The impostor phenomenon, or why you don’t feel like you’re good enough to do your job

Have you ever felt that you are not good enough and that someday soon someone will see through your façade of competence and expose you a fraud in your job? If so, you are not alone.

This sensation of being a fake in the workplace, somehow in a position beyond one’s true capabilities is known as “the impostor phenomenon”. Some estimate that about 70% of people from all walks of life feel like impostors for at least some part of their careers. The sensation is far from pleasant, but a new study from the University of Salzburg, Austria that was published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that it might not only be detrimental to your self-esteem but to your career prospects and business as well.

Dr. Mirjam Neureiter and Dr. Eva Traut-Mattausch studied the responses to an anonymous online survey of 238 university alumni, now working across a variety of sectors and professions. They were interested in how the impostor phenomenon would affect a sufferer’s attitude to their career development, the ability to adapt to new working conditions and their knowledge of the job market.

They found that this suite of career self-management factors was negatively affected by the phenomenon, demonstrating that those who feel like fakes, though high-achieving, tend not to fulfil their full potential. By undervaluing their talent, workers could be ruining their careers and companies.

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