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Unlocking Your Professional Identity: Steps Before the
Job Search

Hi! Thanks so much for dropping by. This installment of our Employment Services Blog Series will provide you with solid, realistic tips for a productive job search — no fluff. Of course, if you’d like to speak to one of our professionals directly for a more in-depth conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out. Most appointments are through Zoom, but we certainly will meet with you personally as well.

We don’t claim to have the answers for all job seekers, but we provide a shopping list of options that you may not have considered or tried. Prepping for a job search is key to the process.  There are never any guarantees, but considering these suggested steps can give you a method of organization and possible options that prepares you before launching an active search.

Steps Before the Search

Most people think a resume is the first and most important step. While this marketing tool is essential in any job search, there is even more important work to do prior to developing a resume.

Not everyone knows who they are in the work world. You might be fortunate knowing where your skills and experience will be welcomed, but for those of you needing a job change, determining a professional identity can be intimidating and confusing. I often ask clients what they want to be when they grow up. They smile and respond, “Good question?”  Here’s the thing — you might get to a certain point in your life where you’ve been doing the same thing forever, and now you’re faced with how things have changed and/or maybe your current job is just no longer the right fit. Is it time to change your identity? What is a professional identity anyway?

A professional identity is the image a person has, based on the way he/she performs a job within a career field. A distinct professional identity is often helpful in building a successful career. Building a professional identity involves a mix of education, professional training, and personality. Individuals earn degrees, professional certifications, and direct experience to demonstrate knowledge, credibility, and expertise in a given profession.  Personality also creates distinction among the people in a profession who have similar backgrounds. Simply put, to stand out from other applicants, you need to demonstrate confidence in what you bring to a professional table.

There might be several professional opportunities that appeal to you. The problem with making realistic job choices revolves around truly knowing who you are professionally speaking — what skills have you developed in a specific area and, most importantly, are you honest when acknowledging the level of those skills and where you have used them?

For example, a 3rd grade teacher wants to leave teaching and sees a job that is appealing in the non-profit world as a Volunteer Director. He’s confident that he has a chance of securing that position because he has volunteered himself. The job description specifically states “experienced,” but he feels he should apply for this position. He may be an effective communicator and highly organized as the job demands, but does he have any direct knowledge of running a department of volunteers? Has he ever worked in a professional management capacity? The answer is no and the likelihood of getting the job is not strong.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? If you can accept rejection without it letting it affect your confidence, knowing that the job you applied for is unlikely to recognize your application, go right ahead.

The Ark Employment Services partners with you to help you decide your direction. We really get to know who you are, recognize your talents and achievements, and respect your choices. Feel free to give us a chance.

Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, or seeking advice, contact Andrea Storz, Director of Employment Services at The Ark to schedule a one-on-one Zoom session. Email Andrea at [email protected] or call 773-681-8964 today. Visit arkchicago.org/employment-services for more information.

We hope you find this information helpful. We will have more tips in our future messages that might just be the answer to your situation.

We wish you luck in getting the job you want!

Next Topic: Resume Choices