Back in the fall, I wrote about overcoming impostor syndrome for financial success. It got a strong response then and ever since writing it I’ve occasionally gotten comments or e-mails from other women who thought it was just them feeling this way.
A short definition of impostor syndrome might be: “Feeling like you’ve never made significant accomplishments and that you’re actually a fraud waiting to be found out and humiliated/punished/exposed.” Women are the most likely to suffer from it
Yet people who feel this way have often made real accomplishments, things that everyone else can see and appreciate. It’s not rational.
While at work recently, I discovered a series of career books which I think are particularly suited to those dealing with impostor syndrome. They’re called the “Career Coward” books.
The premise of these books isn’t necessarily that you have impostor syndrome, as such, but you’re afraid of changing jobs, finding a job, etc. You’re timid, unsure, perhaps even unconvinced of your own skills. Sounds a lot like impostor syndrome feelings, though not everyone feeling this way may also feel like an impostor…she just might be intimidated by more experienced professionals when she thinks about leaving her current position.
I think the power of each books comes from the author’s helpful, reassuring tone, which carries throughout.
In the resume book, for example, every chapter begins with a “Risk It or Run From It” box. The box contains a “Risk Rating,” “Payoff Potential,” “Time to Complete,” “Bailout Strategy,” “The ’20 Percent Extra’ Edge,” and “‘Go For It!’ Bonus Activity.” Reading the box is a great way to prepare for the next chapter. It’s motivational to know that there isn’t (or be prepared because there is) risk around the corner and that this is completely doable…and why it’s valuable.
So the risk rating for doing an alternative resume format might be medium but there’s also a bailout strategy of going with an extremely conventional look.
Chapters all include “How To,” “Why It’s Worth Doing,” “Panic Point!” (troubleshooting), and a “Career Champ Profile” which shows how a Career Coward conquered these issues.
I’ve read two so far, the The Career Coward’s Guide To Resumes and Career Coward’s Guide to Changing Careers and found both quite reassuring. I’m not planning on job hunting right now, but when each crossed my path I still couldn’t resist reading it.
Checking out the resume book was a particularly good idea, since I’m trying to keep mine up-to-date. It’s much more fun to work on them when you don’t need to than when you do.
After reading them, I felt like getting a different job feel achievable. They helped me take better stock of my accomplishments and acknowledge them (if only for a day…). I’m keeping an eye out at work for the other two books in the series: The Career Coward’s Guide to Interviewing and Career Coward’s Guide to Job Searching.
I guess you could say I’m not a Brazen Careerist. I’m just glad that there are books which help someone like me build confidence about career, job hunting, etc.
Whether you’re scared in general by the thought of job hunting or you really feel like you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, I’d suggest checking your local library for these books. They may not be something you need to buy but they’ll certainly be useful.
If you’re looking for more career resources, I suggest this career resouce collection post at Green Panda Treehouse.