Support needed to help young workers overcome imposter syndrome

May 23, 2022

Have you ever sat in your office or workplace and doubted that you belong or indeed are worthy of your position?

If so – you may be experiencing Imposter Syndrome and be one of 85 per cent* of UK workers whose feelings of not being good enough are holding them back in their careers or moving forward in their professional or even personal lives.

Imposter syndrome is often described as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has an internal fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’ along with feelings that they do not deserve their success.

However, recent research shows that it is not only professionals who suffer. It is estimated that two in five (43 per cent) of university students may suffer from imposter syndrome – according to The University of Law.

The study suggests that pressures of perfectionism, ever increasing social comparisons and a fear of failure may all contribute – alongside the thoughts of exams and assignments.

But Peterborough-based recruitment agency Anne Corder Recruitment says that graduates and other young candidates should have their many talents recognised – and be encouraged to celebrate all they bring to the world of work.

Managing Director Nel Woolcott said: “More often than not, when young people step into their first job role, they are understandably a little reserved – keen not to appear too self-assured.

“These candidates should be actively encouraged and supported in sharing what they have to bring to the job and to the business. These commonly include a thirst for knowledge, social skills, an understanding of modern communication and most importantly, the feeling that they ARE the right person for the job they have been hired to do.

“Older peers or those who have been in post for many years may of course have some degree of experience but nurturing new staff can only add to the diversity, enthusiasm and positive point of difference in a team.”

Career coach and Blue Diamond founder Melanie Coeshott has this advice: “It’s normal to feel like an imposter at times, but it’s important to recognise that there is often no evidence to back up our feelings. What we’re hearing is simply an unhelpful narrative or story that we’re telling ourselves.

“One of my favourite ways of dealing with my own inner imposters is to name it, or rather name her. This can help partly to identify what it is when it shows up, so we can distinguish between what’s real and what’s just a story. The other reason is that becoming familiar with our inner imposter is the first step in being able to “tame” it and learn to live with it, a bit like a pet!”

Some advice from The University of Law Business School for those studying or looking for graduate work.

  • When it comes to mental health, acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step to self-help. Saying it out loud can help put things into perspective.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your peers, favourite influencers and businesspeople. It’s important to remember that social media shows only a fraction of people’s lives, and most people will have gone or are going through a very similar experience.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes – we all do it. Even though it is natural to feel disappointed in ourselves and sometimes like we have ‘failed’, making mistakes is a crucial step in developing our skills and is a direct result of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
  • The next time you have a setback – which is very common while studying or applying for new jobs – write down three things you can learn from it and apply them to future tasks to help you in your professional development.
  • Reward yourself. Start celebrating the small wins, whether it’s getting to the first stage of an interview, presenting in front of people or simply making it to the end of a busy week. Creating a positive attitude towards your work will help remove negative thoughts.



85 per cent