and 59 per cent of the generation before that (the Baby Boomers).

Whether it’s societal pressures or upbringing, if you have imposter syndrome you’re in good company: Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge are just some of the celebrities who have referred to this form of self doubt. According to US psychologist  Dr Mann the condition is more common amongst high achievers. 

Sheryl Sandberg wrote about her experience in her book ‘Lean In’:

“Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. This phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt has a name — the impostor syndrome. Both men and women are susceptible to the impostor syndrome, but women tend to experience it more intensely and be more limited by it.” 

what jobs are prone to imposter syndrome?

Remote workers are more at risk of imposter syndrome because unlike those who are in a workplace, the possibilities for positive feedback are narrower. Lacking the face-to-face interaction, can give rise to feelings of self-doubt and wondering if your work is any good. 

Female entrepreneurship is also at risk of imposter syndrome as it can be isolating, lacking in structure and highly stressful where insecurities can run gamut.  In 2009, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring, a survey of 30,000 adults in the UK had found that fear of failure had risen amongst women. In particular women working in male-dominated fields (science and technology, for example) and those who work in roles traditionally associated with men, such as any leadership roles are also thought to be vulnerable to IS. 

top tips on how to manage imposter syndrome. 

A mild form of imposter syndrome can be a good thing, spurring us to work harder and achieve more. However, here’s three tips to remedy imposter syndrome:

  1. ‘Remember be yourself everyone else is taken’ Oscar Wilde. Don't force yourself to be something that you are not. Be your authentic self with your own personality and way of working. 
  2. Keep track of your strengths and accomplishments. List all of the skills and accomplishments that make you uniquely qualified for your job, so it’s at the top of your mind when you’re having a bad day. 
  3. Build your knowledge bank. Overcoming imposter syndrome won't happen overnight, but there are concrete ways you can prevent it from sabotaging you. The more you learn about your job and your industry, and the more you focus on your professional development, the more power you have at the ready.  

Mental health and wellbeing is important. For support and advice: https://www.mind.org.uk/

If you feel like you'r suffering from imposter syndrome it could be time to find a new role where you'll feel more comfortable.

Explore the thousands of available roles on randstad.co.uk today. 

*Do you, or have you ever, suffered from imposter syndrome?

  • What's imposter syndrome? (589 votes, 40%)
  • Absolutely not (362 votes, 25%)
  • Yes, but I hide it well (146 votes, 11%)
  • Yes, so much so I change jobs frequently (342 votes, 24%)

(survey conducted in June 2019 by Randstad recruitment)