Must you really ‘fake it til you make it’ in your career?

When it comes to career advice, many of us will have heard the famous adage, “fake it ‘til you make it.” And while it’s certainly catchy – and not totally without merit – it could be that we are relying too heavily on this one career ideology. Sure, confidence is key, and sometimes a little bit of self-assuredness can take your career in unexpected (but positive) directions. But does faking it until you make it always work? And when are we relying too heavily on it, instead of going for other, and perhaps more sensible, career strategies?

There’s a lot to be said for ambition and for an open-mindedness surrounding your job role. But faking it until you make it may not always be the clear route to success some imagine it is. Here’s what you should know about the faking it ‘til you make it phenomenon – plus, how you make it work for you.

What does “faking it til you make it” actually mean?

We need to stress that faking it does not mean flat out lying. If someone asks you if you have a certain skillset and you don’t, claiming you do is not a part of the “faking it til you make it” ideology. It could be dangerous to your career or even to your company. When we talk about faking it, we are simply referring to an attitude shift. Rather than looking at tasks and thinking “there’s no way,” instead, taking on the ideology of “why not?”

How do I successfully fake it til I make it?

Instead of literally pretending you have the skills and qualifications which make you perfect for your dream job (which can cause a whole lot of trouble), faking it til you make it is about how you approach situations you’re unfamiliar with. One great way to make a start at this is to study the attitudes of peers or bosses you admire. Emulate some of their authority, confidence, and positivity – even when they’re confronted by a more unexpected situation.

Addressing a negative mindset

It can become a self-perpetuating mindset, if you’re stuck in a more negative thought pattern. If you think you can’t do something, then nine times out of ten, you’ll be right. Making small changes to your thought patterns is one of the most successful ways to fake it til you make it. By focusing more energy on building positive associations and growing your self-esteem, you can actually change the way you think about tricky or uncomfortable situations over time.

Practice makes perfect

Sure, learning how to do something is important. But a great way to learn is by actually giving it a go. As long as you aren’t misleading anybody about your skillset, asking to expand your role and try out different tasks is an amazing way for you to learn more skills. It will also show your bosses that you’re interested in career progression and in expanding your skills – which are very attractive qualities.

Acting fearless

Often, especially when you’re just getting used to it, faking it til you make it can seem basically impossible. If you know in your heart you can’t do something, then often this will show all over your face, ensuring that everyone who sees you also knows you’ve got no confidence in your skills for the role. Adopting a more positive body language can convince others around you that you’re chilled out and well suited for the role – no matter how you feel inside. Positive body language like standing tall and not having your arms crossed can make all the difference. It can even trick your brain as to how you feel on the inside, too.

Don’t get carried away

Once you learn that, you can essentially create confidence in yourself, it seems to be almost like a real-life magic trick. But don’t push things too far. If what you can and can’t do is the only thing holding you back, the general rule of thumb is to go for it. However, sometimes that’s not the case. When faced with a task you can’t make a start with, don’t pretend you can. This is when faking it til you make it becomes bad advice. Ask for help, learn new things, and never, ever tell professional lies in the hopes of advancing your career.

Paying it forward

Many of us suffer from the same sort of ideology, that in our careers, there’s a limited amount of success, and that if someone else gets some, we get less. As you advance, you realise this simply isn’t true. In fact, by helping others out, you’re only prone to gain some good “career karma” for the future. In terms of faking it til you make it, this means dedicating time to inspiring confidence in those around you. When people are fresh into a job, they can struggle to find their feet. Giving them assurance and boosting their self esteem can massively help. This is not only with their happiness, but with their professional successes, too!

If you’d like to discuss your career please get in touch on 0207 269 6144. You can view our roles on our job board.