21 September 2015

I am not qualified!

There is nothing like being a new-starter in an organisation when it comes to reinforcing your own weaknesses. My colleague Major spoke recently about Imposter Syndrome which has been something on my mind recently.

I am by nature a self-assured person. It’s actually listed in my top ten strengths according to the Clifton Strengthsfinder but that doesn’t mean I never catch myself wondering “am I qualified to be here”. Starting a new role, as I did a fortnight ago, amongst a team of people who have an average of 5 years experience in similar roles in the organisation, does nothing to help dispel that feeling.

So how do I deal with that?

The first thing to do is acknowledge to myself that I do deserve to be here. I passed an interview and I have an impressive record both previously in this company and in other roles in the past. What I don’t have are a very specific set of skills and domain specific knowledge that everyone else has developed during their time in this role.

The second thing to do is identify what the actual gaps are: what skills do I need to develop to match my peers, what knowledge gaps do I have and how can I address them? - In my case it’s specifically knowledge of enterprise-level network devices, Microsoft Windows and I’m a little rusty on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and some of it’s associated products.

None of these things are massive deficiencies - yes, I don’t know them as well as some other people in my team, but I have three things in my favour:

  1. I’m surrounded by people who know and I can learn from.
  2. I am expected to spend a large portion of the first 90 days learning.
  3. I have an idea what I don’t know and a plan to fix it.

The third thing to acknowledge is that while you may have knowledge gaps compared to your peers, the same will be true in reverse. There may be skills or experience that you have developed outside that you can bring to the role that your peers have not been able to. Embrace that and try to incorporate it in your team skills - then you won’t feel like the learning period is a one-way process.

I’m got a reasonable amount of learning to do before Christmas, but hey, learning’s fun right?

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