At some point, you've probably felt that inescapable worry that you're really a fraud, or that you don't belong, and someone could discover your secret at any moment. 

Sometimes this feeling is justified when you really are in over your head, but it's shockingly common for people who are actually quite competent and qualified to feel this way. 

New research finds that a significant percentage of today's college students cope with the well-documented phenomenon known as impostor syndrome--including high achievers likely to be courted by companies in the near future. 

In a study that will be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Vocational Behavior, researchers from Brigham Young University found that 20 percent of college students who were part of a professional training program requiring significant previous accomplishment reported very strong feelings of impostorism. The researchers looked at the ways students deal with feeling like a fake, and have a few insights for employers. 

Many of the students in the competitive program reported studying alongside a large group of students performing at the same level for the first time. The shift from viewing yourself as one of the best students in your high school to on par with other high-performing peers can lead to a sense of impostorism.

"The root of impostorism is thinking that people don't see you as you really are," Bryan Stewart, an accounting professor at BYU and co-author of the study, said in a release. "We think people like us for something that isn't real and that they won't like us if they find out who we really are."

The researchers then set out to understand the different coping methods the students used to cope with their feelings of inadequacy. They found that one method clearly stood out as beneficial: looking for support and counsel from those outside the program or context in which they feel like impostors.

"Those outside the social group seem to be able to help students see the big picture and recalibrate their reference groups," said Jeff Bednar, a BYU management professor and another co-author of the study. "After reaching outside their social group for support, students are able to understand themselves more holistically rather than being so focused on what they felt they lacked in just one area."

Bednar says that the findings should also be useful inside workplaces. While feelings of impostorism can be addressed by seeking support beyond the company, he believes organizations should have some internal structures in place that encourage people to talk about failures and mistakes.

To help your younger staff drive out those feelings of being inadequate, work to inspire transparency and encourage a culture that is both candid and constructive. One way to do this is to encourage everyone to regularly share their failures and speak openly and honestly about weaknesses.

"Employees sharing their shortcomings and deficiencies with each other may also lead to more idea sharing and authenticity in the workplace," the researchers write. "Managers can help reduce impostorism among employees by fostering or facilitating ways for employees to share their failures without the fear of negative judgment or vulnerability to heightened scrutiny."

Entrepreneurs often like to preach about the benefits of failure, and young employees can benefit when employers practice what they preach.