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Do you suffer from imposter syndrome?

Are you confident of your abilities at work, or do you always doubt yourself and worry that you'll be 'found out'? Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper offer advice on how to tackle your confidence career gremlins

by Katherine Weir

Getting the job you really want, or getting a promotion at work, is something that many of us dream about. It can boost confidence, provide motivation and even give you a whole new perspective on life. However, what happens when you start to doubt your abilities at work, and even believe that you’re not worthy of doing the job you were hired for?

Recent research by career coaches at Amazing If has shown that almost a third of millennials in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome at work, also known as fear of being found out, or FOBFO. These clearly capable young professionals have a fear of being exposed as a fraud, which is rooted in the belief that they are not good enough.

Fear of being found out affects men and women equally and has been found to exist across the UK, although it is more common in London, where the job stakes are much higher. The syndrome is said to be a result of low self-esteem and negative thoughts about oneself, combined with a level of success at work that does not match with the individual’s beliefs about their own abilities. In an age where social media presents a seemingly endless array of overachievers, it is not hard to see how this problem has developed.

An aspect of imposter syndrome discovered by the study was confidence gremlins, which manifest in fears of being put on the spot and presenting in front of an audience. An incredible 12 million millennials admitted to suffering from such gremlins, with 52% of all those studied having a fear of being asked questions on the spot by their superiors. Interestingly, 40% of women in the study reported being intimidated by senior staff, versus only 22% of men.

Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper, the co-founders of Amazing If, offer advice to millennials on how to be more confident and resilient at work. Helen says, “Being more confident can feel like a daunting task and our advice is to focus on small, frequent actions that will build your confidence step by step. It’s also always useful to share your confidence gremlin and action plan with someone supportive. Making a specific commitment and sharing it ‘out loud’ means you’ll substantially increase the likelihood that you’ll do anything about it, and ultimately help yourself have a happier career.”

Whether you suffer from imposter syndrome at work or simply feel like you could progress more in your confidence levels, paying attention to how you react to challenging situations in your work place will help you to grow and develop your career.

Photograph: iStock