New job… and imposter syndrome returns…

Recently I’ve been offered a new job, after a number of issues in my current role I decided to make the difficult decision to make the move trying something a bit different to what I’m doing. 

Although this is a slight change in the career path I envisioned, it still utilises my experience as a project manager, and was an offer that was too good to refuse. 

However as I started working off my notice period I started experiencing feelings of self-doubt – I questioned my ability to do the job, and whether the interview panel had made a mistake picking me as the successful candidate. 

I realised as I faced this new challenge, my imposter syndrome had come back to rear its ugly head.  I decided I would not let these feelings of inadequacy consume me from this achievement. 

How to defeat imposter syndrome when you start a new job… 

When you’ve been offered a new job you’ll naturally experience doubts, after all you’re taking a risk from making this change.  If you find you are experiencing traits of imposter syndrome, then you need to: 

  1. Separate the facts from the feelings. 
  2. Accept you didn’t trick anyone to give you the job. 
  3. Appreciate you’ve not even started the job yet – you’re not supposed to know everything. 
  4. Be compassionate to yourself, change those negative feelings to something positive. 
  5. Change your focus – move away from thinking you don’t know what to do, plan what you need to do. 
  6. Appreciate you’re going through the change process – you’ll naturally feel doubt. 

What is imposter syndrome? 

Imposter Syndrome is when you believe you are not as capable as how others perceive you to be, and is a common trait in perfectionists. 

If you’ve ever worked in a role where you feel like a fraud ready to be found out, then it’s likely you’ve experienced imposter syndrome. 

These traits make the individual a good employee, but because of their exceptionally high standards they may spend too long on a task to go above and beyond, working overtime to meet this standard. 

This video illustrates people experiencing imposter syndrome: 

For further guidance on dealing with imposter syndrome, check out 5 Strategies to Beat Imposter Syndrome. 

When starting a new job remember: 

Separate the facts from the feelings 

The underlying problem about imposter syndrome is based around personal feeling – nothing you tell yourself is a fact!  When you… 

  • say you’re not good enough to do the new job, that is a feeling not a fact
  • think the interview panel have made a mistake in choosing you, that is a feeling not a fact
  • tell yourself, you’re actually not ready for a promotion, that is a feeling not a fact. 

You got the job, the interview panels thought you were the best candidate, you’re new employer is hyped for you to start, you don’t know what you’re doing yet (but will) – those are all facts! 

Imposter Syndrome: “You may feel worthless – but that does not necessarily make it correct. Feelings aren’t facts.”

You didn’t trick anyone 

Whenever I get offered a promotion, I often go into a state where it feels like a dream, thinking I’d misheard that I was successful in obtaining the job.  After all – who would really think I’m good enough? 

When you realise, it’s all true you feel like a fraud – has there been some sort of administration error?  Or perhaps I pulled off an amazing con job on the interview panel, tricking them into offering the job over a much more deserving candidate. 

All these thoughts are of course are bullshit

When you get offered a job, there is no trickery involved.  Your interviewers deserve more credit – they generally know what they are doing, and know who has the best abilities for the job.  In this case, that was you. 

Image from Pexels

It’s day one – you’re not supposed to know it all 

First day of a new job can give the similar feeling to the first day of school? 

When does my IT kit arrive? 

Where do I need to go? 

Who are all these faces?… 

…And how do they know so much? 

How do I request annual leave?… 

Oh god!  I don’t know what I’m doing… I’m so useless. 

This lack of competency to understand even the most basic of stuff is enough to trigger imposter syndrome.  Just remember those feelings of insecurity are natural, you’ve just moved out of your comfort zone… so of course you won’t know everything! 

Be compassionate to yourself 

As you wait for your notice period to expire before you can start the first day of the new job, remember to treat yourself with compassion.  Until you actually start none of this will seem real. 

That time between handing in your notice and starting the next job, can allow a lot of time for reflection, where you question your abilities to do the next job, especially as you get less work to do before your departure. 

Imposter syndrome can be controlled, by showing greater care to yourself.  Here are some tips to show yourself some compassion to yourself: 

Give yourself credit for your achievement 

Take the time to enjoy the moment, when you’ve been offered a new job, you’ve achieved an impressive milestone. 

Make sure to celebrate it – go out for a meal, have a drink or give yourself some sort of reward. 

Also take the time to reflect.  Every moment I achieve another promotion I like to look back where I came from 5, 10, 15 years ago.  By allowing this moment of contemplation, you can really appreciate how far you’ve come. 

Remember your skills and achievements 

You have many experiences which prove you are the person for the job. 

Look at your abilities and qualifications and appreciate how they have contributed in your personal and professional development.  It’s this depth of skills that you are bringing to the table that make you the perfect fit for this job. 

Practice compassionate self-talk 

When you find yourself belittling your abilities, dismiss that negative voice and correct it with wording to say something positive about yourself. 

Instead of “You were lucky to get that job” 

Say: “I am the right person for the job” 

Instead of “You’re going to fail at this job, it’s too much to take on” 

Say: “I am going to be a success in this job, and yes, there will be a big learning curve, but by careful planning I know I will make this job my own” 

Imposter Syndrome: “You are good enough.”

What is causing these feelings? 

If you are suffering serious confidence issues, take time to reflect what is causing this? 

  • Have you worked a job that didn’t work out? 
  • Had a bad past experience with a manager? 
  • Struggled to adjust to a new organisation culture when changing jobs? 

Whatever the situation, look deeply into this – what did it mean to you, how did it impact you?  Then set an action plan to address how you will work around it. 

Change your focus 

As you begin your role it’s easy to think “Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m doing!…” and getting yourself, all worked up into a panic. 

Instead take a different approach, shift these thoughts to think about what you need to do: 

  • Work out your priorities. 
  • Make sure to take the time to settle in with the team, work out it’s culture. 
  • Emphasise who do you need to meet? 
  • Ask your manager – what do you need to do, and what needs doing to be considered successful in the role. 

By asking these types of questions you can start putting together a plan – what do you need to achieve for the first six months of the job? 

This will help you move away from thinking about what you don’t know, to focus on thinking about what you need to do. 

Remember it’s all part of the change process 

It’s worth noting the fears and doubts that you’re not good enough – it’s all part of the change process, you’ll probably go through a period of uncertainty, confusion and regret, as you go from leaving your old job to starting the new one, but eventually you will move onto acceptance and settle into your new life. 

When you hand in your notice, you find it becomes an odd time – you can’t get stuck into your new role yet, but your colleague now know you’re off so, you’re no longer “one of them” 

You’ll see a (often unintentional) change in their behaviour, simple actions like being left off meetings, and not being brought in to help on a new juicy sounding project can bring up feelings of insecurity.  The imposter in you brings out your self-doubt, are you being snubbed because you’re not good enough? 

The answer is NO.  Please remember – you’re leaving, the team is now going through its own changes focused on a replanning a future that doesn’t involve you. 

With a reduction in responsibility, you might suddenly find you have lots of free time to kill.  This can be horrible because you’re left to your own thoughts, which is a dangerous time for imposter syndrome to grow as you start questioning your competency for the next role. 

The key is to using this time productively and leave a positive final impression with your team – organise training sessions for things you know, create process documents, do whatever you can to pass on your knowledge and expertise. 

This will also benefit you – as help you in your own knowledge retention, as studies show learning by teaching is an effective way of improving your understanding and knowledge retention. 

Finally, just enjoy this time, because it won’t last – as your responsibilities gradually disappear you can relax knowing you don’t need to throw yourself in stressing about the latest problem that needs sorting. 

Imposter Syndrome: When starting a new job remember…

Conclusion – a new job what’s the worst that can happen? 

Congratulations to you on getting a new job.  You’re naturally going to feel nervous and have doubts whether you have made a mistake. 

Imposter syndrome kicks in and you start thinking what you did to trick the interview panel to convince them that you could do the job. 

However, imagine for a second that your thoughts are true?  You’re not good enough?  What’s the worst that can happen? 

In one situation, you start your job, working extra hard to cover up your insecurities.  You struggle at first, but because of your exceptional high standards you end up impressing all your colleagues, eventually becoming a highly valued member of the team. 

Or in another (unlikely) situation, you find out all your fears were true, it was too much too soon, you’re in over your head, you struggle to become competent in your role, and you hand your notice in.  Because you’ve made a premature departure you now feel like a pathetic failure 

Does it all really matter?  You obviously took the role for a reason – because you were ready to move on.  At least you took the risk.  At least you tried – by doing so you learnt a bit more about yourself.  There’s always plenty of jobs out there. 

A Final Reminder… 

As you get ready to start your new job, just remember: 

  1. Separate the facts from the feelings. 
  2. Accept you didn’t trick anyone to give you the job. 
  3. Appreciate you’ve not even started the job yet – you’re not supposed to know everything. 
  4. Be compassionate to yourself, change those negative feelings to something positive. 
  5. Change your focus – move away from thinking you don’t know what to do, plan what you need to do. 
  6. Appreciate you’re going through the change process – you’ll naturally feel doubt. 

Wishing you the best in your success. 

James @Perfect Manifesto 

next read: From Pushover to Powerhouse: How To Be More Assertive

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13 thoughts on “Starting a New Job: How to Defeat Imposter Syndrome

  1. another wonderful, thoughtful post, James. I wish you the best at your new job. It seems like you are going in aware of what the issues will be when you start on a new job, and how to cope with such feelings.

    I have that imposter feeling sometimes when I realize that I’m teaching at a school that I’m not sure would accept me as a student! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Jim! Confidence in my abilities ranges I’ve been okay with the last couple of promotions because I’d being doing the jobs for a while so I knew I could do them!

      In my current role I’ve not been there that long so sometimes think is it too much too soon. But then I just remind myself that they picked me for a reason… I’ll be much better when I cam get stuck into it!

      That’s an interesting feeling and a big challenge for an educator! Do you sometimes look at the faces of your students and wonder if they are judging your abilities?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. and in addition, you now have a track record of success, which should give you confidence that such success will continue.

        I often look at the faces of my students and wonder if they care at all about what I am talking about…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s true!

        It’s interesting to note your experience with your students. I’ve been leading some training recently and felt that people listening were thinking I didn’t know what I was talking about!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is amazingly well written and would be wonderful to develop it as a book! Just suggesting!

    Congratulations on your new job! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you, that’s a fantastic compliment, I’m glad to add value for free, but definitely should work on the book front!

      And thank you, its exciting but also nervous times too!

      Liked by 2 people

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