Imposter syndrome

Does anyone have any tips for dealing with imposter syndrome?

I am starting a new job soon and I am convinced I am very unqualified, which is basically the same feeling I’ve had in every job I’ve had for the last 10 years.

Does anyone have any good tips for dealing with this.


For my team, I talk with them about transferable skills, and I try to remind myself of those as well

I try to check with my peers and boss and diagonal folks about whether I’m focused on the right things (like, I’ll say, “I was thinking about doing x, is there anything I should know about before, or is there something I’m not considering?”).

I read up on the industry and my specialty in LinkedIn and Medium to make sure I’m up to speed on the trends and terminology (often the same concepts or frameworks have different language associated with them over time).

I give myself achievable goals for meetings - like “you will ask one decent question”, “you will use two people’s names”.

I think about what could go wrong (pre-mortem) and I consider what to do to avoid those things and how I can prepare for the things that can’t be fully prevented.

For the new job, I looked up articles about what to do in 30/60/90 days, and wrote down what made sense for me as a person.


When I feel like this I look over past work/accomplishments and remind myself of all the ways I was awesome at my job. I also try to remember that there should be things I don’t know yet about a new opportunity because that’s how we grow as professionals. You wouldn’t want a new job that doesn’t challenge you in any way, so a little bit of the unknown is good.

In short, you got this because you are awesome!


My issue is I don’t think I am awesome as my job.

I feel like every job I’ve gotten I was just in the right place at the right time or knew someone or just got lucky.

These seems achievable and like something I could do.

I will look up the 30/60/90 day thing :slight_smile:


Hi! This is my life. I can’t get a callback for anything. Every single job I’ve gotten has been because I knew someone. Then I get there and kick ass. You will too.

Year one is just figuring out what the hell the company is doing and dear god why is it like this. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in the first year.

Also, there are probably some things that will be hard, but don’t forget what you’re really good at. Do as much of that as you can and flaunt it.

And when you’re in the “I don’t belong here, there’s no way I should have gotten this” spiral, hold on to something fuzzy and remember everyone else sucks too.


WUT? Are there parts of the job you believe you are good at? What about non-job things - what non-job things are you good at? This all makes me feel like you are hypercritical of yourself.


But at the same time, someone on the hiring committee did think you were awesome and qualified, and this has happened consistently. I mean, obviously you don’t want to base your self-worth on others’ opinions, but they could have still gone with someone else and they didn’t.

Also, I feel like there’s always so much uncertainty when starting a new job, so it’s understandable that any anxiety about not being qualified for every single tiny thing is magnified. Echoing that your new employer won’t expect you to know everything - in fact, they expect you to make mistakes! It’s just how you react and grow from them that counts, and I’m sure you are kickass at all of that.


My imposter syndrome peaked in grad school and in retrospect, a couple aspects of the environment contributed to it: endless focus on excellence/exceptionalism, poorly/vaguely defined job responsibilities, and lack of feedback. Also a bit of snooty one-dimensionalism: if you can’t make groundbreaking discoveries what are you even good for?

Going into an industry job, I realized how much of this is a lie. First, exceptionalism is, well, exceptional. Oddly enough, so is simple competence and congeniality. 50% of being a good worker at any job is responsiveness, communication, attitude, humility, adaptability. Second, this workplace has a much better culture of feedback and appreciation, both formally and “thanks for getting X done, this is great.” Third, I was allowed to be new again and know nothing and mess up. And as I did, I saw my colleagues say “I don’t know, let me learn, let me find out.” That showed me it’s ok to have more to learn for the rest of my career. We aren’t perfect and we cant do everything. Finally, and this was the hardest part…I had to believe it. That it was ok to not be The Very Best ™ , that you also need some people that are Pretty Damn Good and also nice. That my manager was happy with me and my work. That I could learn as I go.

I’m not “cured,” I still have relapses, particularly when a coworker does something cool. But I can give myself credit for what I do accomplish and I believe the positive feedback, and that is progress.

PS one trick for believing positive feedback, to me, is asking for one good thing and one to improve on. It offsets the “oh they are just being nice” thought process which undermines my belief if they just say good things.


So true +1000000


I can absolutely relate to imposter syndrome and the feeling of “if they find out that I am not as good as they think” is also real for me.

One of the hardest things to learn for me was to accept that people recognise my work and to simply say “thank you” instead of playing things down. :wink:

I found also out, that I am appreciated for skills and capabilities with a more generalistic approach. I am now in a high management position and know that one of my biggest assets is to bring people together and get them to work in a structured and productive way.

In the last 20 years the highly specialized employee was the most appreciated one. After I realized that I never could compete with the dedicated specialists it was a lot easier for me to accept that I am in the right place.

Okay, not every day but most of the days. :laughing:


This is a huge skill - I am glad you have realized it is a skill you have (it is rare, very rare). I think we tend to undervalue the things that come easily or naturally to us - and we don’t realize that it isn’t an easy skill for others.


Thank you :blush:


I think this is mostly how everyone gets jobs! I got my current job by applying online and being called for an interview but one of the folks on the hiring committee knew who I was (Pittsburgh is a small town).

My goto for impostor syndrome is to try to look at it as an appropriate level of humility in the face of a massive, unmasterable world, rather than just me sucking. I also try to remember that capitalism is fucking weird, and if someone wants to pay me money to do something that I might not be great at (yet), then so be it :joy:

Tl;dr – your only responsibility is to try your best – chances are it will be good enough to fulfill the requirements of the job.


not really. I think I have skills that everyone has. (can use my work operating system, am not a total idiot) nothing that would make me that special. I think my job could be done by basically anyone who could pass primary school.

Maybe no one else applied and they were desperate??

This is helpful. I will try that at new job

I think a lot of my issues come from the fact I am a woman of colour who works in an industry that is mainly white men (my current work place is 87% Men) and I hear a lot of people complain that others have got jobs because they are women or because they are a minority so it makes me think I’ve only got the job because I’m not a white man and just feeling a minority target? Like I know I’m not totally useless but I’m also not that good, if that makes sense?


Oh no! I am in the US - but we have had affirmative action in the US for decades and still things are still dominated by white men and it is NOT because they are better at everything! Affirmative action may have helped in some situations - but mostly white men hire /admit other white men regardless of any attempts at affirmative action. They always find a rationalization, even if it is “a better fit with the company culture” (of white men). You can tell people to ignore race and gender, but it is just not that easy.

You are getting jobs because you are qualified, not because someone is “doing you a favor”. Businesses don’t do “favors”.

Is some sort of counseling available to you? Because it feels like this goes beyond “imposter syndrome”. Or do you suspect that you may suffer from something like depression or anxiety?

I am sure that you were not the only applicant, or that the company was “required” to hire a minority, or any other reason you may think “proves” you are not really qualified for job you have ever had.


I’m also a woman in a white male dominated industry, though I am white (can’t be helped!) At this point I am the only woman in a technical role in my department (~20); there were 2 others when I started, but they moved into other roles in the company… for career growth! Our dept is great culturally, they did not flee.).

It can really do a number on your head, the “they only hired me because they needed a [minority group]” thinking. I guess I think about this two ways. 1) we do need more women in male dominated fields (also POC in white dominated fields) so it’s important to be in that room and Represent. Both for the good of the field/company and for Womankind. 2) I am not ok with Representing in a subpar way, so I use it as motivation to improve. Maybe it’s learning new software, maybe it’s being more communicative. Whatever I can identify as triggering my inner Imposter.

Oh, and… 3) if you can manage it, having a supportive coworker or mentor who knows this space can be helpful. One if my team members, in spite of being a white dude is really sensitive to and interested in issues of diversity, how to be a good ally, etc. I also talk to one of the ladies that moved up and laterally, especially about imposter feelings.

I don’t know if any of that helps but here to commiserate for sure!


I’ve heard White Men complain that others got jobs because They Were A Minority Hire and every one of them gets an earful from me. It ain’t true. You got hired because they needed someone, and you’re good enough. You actually don’t even need to be the best at a job, you just need to be good enough and that’s it - you’re the one doing the work, and that’s enough.

Also, there are a LOT of people applying for every job available right now. I doubt you were the only option! People know what they want and keep an eye out for someone who fits that, so even if you were the only person considered for the role, they wanted YOU.

I know a little about the kind of work you have done, and no, you need a bit more than primary school to do it - the interpersonal skills are huge.

Happy to have you round for a cuppa and talk up how awesome I think you are if you ever need it :wink:


I’ve been on some recruitment panels recently and yep, loads of applicants. @nnls I guarantee you, your interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills are all well ahead of average.


Catch up would be good. Would probably be too embarrassed to listen to you talk me up :joy:

I think you and @HaH might be a bit biased about how good I am :slight_smile:

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Nah, I consistently get told my standards are too high.