Do you feel like we’re setting you up in a (work) box sometimes? 📦
That your identity is tied to one company, one profession, or one skill. While in reality, your knowledge and skills shine through so many other areas.
I used to be tied to being a recruiter at this one company. The truth is, I tied myself to this identity because I poured my energy into showing up as a hard-working professional there for more than 5 years. When I left, I definitely had a hard time shifting gears - and that's 100% normal!
I built a solid foundation of skills there, but the work I produced was tied to the company's name more than mine, and I wasn't really sure what my worth was after I left.
Being tied to your job is risky
We hear it all the time from professionals spending years in one company and then falling prey to an ultimate layoff, "I was Lead Product Manager at Google" and suddenly I wasn’t. Who was I then?
There is this HBR article covering the topic of your career becoming your whole identity, and it says accurately: « Hating your job is one thing — but what happens if you identify so closely with your work that hating your job means hating yourself?
Psychologists use the term “enmeshment” to describe a situation where the boundaries between people become blurred, and individual identities lose importance. Enmeshment prevents the development of a stable, independent sense of self. Dan — like many in high-pressure jobs — had become enmeshed not with another person, but with his career. »
We say that work isn’t your entire life, but I say it is. And it should be a place you’re in control of. A mission you care for authentically, where you feel useful, and or a place where you set the right boundaries. It should be on your terms as much as possible.
Don’t be a cog in someone else’s machine. 🙅♀️
You’re most powerful when your identity is tied to your own name because you have more control.
Seth Godin once wrote, “If your job isn’t creative/interactive or local, it’s probably going to go away. The winners are going to be the bosses (quick, become a boss!) and the fast-changing creative types. Now, before it’s too late, realize one basic truth: Safe is Risky.”
That’s when producing work that’s tied to your identity becomes much safer. And that’s one way to escape the “enmeshment” trap.
Polina from Profile Read experienced the liberating benefits firsthand. After writing for Fortune Magazine for 5 years, her identity was closely tied to her company, she knew her self-worth was inextricably attached to it.
And for the last five years, “Polina Marinova, writer and editor at Fortune magazine” sounded pretty damn good. But I wasn’t in control of that identity. If I ever got fired, there goes my entire self-worth — and losing that is a recipe for psychological disaster. The best thing I did for myself is start The Profile in 2017 because it gave me another identity — one that allowed me to be 100% myself. Start a newsletter, a passion project, or a new venture that lets you tie your identity to something that actually matters — your own name. Nothing is more liberating.”
Ana Lorena Fabrega, a voice in alternative education, also started producing work under her own name. She shared content every week for 2 years and now publishes a book about her ideas. Not only is this very cool, she also says in one of her interviews that she doesn’t need to rely on a CV anymore:
Anyone can find me online and they know exactly what I think, what I've done and dig though all my interviews, so everything speaks for myself. I'm sleeping and it's there. I don’t ever have to apply to a job again! People that resonate with my idea, they reach out, and that wouldn't have been possible if I didn't put my work out there.
Well, let me stop for a minute there. I know this is uncomfortable work, truly. Especially when you don’t know what to say, you’re not certain of your worth. I’ve been in this phase for a long time. So many smart women and men avoid the fear and responsibility that comes with putting your own identity out there. This is vulnerable work, but you don’t have to quit your job and start appearing in major media outlet tomorrow.
Starting with producing small pieces of work that’s true to you, tied to only your name will not only build a safer and more authentic path for yourself but attract aligned opportunities - whether it’s a dream job, collaboration, or even friends!
With freedom, comes responsibility right?
(Let’s not forget that it will help you learn and articulate clearly what you like, what you’re good at, and what you learned!)
Now, let me explain why it’s also strategic to find your dream job.
Don’t wait to be picked. Learn the rules of the next-gen recruitment game! 👾
Let me wear my former recruiter hat here. While we think this is 100% an option, well this has actually become increasingly important to take the lead and be visible to your dream opportunity, especially for a creative company. Seth Godin (yes again, but he is spot on every time! 🤷♀️) illustrates this perfectly:
Everybody owns a media company. And this is a bad news for those waiting to be picked. It’s over, this era. It’s being replaced by the awesome and scary responsibility of picking yourself up. - Seth Godin
As recruiters, we still source with keywords on LinkedIn, but to differentiate product managers, designers, or any other skilled professionals like you - well, we will look for something more.
- One of the main questions we asked candidates with the gaming company I hired was if they had a personal blog or something they created themselves.
- To all the web3 candidates, I asked them how they tested their skills and reflected on them through a blog post or a tweet.
- I looked at research published, content shared on medium, collaboration, or side projects built on product hunt.
I looked for proof of work. That’s the new recruiting game. We pick you because of your creation, because of how you put yourself out there - and how you will reflect back on the company.
We pick you because you’re authentic, you know how you work, and why you’re interested in some things - it shows you take responsibility.
This is the best resume ever.
And the good news is: you absolutely want to be hired that way, because you’re hired for “you” entirely, and not only a title on a CV. Plus, you will have built leverage already - if things go sour, you won’t have tied your identity to one company.
5 ideas to attract your dream creative jobs to you 🧲
Kyleigh worked really hard on her product, Harold, a habit tracker, and shared her knowledge on SEO growth while being super transparent about her learnings and challenges. She just started collaborating with Llama Life team, an ADHD-friendly productivity app to help them with all things SEO.
Dan Rownley worked for a few years as a founder of Ilo, a Twitter analytics product, and landed his dream job as Head of Developer Relations at Lemon Squeezy after a few years.
- Nelson Ado fell in love with Webflow when the product was still in beta. He believed and felt a passion for it so early on, that he decided to do speaking gigs about the tool, and started sharing videos about Webflow for… 2 years until the founder reached out himself to offer him a job. "After two and a half years of helping the Webflow community, * received an email from Vlad, the CEO of Webflow, asking if I would like to join the Customer Success team. " He now is Senior Product Evangelist at Webflow and worked with the team for 7+ years.
Honestly, I think that’s amazingly cool.
Here are some techniques to kickstart your serendipity machine, and attract your dream creative jobs in tech just like Nelson, Dan and Kyleigh 🪄
Identify your dream company (you can start on Woody), and reverse engineer how to make yourself visible to them. Start a blog, a YouTube channel, or play an active role in their community.
If you’re more in the dark about what you’d like to attract, you can just start by sharing more about yourself and what you’re interested in. Here are some tools to shine with all your identities: Bento, Polywork & Medium.
Start a side-project on a topic you are attracted to using no-code tools. . It will be an incredible way to learn new skills, make yourself visible to players in new industries (That’s what I did with woody!)
If you want to double down on your area of expertise, let’s say marketing design, you can share about what you learned at work and work towards becoming a reference in your field. Charlie Pragley landed her role as marketing designer, then Creative Director at Convertkit being an active voice on YouTube. She explains it all here!
Contribute to your favorite projects by being active in their discord communities or volunteering!
That’s the fairest game there is, to land creative jobs you need to… 🥁 create!
So, which game do you want to play?