How to overcome imposter syndrome and boost your career

Do. you suffer from imposter syndrome? Discover the different types of imposter syndrome and how to stop them sabotaging your career.

Imposter syndrome is a common challenge experienced by many. It’s a mindset where individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as a fraud. More than 70% of the workforce is affected by some kind of imposter thought at one time or another.

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, however working parents, and those who work flexibly or part time hours often experience it with the added complexity of working in different locations and different patterns than their full-time or office-based colleagues.

Let’s take a look at some of the common triggers of imposter syndrome, explore its impact, and equip you with some practical tips and tools to address it head-on.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, a term first introduced in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, has become a widely recognised phenomenon. 

At its core, imposter syndrome is characterised by an internal struggle with self-doubt and feelings of incompetence, even in the face of evident success. 

Individuals grappling with this syndrome often experience a persistent fear of being exposed as imposters, leading to heightened anxiety, insecurity, and a fear of failure.

What are the types of imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome can show itself in various ways, and a person may experience one or more types at the same time. Some common types of imposter syndrome include:

  1. The Perfectionist: This type of imposter feels a constant need to excel and achieve perfection in every task. They set excessively high standards for themselves and often fear being exposed as inadequate if they make even minor mistakes.
  2. The Superhero: This type of imposter syndrome manifests in individuals who take on excessive workloads and responsibilities, going above and beyond what is expected of them. They fear disappointing others and feel the need to prove their worth through constant overachievement.
  3. The Soloist: Soloists feel they must accomplish tasks on their own and are hesitant to ask for help or support. They fear that seeking assistance may reveal their incompetence or dependence on others.
  4. The Outsider: People with this type of imposter syndrome feel like they don’t belong or that they are different from their colleagues or peers. They may attribute their achievements to external factors like luck or being in the right place at the right time, rather than recognising their own capabilities.
  5. The Natural Genius: People with this type of imposter syndrome believe they should effortlessly excel in all areas without much effort or struggle. They may feel inadequate and experience self-doubt when they encounter challenges or need to put in extra effort to succeed.
  6. The Expert: Individuals with this type of imposter syndrome believe they must know everything before taking on a task or accepting recognition for their work. They feel the need to be an expert in all areas and fear being seen as incompetent or lacking knowledge.

Do you recognise your own thoughts and behaviours in any of these types? If you felt that you were represented by more than one of the types, that’s not surprising. The individual types aren’t  mutually exclusive, and you could experience a combination of any two or more types.

Recognising and understanding these types can help both individuals and organisations address and support those dealing with imposter syndrome.

How does imposter syndrome hinder us from progressing in our career?

As humans, we’re naturally hardwired to resist change, and this can slow down our personal and professional growth and development. To flourish, people and organisations must find the courage, self-assurance, and confidence necessary to embrace uncharted territories and step outside of their comfort zones. 

What are the main factors that influence imposter syndrome and how can you overcome them?


When employees feel they need to be valued more, it’s very often due to a lack of clarity in their job expectations, performance feedback, rewards, and support for growth. Effective communication is essential to address these issues and ensure employees understand their company’s vision and goals and how their own contributions align with the bigger picture.

If you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to evaluate your understanding of your organisation’s vision and goals and check that your leader and critical stakeholders share the same understanding. It’s also helpful to assess whether your colleagues recognise your value and can see how your work contributes to the company’s objectives.

Believing in your value and abilities is vital to overcome the imposter syndrome mindset. By regularly communicating your accomplishments and seeking feedback, you can help others around you recognise your worth and, in turn, boost your confidence in your ability to contribute effectively.

Fair pay and equal opportunities

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not receiving equal treatment  and opportunities for advancement, or fair pay, it’s essential first to assess whether you’ve advocated for yourself by asking for what you deserve. If you’ve taken this step and still face resistance, it’s time to investigate the root cause.

Is the issue stemming from a lack of communication and understanding, or is it due to a toxic workplace culture that undervalues and devalues its employees? Education and open dialogue with your employer may sometimes be necessary to bridge the gap. However, if your gut feeling tells you that something isn’t right, it’s essential to trust your instincts and gather the facts.

Recognising your worth and being prepared to stand up for yourself, whether negotiating for better compensation or seeking a more supportive work environment, is essential.

Visibility within the organisation

This can be a challenge for those who work remotely or part time – something that many working parents, particularly working mums, will recognise. Working remotely, compressed hours, or different patterns to colleagues can mean that sometimes you feel less ‘seen’.

This can lead to feeling as though bosses and colleagues are less aware of you and your impact on the company, or to worries that you’re seen as less committed because you aren’t in the office 9-5.

However, it’s important to remember that you offer unique value to an organisation, whatever your working pattern may be. You bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion to the role – and your commitment is no less than someone who works in a more traditional style.

So, what strategies can you use to overcome imposter syndrome in this scenario?

Assessing whether your thoughts and feelings are based on reality or on personal insecurities is helpful. Open discussions with your leaders are a great way to express your feelings and have input into how the company can better facilitate a flexible working environment.

This could involve implementing various solutions, from strategies to increase visibility in team meetings to more regular touchpoints with management.

How to take control of imposter syndrome

It’s crucial to believe in your worth and understand that you deserve recognition for your achievements. Don’t let self-doubt hold you back; you deserve to be rewarded for your skills, experience and contribution.

By adopting this mindset, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities and more committed to your job. Ultimately, taking control of a fixed mindset paves the way for a healthier, happier, and more productive work environment for everyone involved.

Imposter syndrome is a challenge you can overcome

Imposter syndrome is a common challenge faced by many. However, by understanding its impact and implementing practical strategies, both leaders and employees can overcome it.

Creating a culture that values open communication and supports growth is crucial. Employers should provide clarity in job expectations, offer regular feedback, and recognise employees’ value and contributions. Employees, in turn, can actively communicate their achievements and seek feedback to reinforce their confidence.

Taking control of imposter syndrome requires a shift in mindset. Employers should recognise the value delivered by their teams, share and reward successes and achievements, and promote equality, while employees must believe in their worth and be prepared to seek out and accept feedback and validation to prove that others see their value.

By acknowledging and addressing imposter syndrome head-on, both employers and employees can create a positive, productive, and fulfilling work environment. You deserve to thrive in your career so don’t let Imposter Syndrome hold you back from realising your full potential.

CJ. Talent is working to create a flexible recruitment marketplace for high quality, senior roles, enabling experienced, talented individuals to work flexibly.