Returning to Work after extended leave – knocking imposter syndrome on the head.


Returning to Work after extended leave – knocking imposter syndrome on the head.


People take extended leave for many reasons – maternity leave, caring for family members, illness, mental health – a myriad of reasons.  Returning to work can be daunting especially if you work in a rapidly changing industry – just stepping back into a job can put you outside of your comfort zone.

Prepare yourself mentally!

Remember that, although it may seem like it, very few of us have had smooth-sailing and perfect work histories. We are humans and not just resources. Don’t try to cover up in your resume – state clearly and simply what you have been doing and what you can offer now.

While there is a lot of talk and discussion about juggling work, home, parenthood and elderly parents we sometimes forget the very real “imposter syndrome”. This is when people have an inability to recognise their skills, experience and accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” This can happen easily when out of practice.

I think most of us can recognise this feeling but hide this secret thought and just hope no one finds out. Studies suggest 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their career.

What we have found happens occasionally in an interview is an unconscious sabotage, so candidates don’t express themselves in a manner which shows their level of professionalism and experience.

When a role is offered to the candidate they can find reason not to take the job – too far to travel, not enough money, child care problems all of which had been discussed and agreed to prior to the initial interview.

We have just placed a woman returning to work after extended leave. While the staff in the company are very friendly and supportive it has been an extremely anxious time for the candidate. Apart from the logistics of childcare, adjusting the wardrobe and coordinating new family schedules with her partner, all the other above issues came up.

In recognising this very real fear we were able to reassure, support and advise her so her commencement with the company was a little less nerve racking.  We fully expect this capable and experienced person to really shine once she settles in.

You need to make sure you have a strong support network around you, which includes, family, friends and the right recruitment company. You know, the recruitment company that wants you to succeed as much as you do.