Careers

5 Ways Imposter Syndrome Is Silently Killing Your Job Search


“What if I get caught? What if they realize I’m not good enough?”

The fear that one day everyone will realize that you don’t belong has plagued all of us at some point, especially when you decide to get out of your comfort zone and take a step in a new direction. As a career strategist who helps high-achievers land new jobs they love, I’ve seen how imposter syndrome can derail, delay and even sabotage qualified candidates from moving forward in their job search.

You may be familiar with the nagging voice of imposter syndrome. But, you might not be as familiar with the various ways it’s showing up in your job search. Here are five subtle ways imposter syndrome is killing your chances of landing a new job.

You’re sabotaging your job applications.

You’re likely guilty of this if every time you find a job description you really like, you immediately start looking for that one bullet that will disqualify you. Then, when you find it, you convince yourself that you shouldn’t apply since you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications. Or, if you do apply, you rarely think of ways to stand out in your resume because you’ve already told yourself that you’re probably not the best person for the position.

Making small quiet decisions like this every time you open up your laptop to search for a new job will only make your job search longer and more excruciating. Plus, those rejection emails and crickets in your inbox adds more fuel to the fire and perpetuates the nagging voice of imposter syndrome.

You’re talking yourself out of the role in interviews.

This may look like rarely taking credit for your work or blurting out that you don’t have much experience in one particular area of the job description. While you may assume this makes you more humble or honest, it actually makes the interviewer question if they can trust you to do the job. You landed the interview because the interviewer already saw something in you that you are failing to see in yourself. Unfortunately, making this mistake in interviews gives people permission to overlook you. This further makes you second guess yourself and your value.

When you’re not ultra-clear on why you are good enough and ready for the roles you’re interviewing for, you end up leaving more room for imposter syndrome to show up in your conversations. 

You’re saying yes to every opportunity you receive. 

Of course, it feels nice to get on LinkedIn and see an interview request from a random recruiter intrigued by your LinkedIn profile. But, if you’re saying yes to every random interview request you receive, you’re likely letting imposter syndrome (and fear) in the driver’s seat of your job search. For instance, if you’re ready to transition out of sales into business development, but you keep agreeing to talk to recruiters for sales positions you don’t want, “just to see” or practice your interview skills, you’re likely struggling in this area. 

On a deeper level, you could be saying yes to everything and anything because you’re not fully convinced that you’re good enough for the roles you want. You might think taking whatever you can get is the best way to ensure you’re not left stuck without any options. But, saying yes to everything is probably spreading you thin and holding you back from showing up as a top candidate, which ultimately leads to the same outcome. 

You’re expecting the worst all the time.

At this point, you know if you fit this bill. You’re rarely excited for interviews anymore. You expect not to make it past the first round. You expect to get ghosted when you reach out to people. You’ve convinced yourself that you are, indeed, the problem. 

And, hey, it’s understandable given that things haven’t panned out the way you’d like. But, expecting the worst all the time is only making things worse. It’s time to tap into the reality that opportunities are still waiting for you because that negative energy is likely impacting your confidence, your prospects and your chances of landing a new job you’ll love. 

You’re accepting the minimum salary offer out of fear.

If you haven’t worked through your imposter syndrome by the time you finally get a job offer, you might find yourself feeling lucky just to get offered a new job. Because of that, you might let gratitude stop you from negotiating. Or, if you don’t truly think you deserve the job you’ve been offered, you’re more likely to take whatever salary you’re offered out of fear that the company could change their mind if you don’t. This not only impacts your ability to show up for yourself in your new role, but it also impacts your earning potential in your new position. 

I know it all sounds grim, but it’s important to be aware of how imposter syndrome can subtly impact your confidence, progress and opportunities in your job search. While it’s easy to try and fix other elements of your job search like your resume and interview skills, tackling imposter syndrome is worth the effort. Overcoming imposter syndrome can make all the difference in landing a new job you feel proud and deserving of in your career.

Adunola Adeshola coaches high-achievers on how to take their careers to the next level and secure the positions they’ve been chasing. Grab her free guide.



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