Randstad Canada HR Blog

How I overcame the impostor syndrome

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

How I overcame the impostor syndrome

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


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.

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Tags: Marie-Noelle Morency

The unique journey of a passionate businesswoman and young entrepreneur – Laurie Compartino, Market Manager, Randstad Canada

Posted by Marie-Noelle M on Tue, Oct 09, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

Laurie Compartino, Market Manager for Randstad Canada, was recently awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the year award by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Quebec. Her nomination and win was in the Administration and Management category.

describe the imageThis recognition did not happen by chance. Her career path may be uncommon but it is nonetheless remarkable. Motivated by a strong interest in management and business development, Compartino’s studies shifted from kinesiology to business administration in 2004. Her determination and strong understanding of business challenges allowed her to climb the corporate ladder quickly.  Compartino worked for six years at Energy Cardio before joining Randstad Canada, the country’s leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services. As a market manager, she has quickly established herself by bringing out the best in her team and encouraging them to surpass themselves.

A question of balance

Is it possible to find a balance between work and family obligations? According to a recent Randstad Canada survey which focuses on women in leadership, the majority of Canadian women believe achieving a fine balance between work and family remains the biggest task for women to overcome in their career, with three in five women reporting this to be the case.

In order to find a balance between her obligations, Compartino says she sets aside time for her husband and daughters.   “Finding a balance is a constant challenge, but my husband has always been very supportive. It is essential to be disciplined and organized and to spend quality time with your family without constantly bringing up work. You have to learn to leave work behind,” says Compartino.


Are management positions more accessible to women?

The study reports that while more than half of women in management positions today feel that there is more opportunity for women to advance to senior ranks within their companies ahead, nearly half feel there is no more opportunity today than there was even five years ago.

Compartino agrees. “We are heading in the right direction, but there’s still some work to be done. I feel that female leaders have to work a little harder than their male counterparts to earn the trust of business partners,” she says.

“With the pressure from the markets, global competition and the difficulty employers have in finding qualified employees, businesses will have an increasing need for female leaders. However, in order for this to happen, they will have to adapt and become a lot more flexible,” she adds.

The survey also indicates that more than three in five of those polled (65%) felt that more flexible working arrangements like flex time and telecommuting would help to provide more opportunities for women to reach and succeed in managerial and executive positions.  More than half of those polled (52 per cent) felt that organizations across Canada need to put a stronger emphasis on diversity in the managerial and executive ranks.

“My recommendation to young women who wish to evolve in the world of business is to have faith in their capacities, and to be able to step back and make informed decisions as well as effective action plans. Most importantly, it’s very important to celebrate your successes and not to be afraid to share your success with others in order to inspire them. You have to show how women can positively contribute to the growth of companies,” she concludes.


To learn more about Laurie Compartino’s nomination:

To read the Women in Leadership study:

Tags: Marie-Noelle Morency

Results of Randstad women in leadership survey not surprising, but hurdles can be successfully leaped.

Posted by Marie-Noelle M on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

women in leadershipA national Randstad Canada survey, Women in Leadership, of 500 female managers and executives reveals that while female leaders feel progress has been made, there remains much to be done. Their perceptions of obstacles – including outdated stereotypes about female managers, lack of mentoring and lack of workplace accommodation for family – are reinforced by other research.

We have come a long way – in 1980, women earned 60.2% of men’s wages and accounted for 35% of the workforce. Now, women earn 81% of men’s wages and women make up 46.4 % of the US labour force. When all factors are held constant – education, years of experience and so on, women still earn less than men.  A report released recently  by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute called DiversityLeads also shows that women are significantly under-represented in the senior most positions in virtually every sector. Similar to the perceptions noted in Randstad Canada’s survery, it also confirms that notions of leadership are highly gendered  and stereotypes persist. Women are less likely to promote themselves and their achievements. When they are successful, they are more likely to credit the team or circumstance and when they fail, they are more likely to blame themselves. Ironically, when women exhibit characteristics which are associated with leadership – confidence, self-reliance, dominance, self-promotion – they may face a backlash and criticism.  They are held to a higher standard of “likeability” than men.  

In spite of these challenges, however, we see women rising to the top in greater numbers than ever before. The Diversity Institute’s profiles of successful women reveal strategies that can help advance other women. Some of the tips include:

- Focus on results. There is no substitute for performance.

- Take a hard cold and objective look at your strengths and weaknesses. Capitalize on the strengths, address the gaps.

- Develop and nurture networks. Be sure you are known and have access to the “unspoken rules”

- Find a mentor, be a mentor. Both are great ways to learn.

- “Display your excellence.” Many women do not promote their accomplishments. You cannot assume because you work hard that people know what you do.

- Make demands and learn to negotiate. Lots of research indicates that men are more likely to ask for what they think they deserve.

- Be an ally not a bystander. The challenges experienced by women are shared by others – visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and different sexual orientations – standup for others and they will stand up for you.

- Take risks but judge how far to “push the envelope” and pick your battles.


By Wendy Cukier, Vice President Research and Innovation, Ryerson University and Founder, Ryerson's Diversity Institute 

Tags: Marie-Noelle Morency

Canadian women in management: leading with the heart!

Posted by Marie-Noelle M on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

describe the imageA recent Randstad survey, with a sample of more than 500 Canadian women in management positions, highlights perceptions that may be surprising to many of us, or spark pride, but may also give precious hints on the challenges women are facing. The main source of motivation for women is personal: they want to progress because they are passionate and want to accomplish themselves, and they want to communicate that passion around them, in their daily lives. They perceive that having a family has a bigger impact on their career than their spouses’ career. More than half of the respondents feel that it is as difficult (or even more difficult) now, than it was in the past , to meet the demands of both their work and family obligations. The majority also believe that their male colleagues have easier access to the best and most interesting projects or positions, and that they are not as well paid as men! Are Canadian women neglecting this aspect in their own negotiations, considering that compensation is a less important factor motivating their efforts to progress in their careers? Are these results reflective of the tendency for women, as it was documented by the Catalyst Group, to undermine their own accomplishments? Do women need more coaching and mentoring in order to bridge that gap? Maybe they already have all the tools they need to make it happen?

In Quebec

In Quebec, we observe slight differences in terms of perception: Quebec is the only province where women don’t have, in majority, the feeling of having to take on all of the burden of the tasks related to their family life, on top of their professional obligations. Women in Quebec are the ones who seem to have the least obstacles to overcome. Do they perceive they receive more collaboration from their spouse than elsewhere in Canada? Are male executives in Quebec more familiar with their spouses’ situation, and therefore more flexible ? Has the government influenced that perception because of some of the measures taken? Lots of questions that can generate lots of discussion!!

More than anywhere else in the country, Quebec women feel they can influence and make important decisions at work. They perceive a smaller gap in terms of compensation or career opportunities between man and women, and don’t rely on mentoring programs to move forward.  Female leaders in Quebec perceive themselves as autonomous, in charge of their own destiny, but maybe they need to promote themselves even more, and put more emphasis on developing key relationships to help them advance in their careers. Current studies show that these factors are at play and influence the progression of women to higher positions.

Do women have all the tools they need to reach management positions more quickly? Do they need to continue to work as change agents, by promoting their skills and accomplishments, by negotiating their salaries with more firmness, by getting coaching from experienced mentors and key people? Do we have all the cards to bridge the gap between men and women when it comes to promotions and compensation? Tell us what you think in the comments below!!


By Chantal Tardif, Director, Organizational development and Talent acquisition, Industrielle Alliance

Tags: Marie-Noelle Morency