Criminal and Career Recidivism

bruceAre you a career recidivist? Do you sometimes feel like you’ve returned to searching for work too many times? More times than is necessary? You may be right and the solution doesn’t lie in better networking or reworking your resume for the 34th time. It has to do with your professional identity…..or lack of it.

A parolee with a new self-image, and a commitment to sustaining it, can walk right by the first opportunity in the hood to do easy money crime. The crime no longer fits his or her self-image. But, in the absence of that new self-image, the tendency will be to lapse back into familiar behavior that is congruent with the old, familiar self-image and peer group.

Sadly, this same recidivism is true for a well-educated and well-intentioned careerist who lacks a clear professional identity and repeatedly lapses into premature or inappropriate job search. They leave a job prematurely without strategizing potential internal moves with the organization at which they are working. Or, they frequently pursue organizations and jobs that are hauntingly similar to the one with which they are currently dissatisfied.

There is a reason that we call this blog “The Inside Job”. Inner work on who you are and your purpose are just as crucial to finding or creating good work as are resume design and good networking skills. Are you defining your professional identity and best work or is your last job ovebruceblogr-defining your next job?

Here are two examples of clients who woke up to the inner work of defining their professional identities to align with better work.

Don was a highly-paid commodities trader with a Fortune company. He turned down a transfer to the undesirable headquarters office and chose to stay in Portland to look for new work. Jobs like his were so rare, however, that he soon realized that his value would only be recognized and delivered in a consulting role. Trying to replicate the old job was futile. By recognizing his true identity as a trusted advisor on risk management he was able to refine his professional identity and position himself, quite successfully, as a consultant.

Andrew was very positive about his job in a footwear and apparel company. His challenge was about progressing and his development strategy. When we talked about his family history and his own work history, it was clear that both contained lots of examples of successful entrepreneurial thinking and work. When this part of his professional identity became clear, so did his career development strategy.

His plan was not to leave the company in an effort to pursue his interest in entrepreneurial work. Rather, he recognized the rising value the corporation was placing on entrepreneurial thinking styles. He decided his development strategy would include finding a senior management mentor or sponsor who was recognized for entrepreneurial values, perspective and skills and make himself available to work on special initiatives that this sponsor might launch.

See if you can write a Professional Identity description using the following definition: Your professional identity is you (stripped of all your, job titles, awards, certificates, licenses and rank) delivering value to customers or clients in a way that causes them to see you as not like other professionals. This unique identity is integral to career management because it is what you pursue and develop regardless of how your work is packaged (job, contract, freelance, company owner). This is your occupational essence.

Here’s mine, reduced to 8 words. “Empathically reveal and actualize others’ occupational essence.”

Give yourself 300 to 500 words to draft how you uniquely add value, and you will be well on your way from “repeat offender” to building a positive and inspired reputation. One last step. Share your description with someone who knows your work. You can’t be sure you’re describing your real customer value until a customer (real or potential) validates it.

BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions:

1. When is it time to move up?
2. When is it time to move out?
3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?

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