Imposter syndrome stands in the way of people aiming for a ‘portfolio career’

A man holding a mask away from his face to show how imposter syndrome is holding back people wanting portfolio careers.A new report from the UK’s Department for Education claims that over half of adults in England (52 percent) would consider developing a portfolio career if they had more confidence in their own abilities. The figure rises to 71 percent for those working in HR, and 45 percent of workers would do so if they suffered less from so-called imposter syndrome. The research comes as the Department for Education launched a new campaign earlier this year calling for skilled workers to pass on their valuable experience by teaching in further education (FE). The campaign promotes the flexibility of teaching part-time in FE, enabling industry professionals to ‘change lives without changing careers’ by passing on their work-based skills and knowledge to the next generation of learners in their field alongside their current job.

Given 57 percent of workers experience imposter syndrome in the workplace, more prevalent amongst those in HR as this figure rises to 76 percent, the campaign aims to inspire confidence in workers in industries such as engineering, construction, accountancy, digital and healthcare. It looks to do this by highlighting that many workers already have what it takes to teach in FE given the value and transferability of their existing industry experience and skills. With full-time, part-time and ad-hoc roles available, and no academic degree or prior teaching qualifications needed to get started, teaching in FE provides a way to develop a portfolio career that many skilled industry workers don’t realise they’re already qualified to jump straight into.

The report claims that it is no surprise that many want to develop a portfolio career given the benefits at hand and a third (29 percent) of those in England would already consider taking up a part-time teaching role in FE. Over a quarter (26 percent) identified making some extra money as the top benefit of having a portfolio career in addition to growing one’s skills (20 percent) and the freedom to work flexible hours (17 percent) – all of which are on offer within the multitude of roles currently available as a teacher in further education.

While many see the benefits of a portfolio career, imposter syndrome still plagues employees as a third of industry professionals claim that imposter syndrome has prevented them from taking up new opportunities. The FE Teacher Recruitment Campaign is looking to empower industry workers to overcome these barriers by sharing the stories of industry professionals that have taken their practical ‘real world’ experience from the workplace and applied these in learning environments, giving inspiring, relevant and practical context to students.

Commenting on the new research, Helen Tupper said: “The research confirms that many people within England are keen to develop a portfolio career, but many are held back by their own imposter syndrome. Portfolio careers create a lot of potential for people’s development and so many already possess the skills they need to get started. Teaching in further education is a great way you can share the skills you have gained in industry and enable you to take on a new challenge without changing your career. We don’t want confidence gremlins to get in the way of our growth! I encourage everyone to challenge their inner imposter and see what opportunities are out there.”

Discussing imposter syndrome, Helen shares her top tips on how to tackle this in the workplace, enabling you to go after a portfolio career. She comments, “Imposter syndrome occurs when our doubts get in the way of our development. It makes us feel insecure about our work and our worth. Because our brains are drawn to the negative, these stories we tell ourselves cycle around our minds becoming bigger barriers to our success and happiness at work. The good news is that we can cage these gremlins and silence the voice that’s holding us back.

Here’s how:

1. Be happy to help – when we help other people, we experience something called a ‘helper’s high’. A chemical reaction happens in our brains that gives us a boost. We feel useful and valuable and it’s these sorts of feelings we need to drown out the doubts. You could then go after a portfolio career, such as teaching in further education alongside your job in industry. By sharing your existing skills and real-world experience with students, this ‘helper’s high’ can be replicated whilst helping to shape the next generation of workers in your industry – win-win!

2. Spot your successes – reflecting at the end of every day on what work you’ve done well can help you to become more conscious about the positive impact you’re making Successes don’t have to be supersized, it’s often the small things that go well that we don’t take time to see. Write them down so you can reflect on them later

3. At your best – ask other people that you work with ‘when do you see me at my best?’. This question will help people share information about the benefit you bring to them and the wider team that you’re working in. Often, when it’s hard to see what we’re doing well, other people can shine a spotlight on it for us. Your skills are more valuable than you realise, and once you know your strengths, you can explore ways to develop a portfolio career and apply your existing skillset to exciting new opportunities