Your Job Title Is Not A Reflection Of Who You Are

If you are broke because you put food on the table to feed your family, you are not broke to me. Only a strong person would swallow his pride and take any job he can to provide for his family

Muhammad Ali

Right now, this very minute, there are people all over the world who are not working in their ideal roles. It happens. We don’t always get the job which we have studied or trained for. Even when we do, we can find our progression opportunities very limited despite years of experience.

It’s tough, it’s demoralising and really knocks your confidence. We all have an idea what our ideal career looks like, and put our hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, time and tears into making it happen. But the doors just won’t open for us, and we end up working in McDonald’s instead of Microsoft. Of course, you will be told that you need to increase your knowledge and skills, which will in turn help you to get the job you want. While I completely agree with this, it’s also true that some doors will not open, no matter how well you prepare and how hard you knock.

Job titles really become a problem when you have to introduce yourself to new people. After the initial introductions, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will be asked “what do you do?” If you’re in a job which you love and are passionate about, this is the perfect opportunity to share that with someone new. If, however, your job is something which you have settled on to pay the bills, it can be terrifying.

If you’re not in your ideal job, social situations terrify you because you will have to tell people what you do, and they will judge. It’s sad but true. People judge one another based on where they work and what they have. This, in turn, causes you to lose confidence and lose perspective. Instead of worrying what others will think when you tell them that you work as a cleaner in a hotel, ask yourself;

  • Who are these people and am I likely to see them again?
  • Why am I attaching any importance to their opinions?
  • Do they really care to find out why I am a cleaner and not a lawyer?
  • Why do I need to justify my life decisions to somebody that i’ve just met?
  • Is my job helping me to meet my life’s priorities, regardless of the job title?

The only person you have to justify your job to, is yourself. It is your life after all. If you have had to take any role just to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head, is that really a bad thing? Be grateful that you have a job. Everybody has to start somewhere, and just because you find yourself flipping burgers at McDonald’s today, that doesn’t mean that this is where you have to stay. Turn up on time and work hard, so that you can progress to a supervisory or managerial role. Then, take that experience, and see if you can’t apply it to a new career. Or, start a course of study in your free time that you will give you the knowledge and skills to change careers. It’s largely up to you what you make of yourself.

I know people who were teachers and diplomats in their home countries, only to be forced to abandon everything and flee because of war. They lose friends, family, possessions and social standing, and have to start again in a foreign country as cleaners, porters, sales assistants or anything else they can find. Yet, they don’t beat themselves up and curse their luck. Instead, they approach their job with pride and passion. They understand that they are lucky to have a job at all, and with it they can support themselves and their families. They also understand that their job does not define them as people. We need more of this mentality.

To the university graduates preparing their assault on the job market, you won’t get your ideal job straight away. You will have to start at the bottom, learn your chosen industry inside-out, and work your way up to the job. It’s all part of the process. Nobody will give you a managerial role straight out of college or university. You have to earn it.

As with most things in life, your job is what you make of it. Be grateful that you have a job which pays the bills and allows you to keep a roof over your head right now. If it’s not what you want or where you want to be, stop whining and look at it as a stepping stone. It’s easier to land a new job while you already have a job, than it is to get a job while unemployed.  You are not tied to a particular job forever.

Apply yourself, no matter what the role involves, and seek out any opportunities for personal and professional development. Then, use this to move onwards and upwards, with glowing references. Most of all, though, try to focus on the positives that your current job offers;

  • What does it allow you to do with the wage which you earn?
  • What opportunities or benefits does it offer?
  • How can it be used as a stepping stone to bigger and better?

The “Jobs For Life” Myth.

Today, the average CV will have a number of roles listed. In fact it is becoming increasingly rare for someone to remain in the same organisation for more than several years. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is very good.

Previous generations were enticed into the workplace with the promise of a job for life. Or as long as they performed their duties well. Do very well, and you would get promoted. Or, if you’re content in your role, you would never have to worry about job security. The education system was geared towards this end goal of creating the workforce of tomorrow; employees who would work for the same company for 25 years or more. Back then, long service with the same employer was regarded as a badge of honour.

Things are very different today, but the education system is much the same. The teaching methods and styles may have changed for the better, but schools, colleges and universities are still largely preparing young people for changing job markets and not accounting for the change.

In the legal profession, the military, the police, medicine and education there are structured career paths, and those who work for it hard and smart enough will make their way to the top of the profession, or very near it. Elsewhere, it is a very different story.

People are experiencing more freedom and choice than ever before. The mindset has changed from that of an employee to an entrepreneur. This doesn’t mean that everyone is setting up their own businesses, but that people are taking ownership of their own careers, and taking responsibility for their own development. More time is being spent engaging in personal and professional development activities, and productivity is on the rise. More importantly, people are changing jobs more often in an effort to further their own careers.

What all of this means is that in order to attract and retain the most talented people, organisations must remain competitive. Salaries, benefits and bonuses must be enticing. While the costs may be high to the organisation, it costs an awful more in time and money to replace experienced colleagues. Which is good news for employees, who are being better rewarded for their efforts.

If you’re not happy where you are, leave for the right role. Sometimes a job offer from another firm is enough to convince your boss to offer a pay rise in order to stop you leaving. When you work hard and with integrity, developing a positive reputation, the power is in your hands.

What is worth remembering, is that is that the world of work is more fluid than ever before. You don’t need to have your career path all figured out by the time you leave education. Try internships in different firms to gain experience of, and insights into, your chosen industry. Spend 4 or 5 years trying several careers. Or pick one firm and stay there until something better tickles your fancy. Don’t be afraid to experiment.



The January Job Hunt

Every January, alongside improved health and fitness, a new career or job which pays better comes high up on a huge number of peoples’ priorities for the year ahead. It can be for several reasons, of which money is one. After all, it stands to reason that if you want to have more money than you have now, then you need to find a way to earn more, while also saving more of what you earn. More money coming in combined with less money going out will leave you with a bigger bank balance. Others, however, are comfortable financially yet still want a new job. Why? Because money isn’t the only motivator to change jobs or careers. Some people will change because they do not enjoy what they are doing and want a new challenge, or need a new job which can fit in with their other commitments.

Whatever your reason for changing jobs, January is the perfect time to get started. Regardless of your desired role, and the industry which it is in, you are almost guaranteed to find plenty of roles to apply for. This tends to be the time of the year when people have been promoted and their former role needs to be filled, or new roles have been created. The rest of the year, the number of vacancies will fluctuate depending on your industry. So, that’s why if you want a new job, you cannot afford to waste any time this month. Start as you mean to go on, and when you get started, please remember the below, which I have learned through bitter experience;

Hustle. Never stop working for whatever it is that you want, but also develop a thick skin in order to be able to deal with rejection and setbacks without losing your momentum or hunger for progress.

The above applies to all areas, not just job hunting. Whatever you want in life, you have to work for it. Hard. More importantly, you have to want it with every ounce of your being. This will keep you going through both the good and bad times. You will learn to ignore the negative voices who tell you to admit defeat and move on. You will learn to brush off rejection and keep going. Which brings me back to today’s topic.

First of all, a reality check. Landing a new job is hard work and it won’t happen overnight. For every role you apply for, there will be tens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of others applying for the same job too. You will spend countless hours working with recruiters only for them to go quiet all of a sudden. You will also encounter generic rejection letters or emails, or even no response at all. This is why you need to develop a thick skin and not take any of it to heart, because taking it personally can hurt your confidence and derail your progress.

Now…about the actual job search..

  • Use a number of approaches. If you have an idea of which company you would like to work for, check their website for vacancies. Send a cv and cover letter to the hiring manager, whose details you may be able to find via LinkedIn. Sign up with recruitment agencies. Check job boards, newspapers, magazines and social media such as LinkedIn. Do not rely on job boards, or any one approach, alone.
  • Network. Sitting in front of a computer firing off applications may give you a warm fuzzy feeling of achievement, but alone it won’t get you a job. You need to get up, get out and talk to people. Don’t just sign up with a recruitment agency, go to their offices and speak to them in person. How can a recruiter confidently put you forward for a role if the only contact they have had with you is a few emails and phone calls? Meet them, talk to them and forge a working relationship. Don’t just stop there. Now that you have ventured outside and away from your computer, attend networking events relevant to your industry or personal industry. You never know, the next person you speak to may have the perfect role for you, or if not, they might know someone else who does.
  • Develop an elevator pitch. This is something which can help you greatly in your search. You will be meeting and talking to countless recruiters, hiring managers and figures within your chosen industry, so it’s best to have a well thought-out introduction prepared. Keep it to around 30 seconds, and if the other person wants to know more about you they will keep the conversation going. For this to be effective, you need to be clear about who you are, what you want and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. The best way to master this? Practice. Keep practicing and amending your introduction until you feel that you can do no better.
  • Ensure that your CV and Cover Letter relevant and up to date. For a recruiter, there is nothing worse than receiving a cv and cover letter which is full of jargon and business buzzwords, but very little information about why you believe that you are a good fit for the job in question. Without fail, these cvs and cover letters go into the shredder. If you can’t take the time to update your cv and cover letter to reflect your suitability for this particular role, then you don’t deserve to be considered for shortlisting. You have to make some effort and show that you want this in order to stand out from other candidates. So, while a ridiculous amount of people still insist on having one generic cover letter and cv which they use to apply for every job, be the exception and take the time to tailor yours to the specific role. If the job advert lacks some information which you need to tailor your application, take the initiative to contact the recruiter and speak to them about it. That effort will work in your favour.
  • Be relentless. Don’t just apply for 2 jobs and then put your feet up for the rest of the day, or week. Apply for 2 more. And another 2. Keep going until you have applied for all the relevant roles which interest you and for which you are a good fit. The job hunt is a game of numbers, and personal experience has shown me that you should expect a response rate of around 10% from your applications, depending on your skills and experience. So, if you apply for 50 roles, expect to hear back from around 5 of them. If you’re lucky, all 5 might want to interview you. On the other hand, if you’re really unlucky, all 5 might reject you. Regardless of whatever happens, keep going. You have interviews lined up? Great, but don’t stop searching for other roles. Keep up your job search until the moment you get the right offer and sign the contract. Then you switch your attention to the relentless pursuit of excellence in your new role.

So, be realistic about what you want. Don’t apply for every job going, but focus on the area which interests you. Take each application seriously, and tailor your cv and cover letter to show that you are interested in this role and why you believe that you are a good fit. Accept that you will meet with setbacks and rejections, but don’t give up. Keep the momentum going and keep applying for suitable roles and keep networking. It takes a lot of hard work to land the right job, but if you want it deeply enough, you will find a way to make it happen.