Overcome Imposter Syndrome

In a recent post, I shared my top tips and tricks for negotiating a raise for 2018. One of the top things holding women back from earning their full potential or getting that next promotion is, ourselves!  Women are more likely to suffer from something called “imposter syndrome”.

Imposter syndrome is the fear that we aren’t qualified for the job or tasks given to us. That we might be “found out” or exposed as a fraud. It’s one of the oldest fears we often develop as children, but all grown up, that we don’t belong. While men can certainly suffer from imposter syndrome, women are more likely to not only have it, but feel it to a deeper degree. In a study documented in the aforementioned article, when given the prompt “[what’s] your general perception of Am I good in science? shapes your impression of something that should be separate: Did I get this question right?,” Women rated themselves more negatively than the men did on scientific ability. On average, women ranked themselves 14-25% lower than their male counterparts did, even though their actual performance was almost the exact same.  

How does this affect us more generally?  Because of this lack of confidence and feeling of fraud, women are less likely to raise their hands for promotional opportunities as frequently, or as quickly, as their male counterparts. For example, while a mid-level male manager might apply for a promotion after a year in his current position, a woman with the same qualifications may wait 6 months longer to apply for the same position (or even wait until a manager encourages them) solely because they PERCEIVE themselves to be less worthy or ready for the opportunity.

While it’s entirely normal to feel this way, there are some things that you can do to overcome imposter syndrome and crack that glass ceiling.  First, acknowledge that you are not alone. As you can see from these studies and articles (which are just a few of many), YOU are likely not the issue, but rather it’s a systematic emotion that has been ingrained in us since we were young girls. Often, just knowing that your problem isn’t unique to you can help you start to think objectively and give you a perspective to push through.

 Whose got imposter syndrome? Not this #badassbosslady! 

Whose got imposter syndrome? Not this #badassbosslady! 

Second, set up a concrete action plan to achieve a goal you are working towards. Let’s say you have a 10 point action plan to get to your next promotion, start documenting what you’ve done against that plan in order to have a clear understanding of your strengths and gaps so you know what you have left to do to qualify for the promotion. Are any of those action points considered soft skills where you may be too subjective about yourself to give a strong positive answer?  Ask a trusted colleague, mentor or manager to evaluate you against those points and give you an assessment of your level. It will help you take out the imposter subjectivity from yourself and provide some much needed external perspective. You’ll likely surprise yourself to hear from others that you are more qualified than you originally thought, which can help boost that confidence.

Next, outline your timeline and set your expectations.  If you have a 10 point action plan, do you actually need to finish 100% of it before you can submit yourself for the promotion? Or is 80% worth a shot?  Look at the pool of candidates in your company as well as the business need for the promotion. Often times 100% is what we as women will shoot for because we believe that we need to be the best, but in reality, businesses understand that no candidate will ever truly be 100% and they are really just looking for the best candidate against their current options and for their current needs.

Lastly, take a chance. The worst that happens when you self select for a new role or promotion is that you don’t get it. Along the journey, make sure you are open to learning about the opportunity, taking notes on areas of weakness, and asking for concrete actions you can take to be re-evaluated during the next cycle. Practice makes perfect and the feedback you get will help build that confidence and set you up for success the next time around. As I said earlier, I bet that if you do these key things, you’ll find out that you are so much more qualified than you give yourself credit for and over time, you’ll stop giving into the imposter syndrome to evaluate yourself against your true self worth and abilities.

Make the Rest Up creates content and curates beauty and lifestyle products with a mission to change the perception of beauty through philanthropy and empowerment. We focus on the fun and confidence that makeup and beauty provides, while giving back to causes at the core of women's needs, such as literacy and entrepreneurship.  10% of all our sales are donated to various charities supporting our favorite charities of these causes.