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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