What to do when your new job requires skills and experience you don't yet possess.

Share story

You’ve heard of Imposter Syndrome. That’s when you’re convinced you somehow don’t deserve the job you have — that you don’t have the skills and experience to succeed — when you actually do deserve your job and you actually do have the skills and experience to succeed.

But what about those times when you find yourself in a position that is truly above and beyond your current abilities?

Yes, it happens, and more often than you think. Corporations are notorious for promoting people and then failing to supply them with the training they need to do their new jobs. Or for “rewarding” a high technical performer by giving him or her a management assignment that, say, involves supervising problem employees or administrating an unwieldy budget. You may even have gotten yourself into this position by applying for, and then getting, a job you’re not 100 percent qualified for.

Fret not. You are not doomed, because you are about to learn the three quick and dirty steps to speedy job mastery:

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Communicate like mad. You may be tempted to keep a low profile while you get your bearings, but this is what you must not do. Be open and up front. Learn your boss’s communication style and communicate in that manner. Determine what you need to succeed (more training? a mentor?), and articulate those needs in a way that clearly relates to your employer’s bottom line.

Seize the initiative. One good way to get an immediate handle on a new job is to identify a specific attainable goal, draw up a plan for achieving that goal, and then set out to implement that plan. It’s empowering for you, and it shows the higher-ups what you’ve made of.

Keep your commitments. Actually, this is essential to success anywhere, anytime. So make realistic schedules that allow you to meet your deadlines. Carry projects and processes through to their logical conclusions. Anticipate that things will inevitably go wrong, and have a Plan B. Maybe even a Plan C.

Finally, remember that you likely got your new job based on your potential, not on your existing skills or experience. So hang in there and give yourself the space to realize that potential.

Good luck.