But This Is All I Know

We are a world of boxes; we quickly create our own little boxes and find comfort so we never expand beyond those lines.  Comfort does not always equate to happiness, it may be simply a matter of familiarity.  “It’s not great, but it’s not that bad” is a clue that you are not happy, you are comfortable; perhaps comfortable in misery.


Part of my job is to help my clients, workshop attendees or those present at speaking engagements to get out of their own heads and boxes.   If you made the box you can break it down and create whatever shape you choose to surround yourself in.  I’m more of a wavy line kinda girl myself.


So often I will talk to a client who has worked in a certain position or industry for an extended period of time and have assumed this job/industry as part of their identity.  A big clue to this line of thinking is when you hear someone introduce themselves as a specific job title; i.e. “I’m a Banker”, “I’m a Compliance Officer”, “I’m a Secretary” etc.


First and foremost you are not a title – I’ve said it thousands of times before and I will continue to do so.  The only title I assume is Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece or Cousin.  Only family related and my most prized title is Mother.  No matter what I do in my lifetime first, last and always I am Jake’s mom.


So how do you break beyond those walls to re-create your shape?  The first thing is to start asking, and answering, some questions.  Start with the biggie: what do you do?  And let me just say – I do not care what your job is, you add value.  You do not just perform a task, you add value.  Remember this, refer back to it and remind yourself as you go through your questions.


Let’s look at two different positions to see how they can identify their value to move beyond where they are to where they want to go: a Business Banker and a Delivery Driver.


At first blush in answering the “what do you do” question they could answer, respectively:


“I help businesses with their banking needs” and

“I deliver packages to people”


But is that all they do? NO!


The banker must build a relationship with their clients to gain their trust to gain full access to their entire business picture; they must compile an immense amount of information; they analyze all the data and factors; they must utilize business savvy to see the current and future picture; they must learn their client’s business landscape to fully understand the goals; they create plans with actionable items in order for their clients to make informed decisions; they help them identify their current goals and long term objectives.


The delivery driver must adhere to a strict schedule and utilize time management and problem solving skills when challenges arise; they must utilize prioritization skills to make immediate adjustments in order to fulfill expectations; they build relationships with each contact; they must maintain a professional image no matter the situation; they must think on their feet and immediately utilize problem solving and/or conflict resolution skills; they employ organizational skills throughout the day and they maintain flexibility throughout the day balancing efficiency with every changing and demanding conditions.


A lot more than helping with banking needs and delivering packages, huh?


Not once in those explanations did you see a title; again, you are not a title.  You provide value in performing duties.   Relationship building, organization, analysis, problem solving – those are all skills utilized by both.  Which brings me to an important point: when looking at what you do start identifying the skills that you employ to perform these tasks.


Do you see how you start moving away from a title and more toward skills, value and assets?  Once you can start to identify these then you can take a whole new approach to your job searching.  Instead of looking for titles or positions that fit where you have always been; start looking for positions that meet your skill set.  These positions could be completely different that what you have ever done or in a whole new industry.


Stop looking at the job titles when looking for a job – start looking at the job itself.  If it is something that tickles your fancy then do an analysis.  What skills do they require and have you utilized these skills in the past and how can you demonstrate that to the prospective employer?


By looking at your job or previous jobs from a perspective of what did you do rather than this is all I know you will begin to see those walls crumble and allow yourself to open up to all sorts of possibilities that exist for you beyond that box.


Quick note:


I am working with The Grindstone to kick off Career Connect – an interactive speaker series to help people with various career experiences.  On March 1 I’ll start the series off speaking about career transition.  To find out more about this and sign up to join please go to http://thegrindstone.com/career-management/interactive-career-advice-series-756/#comments!


I highly encourage you to attend these sessions – they have lined up some fantastic speakers and I am so honored to be included in the list, let alone kick it off!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.