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Unmasking the Imposter: Empowering Women to Lean into Success

Posted May 20, 2024

Imposter syndrome, is a widely researched phenomenon and is a common experience for professionals at varying points in their careers, affecting our self-perception and professional growth.

Picture this scenario: you have tirelessly worked towards your objectives, achieving significant milestones and securing your ideal position. Externally, everything appears perfect. However, internally, you wrestle with doubts about your competence, despite external affirmations of your capabilities. What makes this worse is that, The International Journal of Behavioural Science reveals that unfortunately, approximately 70% of individuals encounter imposter syndrome at some point, highlighting its prevalence.

A primary catalyst for imposter syndrome is often, the toxic habit of comparison. In an era dominated by social media, it is all too easy to view others curated successes and question your own accomplishments or progress. Research indicates that, historically women, in particular, were more susceptible to imposter syndrome, frequently attributing their achievements to external factors rather than recognising their own skills, efforts, and successes. That being said, more recent studies indicate that it affects both men and women nearly equally, although they may experience it differently due to social and cultural factors.

With this in mind, what can you do to combat the overwhelming and grossly unwelcome feeling that is imposter syndrome?

Acknowledging Success

As someone in their late twenties, I have come to realise the importance of consciously acknowledging and celebrating personal achievements, regardless of their scale. Each success, no matter how modest, contributes significantly to our overall growth and self-perception. Finding time in each day to acknowledge successes, can be one of the ways that you can begin to overcome imposter syndrome. I myself have struggled in the past, when it comes to talking openly about successes, as I’ve been consumed with anxiety that it would be considered ‘bragging’, when in reality, sharing successes no matter how large or small can leave you feeling both recognised and empowered.

The Power of Vulnerability

Discussing imposter syndrome can be intimidating, yet there is strength in vulnerability. I have found comfort in sharing my experiences with friends, family, and colleagues. Openness often reveals that many share similar challenges, making vulnerability an invaluable tool for fostering connections and personal development. As humans, we can often be guilty of making decisions based on assumptions. By allowing yourself to be more vulnerable, to can begin gain much more exposure and insight of others experiences and challenges.

Fostering Self-Compassion

Developing self-compassion is an ongoing endeavour. In my journey, I am learning to dispel the myth of perfection and embrace mistakes as vital learning opportunities. By nature, I can be very hard on myself, and have worked tirelessly over the last couple of years avoid feelings and urges to leave on a high, rather than embracing mistakes and using them to better myself. It’s also key to strive to extend the same kindness and understanding to myself that I would offer others.

Building a Supportive Network

Building and maintaining a supportive professional and personal network is vital in overcoming imposter syndrome. This network should include mentors, peers, and friends who can provide honest feedback, encouragement, and share their own experiences with imposter feelings. By seeing how others have navigated similar challenges, you can gain perspective on individuals experiences and feel less isolated in future struggles. Networking groups, professional associations, and social media platforms can be excellent resources for building these connections.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Developing a growth mindset, is particularly beneficial for combatting imposter syndrome. This involves shifting focus from proving competence to developing it. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and understand that effort and learning are part of the journey to mastery. By valuing growth over perfection, you can more easily recognise your progress and feel less like imposter.

Setting Realistic Expectations and Boundaries

We often face societal pressures to excel in multiple roles, which can exacerbate feelings of imposter syndrome. It’s important to set realistic expectations for oneself and establish clear boundaries. This might mean saying no to additional responsibilities when you’re already stretched thin or setting aside time for self-care and personal development. Recognising that you cannot be everything to everyone is a crucial step in overcoming imposter feelings.

Practicing Self-Affirmation

Positive Self-Talk Self-affirmation practices can be powerful tools in combating negative thoughts and imposter syndrome. This involves regularly reminding oneself of personal strengths, achievements, and unique qualities. Positive self-talk helps in reframing negative thoughts that contribute to feelings of being an imposter. Instead of thinking, “I don’t belong here,” one might reframe this as, “I was chosen for my skills and I bring a unique perspective.”

Seeking Professional Guidance

Sometimes, the most effective strategy in overcoming imposter syndrome is seeking professional guidance. This can include talking to a mentor, a career coach, or a therapist who specialises in career-related challenges. These professionals can provide personalised strategies and support to help women understand and navigate their imposter feelings.

I recognise that overcoming imposter syndrome is not a one-time event but a continuous process of self-discovery and personal development. It’s about stepping into your power, recognising your worth, and understanding that your voice and contributions are valid and needed. Through supportive networks, a growth mindset, realistic expectations, positive self-talk, and professional guidance, women can not only overcome imposter syndrome but also thrive in their personal and professional lives.

If you have a talent project or require support creating your employer value proposition and talent programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click here to book a meeting with Mollie.


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Future-proofing Cyber Security & Engineering Capabilities

Posted May 13, 2024

Working in partnership with a leading technology-led defence and security solutions company, we successfully helped our client by sourcing, assessing and placing a diverse talent pool into their bespoke cyber security 6-month training programme. The project resulted in the onboarding of a cohort individuals, providing them with long term career prospects and enabling our client to futureproof their cyber security and engineering capabilities.

What was the challenge?

Exploring the criticality of establishing bespoke training initiatives and programmes to contribute to a sustainable and resilient cybersecurity ecosystem. The demand for cybersecurity professionals has surged in recent years, driven by the abundance of digital technologies, and the increasing frequency of cyber threats. As organisations race to fortify their defences against cyber threats, the scarcity of qualified cybersecurity talent has emerged as a bottleneck, threatening the very foundations of digital resilience.

What was the ask?

The initiative encompassed the attraction, recruitment, assessment, and onboarding of 15 individuals with diverse backgrounds and a passion for cybersecurity. These individuals then had to undergo a tailored six-month training program within their initial 12 months of employment. Following the training programme, individuals were aligned with national security projects within Cyber Engineering or Vulnerability Research capabilities. This program was designed to cater to a diverse pool of participants, including career returners, recent graduates, school leavers, and career changers.

What were the actions?

  • Established a comprehensive project planning framework led by a committed project owner and a dedicated delivery team
  • Orchestrated a highly effective marketing campaign comprising of podcasts, blogs, employee interviews, and infographics
  • Collaborated and partnered with key organisations and educational institutions to facilitate diversification efforts
  • Regularly conducted reporting on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) initiatives
  • Successfully implemented and maintained a technical assessment platform
  • Provided support and guidance around security clearance eligibility
  • Concluded with a thorough project review report covering output analysis
  • Generated comprehensive market insights encompassing diversity, equity, and inclusion (ED&I), remuneration, geographical considerations, and educational qualifications

What were the outputs?

  • Effectively sourced, assessed and placed 15 qualified candidates in specified locations within 4 months
  • 100% of responsive individuals answered that they found the recruitment process positive, or very positive
  • Created an extensive talent pool for future cohorts
  • Over 20% of submissions identified as female – We helped create ED&I initiatives to support future recruitment
  • 95% offer acceptance rate

Client Feedback

We wanted to offer long-term careers to high-potential individuals, who will become tomorrow’s tech leads and SMEs. With the support and expertise from Sanderson Government & Defence we have successfully recruited 15 candidates onto this year’s programme with a range of skillsets and capabilities, all of whom will have the opportunity to develop and achieve within our organisation. We have looked for candidates from outside the existing community, including those from non-traditional backgrounds with self-taught skills.

The Sanderson Government & Defence team are highly engaged, responsive and proactive in their approach to recruitment. They supported with technical assessment platforms, and providing support for the on-boarding of new starters. Sanderson have also provided useful data addressing things like equity, diversity and inclusion of applicants.”

Contact our specialist team to find out more

Mollie Chamberlain – Head of Projects, Government & Defence

+44 7710 280 877

[email protected]

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Championing ED&I within the defence sector

Posted February 13, 2024

We are thrilled to announce our 2024 partnership with Women Empowering Defence.

Women Empowering Defence (WED) stands as a beacon of solidarity and empowerment. They are a collective force uniting individuals across the Defence and Security Sector, with a shared mission to champion gender equality and celebrate the diverse achievements of women in the defence sector.

The growth of this community speaks volumes to the value it’s adding to Defence sector and highlights just how much positive change was needed as the industry continues to break down barriers. At Sanderson Government & Defence, our dedication to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is ingrained into our organisational culture and so we are delighted to be one of WED’s partners for 2024.

WED will become a core pillar of our positioning in the marketplace, and a key partner in our mission to support far greater gender diversity within the government and defence sector. Our Head of Projects, Mollie Chamberlain with be driving this partnership forward throughout the course of 2024 as our ambassador.

Commenting on the partnership Mollie confirmed; “We are excited for the year ahead and are looking forward to being part of a community that is empowering and influencing change within the defence sector.”

You can find out more about our partnership with WED here.