Overcoming imposter syndrome while working from home

 By Rebecca Siciliano, Managing Director, Tiger Recruitment  

young woman working from home, using her laptop on the floorFor many people, working from home during the pandemic has brought with it a new-found freedom and flexibility they may never have previously experienced.

However, it does come with downsides – especially for those who have been out of the office for eight months straight! These range from back problems as a result of sitting at an ill-equipped workspace to exhaustion where the lines between work and personal time blur. However, one negative feeling may not be as obvious as others – self-doubt. Also known as imposter syndrome, this can make it very difficult to manage when it takes hold.

While these feelings are not unusual, especially for those who have just started a new role, they may be compounded by the isolation of working at home. Seclusion and self-doubt are best friends, as the first can easily enable the second. When you’re working at home on your own, it’s easy to find these unhelpful thoughts swirling around your head with no relief.

So, if you’re doubting your abilities to carry out your role, what can you do? Below, we’ve listed six tips to bust out of that rut and start working with more confidence.

Be aware of why you’re feeling the way you do

The first thing to do is stop, take five, and think about what you’re feeling. It’s only by identifying imposter syndrome that you’re able to take the steps to overcome it. If you’re feeling this way because you’ve started a new role during the pandemic, you may be feeling like you don’t belong because you haven’t had the opportunity to connect with your colleagues in person. Don’t be disheartened by feeling left out of their friendly WhatsApp banter – instead, why not ask one of them for a 15-minute Zoom coffee break? Taking the initiative will impress your teammates and will allow you to better connect on a personal level.

Take a fresh perspective

One of the hardest thoughts to bust when looking to overcome imposter syndrome is the cycle of negativity. Before you know it, one bad thought turns into several, and you’re crippled with anxiety. This is where it’s important to practise reframing these thoughts, trying to turn each one into a positive as they come up. Instead of wondering, ‘why did they hire me?’, think, ‘they hired me for a reason – they have faith in my ability to do the job.’ With enough practice, can encourage your brain to form a better habit.

Don’t take criticism to heart

If a colleague or your manager critiques your work, it’s not because it wasn’t good enough! While it may be hard to take at first, it’s not a criticism of your intelligence, or a reflection of how they see you as a person. In fact, they’re giving you this feedback because they believe in you and your ability. And, remember, feedback is completely normal in the first three-six months of a role. You want to do the best possible job for your team, so take it in your stride!

Know when to ask for help

When in doubt, it’s always better to ask for help. This is especially true when working remotely. If you suffer from imposter syndrome you may think that if you ask questions, those around you will discover you can’t do your job. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, everyone asks for help now and then – even the most capable workers – it’s a sign that you care about your work and want to get it right. Also, by clarifying, you don’t waste your own time having to go back and fix a mistake (which may have compounded your self-doubt further when you realised you made an error).

Body language talks

Even though your colleagues are only interacting with you through a screen, it’s important to concentrate on projecting strong and confident body language (even if you don’t feel it!). There’s a reason ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ is such a tried and true saying. Things to watch for are slouching shoulders, fidgeting in your seat and propping your head up with your hands. Instead, aim to look squarely into the camera and maintain eye contact and smile in the meeting. Watch others react to your confidence in kind.

Share your wins

Finally, it’s important to share with your colleagues when you’ve succeeded on a difficult task, or you’ve accomplished something challenging. As others celebrate your progress, you’ll be lifted up and feel so much more self-assured than before. There’s nothing like everyone congratulating you to make you feel like you belong on the team. So, go ahead and shoot a quick message to your Slack chat (complete with celebratory gifs!).

Remember, everyone feels self-doubt from time to time. It’s how we deal with challenging feelings like these that helps us grow. Even through times of hardship and difficulty, it’s important to remember our own mind can truly be our worst enemy, so chat to a trusted confidant if you’re feeling down. We’re all in this together!

About the author

Rebecca Siciliano, MD, Tiger Recruitment Rebecca is the managing director of Tiger Recruitment, a boutique recruitment firm headquartered in London. With over fifteen years’ experience, she is a trusted recruitment partner and advisor to some of London’s leading companies, from private equity firms and creative start-ups to tech innovators and professional services firms.


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