Why You Need To Redefine Yourself Away From ‘Job Titles’ In Today’s WorkplacePosted: January 20, 2017
Job titles constrain. As an independent party in the global workforce, I’m free to express my personality and showcase my capabilities more accurately.
Until now I hadn’t even given the subject concerning the classification and identification of capabilities by job titles much concentrated thought, only the occasional consideration that any adaptive species is bound make when confronted with opportunity constraints.
It often used to be the case that when someone asked what I did, that is, what my job title was, it always seemed as if they were inadvertently pitching themselves against me in one form or another. Admittedly, I haven’t felt any such discomfort with disclosures since my exit from traditional employment.
That’s not to say I don’t have remnant memories from years past when I used to work in chain stores, bars, call centres, and not forgetting the one time I gave a field sales rep job a good go, knocking door-to-door, and trying to convince residents of Manchester to swap their home phone service providers to the marketing company’s client’s service and getting absolutely snow-stormed this one time on the job, that I vowed the next day I’d be a no show.
It was never the fact that I didn’t take pride in the jobs I had, but there was always the feeling that once I told someone I was a call centre agent for instance, they’d most likely paint me with a particular brush, to the exclusion of other skills which weren’t necessarily associated with the specific job title.
These days however, I feel more confident about my professional depiction, since I now hold the brush and can showcase the full skills palette without subjection to an employer’s or industry’s view of what a particular job title represents, as far as what or who I am. As an independent party in the global workforce, I’m free to express my personality and showcase my capabilities more accurately.
When I think back to the days when I’d spend considerable time laughing at ridiculous GIFs while stuck behind a desk, pretending to be productive, and waiting to knock-off, I cannot help but regret the time wasted. Sometimes I wasn’t all to blame, I think some people will have had similar experiences working for companies that were inflexible with their permissions e.g. imposing unreasonable internet restrictions or not allowing their workforce to indulge in other activities deemed unrelated to their job title/spec, especially during times when there were no tasks to complete and you’d be expected to simply stay still which to me made no sense.
Depending on the task at hand, I could be a communications expert, digital estate developer and manager, social currency analyser, trends observer, Experience Economy Researcher, Ideation Strategist, or simply a Creative
That was when it was just a matter of only working to earn a cheque. Now my days have never been busier and more productive. Between executing tasks, sourcing a supply of work, setting up a start-up, self-educating, and networking, there’s little time for petty preoccupations since I’m always constantly shifting my skills applications from one task to the next, which warrants the wearing of different hats, and ultimately the tailoring of titles when prospecting.
Since opting for full participation in the ‘gig economy‘ which Guy Kawasaki described as what “most people are using to make ends meet“, I quite fancy myself more of a versatile operative, and depending on the task at hand, I could be one of several things: a Communications Expert, Digital Estate Developer and Manager, Social Currency Analyser, Trends Observer, Experience Economy Researcher, Ideation Strategist, or simply a Creative, just to name a few.
Essentially, all the limitations that I used to feel when I was making use of singular or official job titles and the subsequent undervaluation of my offerings are no more. As long as my credentials justify the title and the title is aligned with my skill set then I’ll certainly make use of it for the purposes of conveying my capabilities to potential working partners, especially if the title has pertinent application and best describes the nature of the work to be carried out. I think a few years ago the popular term was ‘dabbler’, but that is usually associated with, and carries connotations of, ‘loose skill’. So I prefer to use more specific titles, which would bring clarity to the level of know-how or depth of experience, even if I have to invent them.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that in this evolving labour economy, one has to adapt or die. I certainly don’t want to experience the latter, in the professional context of course, and due to the diversity of my undertakings, I’ve stopped assigning stringent nomenclatures as far as job titles are concerned. In fact, I’ve started modifying them as necessary, depending on the nature of the job and as long as the particular title encompasses and highlights the specific aspects of the particular field, especially in cases where the pre-existing job titles are not quite fitting or are limiting.
Originally written for and published in The Huffington Post, South Africa Edition – 20/01/17.