Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes first theorized about Imposter Syndrome in 1978. It can be defined as the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or your qualifications. It persists in the form of feelings of inadequacy despite success.
In the progressive political space where you can move up fast and jump from one campaign department to another even during the same cycle, many of us suffer from feelings that we don’t “qualify” for what we are doing, or what we are applying to do. I have had those same feelings, and I wanted to share tips to overcome them.
1. Apply Anyways
The feeling that you aren’t good enough for a position often starts before we have even gotten the role. We don’t apply to a job we really want because it says we need to have five years of experience when we only have three. I say, apply anyway, most employers are looking for someone who fits with the culture of their organization and you can certainly make the case that your past experience equals how many years they are looking for. Employers often hire people with fewer years of experience than listed in the job description and the worst thing that can happen is you get rejected. If you aren’t sure how to make that case, then consider taking the free Translating Your Job Experience training that Arena offers.
2. Prepare for the Interview
We often talk ourselves out of interviewing for a job because, “I’m sure there are more qualified candidates,” or any number of other reasons. If you have made it to the interview, then the hiring manager has deemed you as qualified, and there is a chance you can land that opportunity. Research the company and its mission. Review the job description and think of how you can answer questions about what you bring to the table for the major points. Reach out to someone else in the industry to ask questions beforehand. Practice your answers. The more you prepare for the interview the less those feelings of inadequacy will come up. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Put your best foot forward and let the employer find any skill gaps or concerns, don’t preemptively sell yourself short. Look into the Crushing Your Interview Training to help you gain confidence.
3. Recognize Your Accomplishments
Once we have joined an organization, the feelings that Imposter Syndrome brings to the surface don’t just go away. Those dealing with it often say that something they accomplished was “luck”, or due to the help of many people. Not to say that others didn’t contribute to the success, but recognizing your part in that accomplishment is important. Don’t minimize the knowledge you brought to the table to make something successful. Say out loud, “I’m proud of what I have accomplished,” until that feeling sinks in. Focus on your strengths and use them to help you succeed—don’t forget, these are the things that have helped you make it this far.
4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Everyone is on their own professional journey, and no one got to the place they are by following the exact path of someone else. If others are doing similar work as you but they have more years of experience, it does not mean that you can’t or won’t do just as good a job or better. You are where you are because you bring something to the table that no one else does, and it helps to keep that in mind. When it seems that many people are becoming an “overnight success” we often think we should be doing better, the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. If you are doing better than you were last year, last month, or even yesterday, take that as a win.
You may have to work at it, but overcoming Imposter Syndrome is possible, and reach out to others if you need help or encouragement. Arena and other organizations offer trainings that can help you overcome these feelings and become more confident in yourself. Check them out.
Here are some helpful articles I read to inform my thinking around Imposter Syndrome when I was writing this blog. If you want more information or other perspectives on the topic I recommend you read them as well.
- NY Times – How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- Business Insider – 5 Fundamental Things Leaders Can Do to Combat Imposter Syndrome
- Time – Yes, Imposter Syndrome is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It
- Harvard Business Review – Overcoming Imposter Syndrome