Don’t be Pigeon-holed!

Often in life we find ourselves being ‘pigeon-holed’, which is defined as, ‘to assign to a particular category, typically an overly restrictive one’ or ‘a neat category which usually fails to reflect actual complexities’. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘good pigeon-holing’. The term is often used unintentionally and is only part of a natural tendency to categorise things and we’ve discussed in a previous post how job titles rarely represent the breadth of a person’s strengths and capabilities. 

 So the question is, how do we avoid being pigeon-holed? Or, put more positively, how can we make sure that we are defining ourselves to cover all that we have to offer in a succinct way?  

Coming to terms with who we are 

If you are new to a job search, in particular if you are an experienced hire, it is natural to define yourself by the previous job title that you had. This is unfortunate because no-one likes to be defined in such a narrow way, yet it is very easy for us to do that to ourselves. It is then a challenge to write down in simple sentences what we are all about because it all has to fit in with this definition.  

So the first step is to let go of the concept of job titles as a means to define yourself. This can take some time so the next step is to try to speed up that process.   

Defining ourselves in our own terms  

 In the world of knowledge work incorporating technology and all other professional roles, it can be hard to imagine that two people would do a specific job and the associated tasks quite differently. However, that is certainly the case. So to find out about yourself, think about the way that you do simple things outside work. For example some people prefer to do things straight away and are quite spontaneous while others prefer to plan things in. You can arrive at the same outcome in different ways. And help is at hand here.  

Perhaps you have taken various tests in the past as part of a job application process. But have you ever done one yourself as part of your own job search? Examples are JT O’Donnell’s workplace personas test, Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder assessment and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, where you can discover your own ‘Why’. All three of these tests will accelerate your ability to define yourself in your own terms and make it much more straightforward to translate into a profile which you can stand behind.   

Getting out there 

It will be now easier to look for opportunities to put into action the things that you are good at. Now that you are no longer pigeon-holing yourself, the subject will no longer come up in interviews and conversations because you are setting the agenda. Most hiring managers are after all looking to understand the person as much as possible.  

 If you are looking for your next IT/Digital role and want to speak to a team who know this industry inside out, then get in touch. We don’t pigeon-hole people and have a track record of putting teams together to achieve great things.