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How I overcame the impostor syndrome


How I overcame the impostor syndrome

By Marie-Noëlle Morency, PR & Communications, Randstad Canada

impostor syndrome

Reflecting back on my career path, I cannot help but think about my mother. I heard her ask me the same question over and over again: "You are smart, educated, you can write, you can sing. I wish I had so many talents. Why are you so unsure about yourself?"

Simply put, I was afraid that someone, sooner or later, would realize that I'm not that smart. I'm not that talented. Yes, I was suffering from the ever annoying, relentless, wing-clipping impostor syndrome.

The impostor syndrome is of course not a new concept. It was discovered by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. People who suffer from it are deeply convinced that they are frauds, and tend to diminish their accomplishments. Everybody can fall into that trap, but studies show women are more affected by this than men, and this phenomenon is especially observed among many high-achieving women.

Escaping the spiral of self-doubt

No matter how good people would tell me I was, self-doubt was always sitting quietly right on my shoulder, waiting to shout in my ear and crush my enthusiasm on a whim. At the beginning of my career, I would not talk in meetings because I was scared my questions or comments would sound dumb or pointless. I would be reluctant to participate in brainstorming sessions because I was afraid I would not have any spectacular, jaw-dropping idea to share.


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But, I was good at what I was doing, so I accomplished things, led successful projects, made a difference in my workplace. I gained confidence over time. I also realized that to overcome the impostor syndrome, you must be the exact opposite of an impostor: you have to be real.

For a long while, I thought that to be successful in my career, I had to become that extraverted smooth talker who masters the art of working a room. We forge so many preconceived notions of what success is, that we forget who we are.

I'm not the one who will come up with a thousand clever taglines on the spot. I am the one who will regroup to gather her thoughts and come up with a well thought-out, creative and executable campaign. And it's fine. I'm not the scrupulous planner who sees every last detail of any project. I'm the strategic thinker who connects the dots and sees the big picture. And it's fine.

Owning who you are

  • Don't force yourself to be something that you are not.
  • Don't fake an answer if you don't know.

One of my bosses said to me once: being strategic is not about knowing the right answers, it's about asking the right questions. Take a break from talking, and listen, ask, challenge, probe, read, consult. Make mistakes and take risks. No matter what happens, you will gain precious insights, view things from a different point of view, be exposed to different realities, and open up to new ways of thinking, creative solutions and smart ideas along the way.

Take care of yourself. It's not about working harder, it's about working smarter, balancing it out, learning how to delegate and prioritize, keeping your body and soul healthy and recharged.

Take credit for your bright ideas and keep track of your accomplishments. Refrain from the temptation of using the words ''team effort'' every time you talk about your successes. Of course the contribution of all team members is important, but when you are the one who steered the team in the right direction, who found an innovative solution, or who made a brave decision, acknowledge it.

Know yourself, inside out, and define your personal brand. Summarize in one or two sentences what you are, what are your unique talents, how you want to contribute, where you want to go. If it's clear for you, it will be clear for everybody around. It will help you make the right choices that are in line with what you truly are and want.

This is how I overcame the impostor syndrome. And yes, my mother is very proud.

Keep this conversation going in our Linkedin group aptly named Women Shaping Business. You can register for it here today.

Want to hear from other female leaders from Randstad?

1. Let's Talk About Dress
2. I Work With Nerds and That's Okay







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Let’s talk about dress


Let’s talk about dress

Faith TullBy Faith Tull, senior vice-president, human resources, Randstad Canada

There comes a time in everyone’s career where they realize the need to step it up and step into a new wardrobe - and moreso a new mindset.

It might be when you’re working towards a promotion, it might be when you are looking for a new job, it might just be on some Wednesday morning and you look at yourself in the mirror and think “How do I want to present myself today?”

The moments of clarity are a combination of many things, it’s about your personal attitudes towards life, work, being a woman, being a leader …it’s all about defining who you are and your personal brand.

When you are a leader your personal brand sets the tone and gives examples to your kids, spouses, friends, colleagues, bosses, and your teams of how you want to be perceived better yet, it’s the template you want emulated.

Leaders of both sexes talk about the attitudes, personalities and style, yes, the style of our team. We discuss these things in interesting ways and the terms that come from it are about more than comments on someone’s clothing - they are statements about your ambition. Are they a fit, do they want to be taken seriously? Are they 100% in it, are they in it for the long haul? We don’t talk about clothes we talk about goals.

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As most of you already know how you present yourself isn’t just about clothing, hair, or accessories, it is also about presenting yourself with clarity , earnestness and confidence. Come to work every day as fresh as you can, come as prepared as you can and come as focused as you can.

"Someone who is confident, prepared and focused carries a freshness and style all their own."

Here are three things to consider when you’re getting dressed in the morning

  1. If you can rock the outfit in the clubs, you shouldn’t be rocking it at work… unless your work is at the clubs of course.  This is a general rule of thumb that I follow and I’ve coached others to follow
  2. Be prepared for the day.  Have your “To Do’s” mapped out and plan what are the high priority items you want to make sure you get done for the day.  It could be as simple as being on time for meetings, following up on messages from phone calls, emails, linkedin or twitter.  Plan to be present in all your interactions  for the day by remembering people’s names, responding appropriately on cues, show that you’re interested in what others are saying, most importantly make sure that you’re  engaged in conversations that will highlight your skills and competencies. 
  3. Finally, follow through on your commitments and if you going to miss a deadline, communicate early your sincere apologies and set a new delivery date soon after.

I’m so happy to be sharing my experiences with everyone and I’m most happy to be doing so with Alex Levey and the Randstad Marketing team on a new podcast, titled Women Shaping Business.

You can check out that podcast here and come back for more from me next week where we chat about how the work world has changed over the past 10-years.

A little bit about me, I’m a senior executive in human resources,  I believe I’ve seen it all over the past 20+ years but I’m sure I can still be surprised! I’m also a proud Jamaican born woman who is a single mother with a beautiful teenage daughter, so I’m certain I will connect with a lot of you out there.

What questions do you want answered? What topics should we explore? You can share them with me by emailing,

You can learn more about Randstad and the Women Shaping Business program on the WSB Linkedin group, register here today.

That’s all for now, thank your for reading! If you missed Monday's post, read about what Alex Levey loves working with nerds, here.

Before you go; think about this - what are ways your life has changed at work, how are things better, how are things worse? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @RandstadCanada.


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I work with nerds and that's a great thing


I work with nerds and that’s a good thing

Alex LeveyBy Alex Levey, marketing coordinator, Randstad Canada

Almost two years ago I started working with Randstad, I’ve loved it, it has given me the chance to grow as a marketer and a woman in business - I also get to work with the biggest bunch of nerds I’ve ever met.

I mean this as a term of endearment, honestly, my team is great - they work in digital marketing, they get a lot done - but I work with a bunch of guys and yes, they are nerds, unabashedly so.

I’m talking about this because it isn’t a negative, it could be so much worse. I work in a great environment and coming to work is a positive experience for me.

We’ve all heard stories about how things used to be, the Mad Men era, but workplace harassment is more pernicious than and grating than pat on  the bum from a boss - although if that happened it would be a horrifying violation - that’s something I have absolutely no fear of happening to me at work.

But it does happen to people, it happens to personal assistants of members of parliament, it happens at restaurants and it surely happens in executive offices to leaders even to powerful accomplished women - in cat calls, leering eyes and lecherous comments.


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Last year at Randstad’s Women Shaping Business event in Toronto, I heard from Kirstine Stewart the executive in charge of Twitter Canada and the former head of CBC Canada.

The attitudes that she had to confront in board rooms, on television and in the media as a result of her being a woman blew me away.

Check out our new podcast below:

Think about this, you have a powerful female leader, in her prime talking about the syndication and development of a national publicly funded media conglomerate and news writers talked about her shoes and hair. Shoes and hair, not the jobs and direction of a media institution that touches the lives of every Canadian.

So I work with nerds, I leave work some days and at 5:30 p.m. the guys might be recreating the fight scene from Star Wars Episode 3, I might hear;

“I was your brother! You were supposed to bring balance to the force! ... wookie sounds, Lightsaber noises ...”

But what I don’t hear is untoward comments about my dress, or body.

I’m respected, when I tell them to get something done they do it - sure I don’t get all of their jokes about Star Trek (I get about half of them), but when I hold a meeting they get into gear and do what I ask of them. Work place equality is a reality for many but there is still work to do.

Helping do that work and keep this conversation going is a new Linkedin group aptly named Women Shaping Business. You can register for it here today.

I’m also doing interviews and my nerdy team is producing a weekly podcast on the topics that mean so much to so many.

This week’s podcast is about the impact that appearance has on professional advancement. We conduct research annually gauging the perceptions and attitudes of female executives and over 90% of those polled said that appearance plays a huge part of getting ahead.

On this weeks podcast I speak with the senior vice president of human resources for Randstad Canada, Faith Tull. She’s awesome, we’ll be sharing the inaugural podcast on Wednesday, I can’t wait for you all to hear it.

If you have any topics you want covered, or have any questions about working with a team of guys or in the world of work in general you can contact me at You can also reach out to me on Twitter @RandstadCanada.

Next week we’ll be speaking about how the world of work has changed over the past 10-years I hope you come back for more. 

Thank you and have a great week! 

Learn more about all of this on these links;, here is a Globe and Mail article about the "Beauty Premium" that exists. 

Read our next Women Shaping Business blog post, by Faith Tull, titled Let's Talk About Dress, here. 



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How Apple's iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch benefit Canada's jobs market


Surfing in Hawaii resized 600

Why the Apple 6, and the Apple Watch Matter for Employment    

Whether you ride technological trends like a surfer hitting the next biggest wave, or just need a device to call your mum the true impacts of gadgets and jewellery like Apple’s new accessories is made of innovation and jobs.

The now discontinued iPod Classic, back in its 5 gig, 1,000 song days revolutionized the MP3 player market; it positioned Apple to dominate a market segment and prepared us for the ubiquity of smartphones.

Today we have IOS, Android, Pebble, Chrome, yes, we’ve got AppleOS and Windows  as well, but there are literally hundreds of other OS’s kicking around. Each with its speciality, each with its niche as well as advantages and disadvantages – but behind each of those core systems is either a programmer or a team of programmers building this base system on which other tools are built.

The operating systems running these new phones are our way to access the information technology infrastructure of the future. Infrastructure governments are building, that employ millions of people. Smart phones have incentivized the advancement of digital communications networks, think broadband, thing 4G, what's next? What's faster, who is going to build it in your community?

What salary should you expect?

Cellphone speed drives infrastructure development 

This speed is building a democratization of the digital entertainment market. Whether it is through your phone, or through your computer we’re watching more media on the small screen than the TV.

That means that more companies are playing roles in the development maintenance and curation of entertainment content - you have more say.

Hidden again behind those systems is and algorithms that choose our Netflix queue for us are again more developments and systems analysts, behavioural psychologists and more.  

With Apple Pay, or Google Wallet, even Pay Pal, or Square, or Shopify’s Point of Sale System, there is another layer of digital democratization of the tools of retail trade. You cash register is an iPad with a little box attached to it, or a wire running into a computer into a WiFi connected cash tray that tracks right back into your business account.

Yes, these devices are flashy, yes they are expensive, but what they are supporting and what the consumer culture around them supports are the knowledge jobs of the future and the further investment in future disruptive technologies that will continue to dramatically change the way businesses do business.

In a world where cars drive themselves and we track out biometrics with the shirts on our back what side of the employment picture are you on? Are you afraid of the looming technological singularity or are you seeing ways to take further advantage of it?

I want to hear what you think, take this short survey and tell me if you are afraid of losing your job to the technology of the future.


Will Technology Take Your Career?  Take the survey and tell us.





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Personal branding infographic: Canadian's want to do what they love!


Heart over reason: Canadians value relationships and intuition when it comes to managing their careers. 

As part of its Find a job that fits you campaign, leading up to the annual National Career Day, Randstad Canada created an online survey on career management and personal branding.
Over 500 respondents answered, and here are the main findings!

Randstad Canada

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Alberta's hottest job market : Calgary or Edmonton?


Is Edmonton going to surpass Calgary's growth?

Over the past few months, we've covered a lot about Calgary's booming employee market. 

But a recent article in the Calgary herald put focus Alberta's more Northern population centre, Edmonton.

"There are 877,926 Edmontonians, according to the city’s 2014 census released Friday. While that remains a far cry from Calgary’s nearly 1.2 million, the capital’s two-year growth rate of 7.4 per cent is greater than Stampede City’s 6.7 per cent."

The truth of the matter is both cities are growing at an incredbile rate.

Compared to the rest of Canada, Calgary and Edmonton are on growth spurts, 50,000 or 80,000 new residents a year is amazing - Ottawa has a growth rate of about 2 %, meaning Calgary and Edmonton are tripling or quadrupling Ottawa's population growth

While Calgary has seen amazing growth it isn't an inexpensive place to live. Property values in Calgary have risen over the years and while the cost of a home in Calgary is still lower than Toronto or Vancouver, Edmonton is an easier market to enter for new job hunters looking to work in the west.


A house in Edmonton could cost you almost $100,000 less than in Calgary. While salaries in Edmonton are generally comparable to those in Edmonton.



Regardless of the costs of housing in Calgary it does have one thing on Edmonton in the winter it is more than 5 degrees warmer than its more Northern cousin.

To date, Calgary has the hottest job market in Canada - competition for professionals is high. 

Recruting in both markets has its opportunities and challenges. If you are looking for team members in either city, we can help you find leading talent.

Learn more about recruiting in this important market, find out how to compete against Alberta's biggest players and recruit the right people for your team on the Calgary Recruitment Webinar, Recruiting Calgary's Most Wanted.



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3 Keys to staying ahead of the curve


Robot jobsToday Randstad released data from a survey that shows Canadian's fear that they'll lose their jobs to automation, computerization and algorithms.

Whether you work in IT, mining, warehousing or logistics or even law, medicine and journalism the fear of losing your job to oncoming technologies is real, if not rational and well founded in fact.

The release states that 32 % of Canadians fear losing their jobs to technology in coming years. Read more here.

Labour has constantly been displaced by advances in labour saving technologies. The first shovel change the way we dug holes, the first backhoe revolutionized ditches and new drilling technologies have replaced dynamite as a way to dig tunnels.

The same has happened in farmers’ fields, factories, call centers and head offices. Advances in technology and the streamlining of work has changed labour dynamics and not always in ways that on the face value have a general benefit to society.

Jobs have shifted from manual production to automation and the machine learning and programming that allow one complex set of machines to do the work of 100 people on a factory floor. It may still take a team of engineers to make those machines work, but overall it means fewer jobs on the factory floor, but may be not overall.

Technicians will still need to work on the machines, as production floors get larger and produce more product there will a requirement for increased infrastructure supporting these shipping and production networks to make that happen. In the coming years we will all compete for jobs not just against one another, but technology and advancement itself.

How can employees stay ahead of the curve? Here are 3 tips to avoid being made redundant by new technologies.

1. Take advantage of internal and external training programs: If your workplace is offering advance training, or certifications in your line of work, volunteer for them. Federal and local government programs are available for funding advanced training; research what your workplace is offering and apply or ask for the opportunity.

2. Stay engaged in industry innovations: Whether it is through reading a trade publication, or attending industry conferences you can see what innovations are on the rise. This can help you direct what training or career shifts you may need to address in the future.

3. Be first to introduce new tools, systems or processes: If you know about innovations first, you can introduce them to your organization. Taking advantage of innovations can put you in a leadership position, bring added value to your work help maintain your role’s security.

If you want to read more about this, or get into contact with Randstad Canada’s media team for comment, visit, our news section here.

How are you staying ahead of the curve, let us on know Twitter @RandstadCanada

Are you looking for a new opportunity? Join us on National Career Day at anyone of our branches across the country. Thousands of jobs are available, get interviewed in branches on September 10, 2014.


National Career Day


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5 Things you learned in grade school you still use today


Back to school

Whether it was your years of arriving by school bus to the playground and with the ringing of a bell at 8:30 a.m. or your hard work on arts and crafts (with an autonomy unforeseen in high school) your years in elementary school were well served. 

It taught you the finer points of dress, the value of a good packed lunch and these five imporant things that you use to this day:

Getting up in the morning

Getting up in the morning is a big deal, sometimes it makes all of the difference in your career.

The job you do today is, and the one you look for on your job search is what you’ve trained for but if you can't get up and ready in the morning all is for not. Think about what you learned by getting up out of bed, taking off your Star Wars PJs and going off to elementary school.

You learned how to wake up! You got out of the house without a $5 a day coffee habit, in some cases you even packed your own lunch.

Daily commute

For those who are fortunate enough, elementary school involves a five to fifteen minute walk to school, typically on side streets with friends, discussing Pokemon or Poggs at some length. Your commute can be long and hard and that grind gets to you - the daily commute teaches the value of proximity. 

This is repeated on the way home.

For others, we waited for a bus. It was crowded, bumpy, sometimes it smelled bad, but you get where you are going and if you are lucky you’ve got a friend with you.

In cities not just in Canada, but across the industrialized world, the transit experience is not unlike a grade five school bus and you learned how to do it as a child.

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Presentation skills

In elementary school we get our first hands at presentations. I’m still sore about my grade five presentation on the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s getting short shrift to a contemporary’s piece on Highland Dancing. Sure, my 42 minute presentation included liberal portions of MLK’s I Have A Dream, and no I didn’t dance during my presentation but I think I deserved an A+, I had speaking notes!

I lost marks for going over time you see. This is a skill we all need to develop. It takes time and practice to prepare for speaking to a group, even when you think you know the topic remembering to take your time to really practice and prepare is important.

Group work. Fun!

Later in grade six or seven, you are introduced to group work – which will in later years becomes your job and career.

You are given a project, with some limited direction and as a team you are to construct a presentation on a world event. You learn how to delegate tasks, how to follow up with your co-workers and in some cases drag them through the finish line to ensure you get a good grade.

These little negotiations that are made on these projects prepare you for the team work we do everyday in the professional world. 

Personal direction

Of course it doesn’t end there, you then get asked, “Why do you want to be when you grow up?” a lot of people are still asking that.

If you aren’t completely sure, or you want a little help later in the game finding your career path, take our personal branding survey and enter to win a $300 VISA gift card. The survey will teach you  a lot about how to market yourself and who to reach out to for career guidance.

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Fostering your Employee brand: Part 2




Here are three more keys to building a positive, engaged personal brand. Read the first two and the introduction to this piece, in Fostering your "employee brand": Part 1.

Get the message out

The single most important way of developing your brand is to be seen in person (in a positive light of course).  If you are a jobseeker, networking is an important way to sell yourself, but for those currently employed, internal networking is just as important. Make going out and meeting the rest of the business an objective in itself.

Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers are the most important marketing vehicle you've got; try to continually find ways to nurture your network of colleagues. What they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand.

Additionally, you can set yourself apart by regularly contributing and providing added value on sites such as LinkedIn, writing blogs, using Twitter. Your aim is to be known in a positive light as an expert on a particular topic.  It’s not about being online 24/7 for the sake of it; it’s about adding value to others through all of your communications. 

Have you built your personal brand? Do you have your career path mapped out? Answer these questions and more, in our career path survey and be entered to win 1 of 11 cash prizes. Enter our survey here now.

4. Radiate power and leadership

One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. It's no different in the workplace. If, for example, your colleagues are having a hard time organizing productive meetings, volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You'll not only be contributing to the team, but you’ll have the opportunity to determine what will go on and off the agenda. Most importantly, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, you must act like a credible leader.

5. Be consistent

Brand building doesn’t happen overnight and it needs to be consistent.  When you're promoting your brand, remember that everything you do - and everything you choose not to do - communicates the value and character of your brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations and emails to the way you conduct business in a meeting. It’s all part of a larger message that you are sending about your brand.

Ultimately, you are in charge of your brand and there is no single path to success. And while there is no one right way to create and promote your individual brand, these tips will set you on the right path to becoming more attractive to leading employers who are eager to find and retain not just great candidates, but also inspirational employees, that they will be clamouring to work with.

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Job hunters: What's your Employee Brand?


TC blog2

Have you built your personal brand? Your career path is integral to building your personal brand. Take our survey, learn about yourself and begin to build your personal brand. Take our career path survey and be entered to win 1 of 11 cash prizes. Take our survey here now.

Fostering your “employee brand”: Part 1

Starting today you are a brand.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We all have a chance to stand out - to learn, and to improve our skills - everyone has a chance to better their individual “brand”. It's time to take a lesson from the big brands, in how to market ourselves effectively. 

To be specific, your personal brand is the collection of values, experiences and associations that people attach to you.  In short, it’s what peers and associates think about when they hear your name mentioned. It is what they'll say about you if they are called on a reference check.

We are all individuals, but unless we have a positive personal brand we will be invisible both to existing colleagues and to search executives, looking for the next bright star to fill a vacancy. We have to showcase what makes us special.  What are we famous for now?  What do we want to be famous for in the future?

Having a positive personal brand is also important to your team, your department and the wider organization.  You are the figurehead, the leader, and the main representative to the rest of the business. It is about your ability to build a personal brand which transcends your current job title and makes you an attractive prospect for internal promotion and to external companies.


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So how can you develop the kind of personal brand that leading employers want to recruit and retain? Here are some useful tips: 

1. Research your brand and determine what makes you different

Start by figuring out what your brand currently is, and where it needs to be.  Ask yourself: “What kind of employee am I?” and “What do I want to be known for?” 

Identify the qualities or characteristics that separate you from your competitors -- or your colleagues. What have you done lately -- this week -- to make yourself stand out? What would your past or present colleagues or customers say is your greatest and clearest strength?

Start thinking like a brand manager, ask yourself: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it.

2. Enhance your brand

There's no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your brand. Sign up for an extra project within your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills -- or work on new ones. Or, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they'll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are.

Try teaching a class at a community college, or in your own company. Try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper or try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop. You’ll get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you.

Part two will be released next Monday, in the mean time, take our survey and enter our personal branding survey.

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