Imposter Syndrome – are you experienced?

Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon that happens to consultants at around the 8 – 14 month stage…

Whereas, they’ve been successful up until now, I’ve seen many start to fail and struggle to do the role. It’s made me think more and more as to why and has prompted me to write this blog post.

A new recruitment consultant can easily take 3 months to understand the role and another 3 months before it actually all starts to come together and work for them. So, a consultant with 6 months experience is now on their way. It’s also probably one of the reasons that as an industry, we have a high turnover – the job has a lot more to it than people realise, and this can cause issues further down the line if we’re not prepared for it!

Each element isn’t difficult, but as the role is comparable to 10 jobs in one, the organisational and time management required, makes it difficult to be successful.

From 6 months to a year, they are now gaining their own roles and clients, filling positions (whether temporary or permanent) without much supervision and very likely, loving their job. Placing people into jobs that they want is one of the most pleasing things you can do… in a work environment.

So now our consultant has a year of experience, is good at what they do and has some reference points, data and trends for their second year. It’s at this point as we close towards the 18 month stage, that it can start to fall apart – so why is this?

I believe there are three reasons for this to happen…

Self belief

This is probably the least impact of the 3, but I have seen it happen a number of times. All of a sudden, the consultant starts to believe that they can’t do the job anymore or that they are no good at it and that it was “just luck” that they were doing so well beforehand to quote Kate O’Neill, one of the Recruiting Gym coaches.

“They talk themselves into a negative state and without the right attitude, it doesn’t take long for the performance to drop considerably.”

It takes a very competent manager to spot the issue and to turn this situation around quickly. What is likely to happen, is for the consultant to start not enjoying their job at their current company and be open to opportunities that present themselves elsewhere

Becoming complacent

The job is very complicated initially, but of course a year later it becomes a lot easier and complacency starts to set in and therefore corners are cut. Maybe the consultant doesn’t spend the time to take a full job description and person specification or they ignore some of the qualifying questions required to establish an ideal candidate to match to the role. It’s easy to think that if you’ve been placing people successfully, then maybe you don’t have to work as hard to do moving forwards… but recruitment doesn’t work that way.

If you cut corners, then the process is likely to break down along the way somewhere.

Victims of their own success

The final reason is because the consultant becomes overloaded with work and the stress levels take over. They’ve been bringing in new clients and working with their existing clients and they will start to hit a saturation point. Working on too many positions at one time (apparently 8 permanent ‘hot jobs’ is the ideal number that big billers work on at any one time) means the consultant is placed under too much pressure and the workload will overcome them

So, an overworked consultant, spreading themselves to thin results in their performance taking a dive and one that happens, it’s hard to get the positivity required to make your way back up again


It’s up to line managers to be aware of these issues and make sure they monitor the consultant’s performance on an ongoing basis, thereby making sure that none of the above 3 issues occur.

We’ve had a Daily Workout Week focus on Imposter Syndrome, so why not join us in the Gym and explore what the experts say – here’s the course, why don’t you have a look around and see how it may help you and your team?

If you’re not a member of the Recruiting Gym just yet – click here! We offer 5 free courses to everybody who signs up and are always on hand to assist you with your Learning & Development journey!

About the Author

Angela Cripps is a globally experienced trainer, Managing Director of the Recruiting Gym, management consultant, executive coach, board advisor, mentor and performance specialist who has been working within the recruitment industry for over 30 years.  

Her aim is to make companies more successful and profitable through the development of their people and processes – with a current focus on APac companies. She has worked with over 150 SMEs throughout the world in 16 different countries and her LinkedIn recommendations are a testament to the impact she can have on a business.