5 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome During Your Job Search

updated on 06 February 2022
A common trait that Alex and Anna share is self-doubt.
A common trait that Alex and Anna share is self-doubt.

Do Alex and Anna's thoughts sound familiar to you? Welcome to the club!

Most job seekers looking to apply to FAANG companies and begin their job search with utmost positivity and optimism. They feel like the world is their oyster, and they'll change their entire life by landing that dream job. But as time passes, there's one little secret that all job seekers share: A constant feeling of not being good enough, undeserving, as if all their accomplishments are a fraud. 🤐

This little secret has a name: Imposter Syndrome. Most job seekers and professionals struggle with it from time to time. Imposter Syndrome refers to the feeling of self-doubt, inadequacy, or incompetency that makes you go 'I am a fraud' in your head. Individuals affected by imposter syndrome often feel like they got where they are through sheer dumb luck and are not as competent as others perceive them to be. 😔

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Psychologist Dr Pauline Rose Clance was the first to study this unwarranted sense of insecurity. According to Healthline, imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. People who are highly skilled or accomplished often think that others are just as skilled as them, so they believe they do not deserve opportunities. However, this feeling is not only restricted to highly competent individuals.

Warning Signs Imposter Syndrome Might be Sabotaging Your Job search! ⚠️

Here are a few warning signs to watch out for!

1) Killing Your Job Applications!
Job seekers often read job descriptions to find one point that can convince them they're not qualified for the job. As a result, they spend less time building perfect resume/cover letter to get them an interview call or highlighting exemplary accomplishments during interviews. When these silent decisions continue to affect the job search process for longer, it further perpetuates the imposter syndrome.

2) Failing to Plan Forward.
Job search processes often go on for extended periods because job seekers don't prepare enough. They believe they will not get the job anyway, and hence only do the bare minimum when applying for a job. They do not use their optimized ATS-friendly resume or improve their presence on LinkedIn and show up at interviews with little or no preparation, killing their chances to land their dream job.

3) Saying Yes to Every Opportunity that Comes Your Way.
One major mistake job seekers make is saying yes to the first job offer they get. This could be for several reasons, like applying to jobs last minute just before you graduate or not doing your homework on what companies and positions you want to apply to. When pressed with time, job seekers often accept the very first offer that comes their way, sometimes at the cost of better pay or their dream offer. If you say yes to every interview you get invited to, you're probably letting imposter syndrome take charge of your job search.

4) Waiting to "Get Lucky."
It is not very uncommon for people who've not worked their way through imposter syndrome to believe they received the interview call or job offer just because they are lucky. They think they got the opportunity only because they were at the right place and time, with the right set of people helping them. In reality, it could be the exact opposite of what they think it is - they earned it because of their hard work and efforts.

Checkout: Non-Tech Roles in FAANG Companies

Our founder, Nikita Gupta, has said it! You've worked hard, and you've grown.
Our founder, Nikita Gupta, has said it! You've worked hard, and you've grown.

5) Hesitating to Highlight Accomplishments During Interviews.
This may look like not taking credit for your accomplishments or saying you do not have enough experience doing something even when you're aware you are fully capable of doing it well. Job seekers kill their chances of landing their dream job by talking themselves out of the role during interviews. They hesitate to take ownership of their achievements and convey clearly why they are the best for the job, leaving room for imposter syndrome to cloud their conversations.

5 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome During Your Job Search 💪

If you're reading this blog, chances are you're dealing with imposter syndrome at the moment or have dealt with it at some point in the past. There is often no threshold of accomplishments that could put these feelings to rest, but there are ways to combat it. You can learn to identify it, manage it and take ownership of your accomplishments without feeling like a fraud!

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings.

The first way to cope with imposter syndrome is by acknowledging it. Rather than working harder to change your self-image, acknowledge what you're feeling. Accepting that the feeling of fraudulence is because of self-doubt and not based on how you perform at work will help you tackle it better.

Identify what is shaking your confidence. It could be an interview call, a job offer from your dream company, or a promotion. When you try to identify the confidence culprit, you'll likely end up with reasons like I landed this interview call only because of good luck. There are so many people out there who are far more accomplished and talented than me. It is only a matter of time my interviewers will find out I'm not cut out for the job and reject me. This culprit is likely the root cause of your imposter syndrome.

Once you know where the problem is, you can find a solution.

2. Keep an Accomplishment Box!

Remind yourself of your achievements. Working towards a goal is much more demanding than setting one. And it is only normal to feel you've not achieved enough during the process of it.

Make your accomplishments box your best friend in your job search journey. Let it remind you of everything you've done.
Make your accomplishments box your best friend in your job search journey. Let it remind you of everything you've done.

Every time you make progress, add it to your accomplishments box. Your resume got shortlisted for your dream company? Add it to the box. Received an interview call? Add it to the box. Networked with people from your dream companies? Add it to the box. Everything you're proud of should make it to the box. Celebrate every time you make progress to remind yourself how consistent you are. When you can see how far you've come, you'll be more confident about how you accomplished your goal. Your accomplishments box will remind you that you've earned your win.

3. Learn to Trust Yourself and The People Who Got You Here.

It is easy to fool yourself into believing you're a fraud. But do you think the people who chose to give you a chance are too? Impossible.

Remember that you got the interview call or job offer because you're good. The hiring managers who went over your resume find you talented enough to make it to the next round. They see you as a potential employee in their company which is why they've chosen to spend time interviewing you over other candidates. You got the job offer because you proved to them you're the best at what you do. The people who vouched for you are incredibly competent at what they do, and the companies who chose you made deliberate choices based on your calibre and skills.

Pat yourself on the back if you made it that far in the hiring process. You're amazing!

4. Try Mentoring.

Mentoring does not necessarily have to be teaching a group of students. It could be as simple as helping people around you with their queries about job search or your field of work. Two main benefits in helping others out are:

  1. You gain confidence through others' successes. Seeing someone progressing through your mentorship will help you understand how good you are at what you do. 
  2. You'll discover the strengths that might help you stand out from other candidates during your job search process. You'll realize that the skills you did not find noteworthy earlier were ones you used the most when helping others.

5. Speak to Someone You Trust About How You Feel. 

As we mentioned earlier, everyone deals with the feeling of 'I feel like a fraud' at some point, be it at work, at home, or around friends. But most people choose not to talk about it for fear of appearing weak or vulnerable, which is not true. This often leads to pluralistic ignorance, where each one of us believes we're the only one feeling a certain way because no one else voices those feelings.

So the next time impostorism hits you, speak to someone about it. This will reduce the power the imposter feeling has on your thoughts and help you think clearer. We often tend to be our harshest critics. Hearing it from others can sometimes increase your confidence in yourself. The next time you need reassurance about why you made it where you are, ask about your performance. Take feedback and understand what led you where you are.

There might not be an utterly surefire way of getting rid of these imposter feelings entirely, but we can do things to ease the feelings of fraudulence. Having open conversations and accepting yourself with your strengths and weaknesses can help you be more aware of your capabilities.

The next time you feel like an imposter, repeat to yourself-
You have talent. You're capable. You belong. ❤️

Overcoming imposter syndrome during the job search is worth the effort. But there are also other elements like your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile that play an essential role in helping you land interview calls and offers from your dream companies.

FAANGPath is a team of experienced mentors committed to helping talented people get hired at FAANG+ companies. Under the dynamic leadership of Nikita Gupta, FAANGPath is empowering job aspirants by providing premium FAANG resume reviews, LinkedIn makeovers, 1:1 mentorship, and mock interview services. Talk to FAANGPath's mentor and get all your queries solved.

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Here is a short infographic you can save and share about strategies to overcome imposter syndrome during the job search.
Here is a short infographic you can save and share about strategies to overcome imposter syndrome during the job search.

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