A recent survey from Deloitte showed that more than 20% of millennials and Gen Zers wanted purposeful jobs, challenging companies to scrutinise their human resources management from job advertising to learning opportunities.
An insightful data prompted me to think: How might companies create all-encompassing job titles to recruit staff that acknowledges life experiences and celebrate individualities?
To answer this complicated and layered question, I have collaborated this month with my purposeful and multi-tasking mentee Martina Longo.
When I met her, I was stricken by her growth mindset and desire to redefine the role of her career in her daily happiness. In this interview-style blog, Martina shares how her job, Consumer Technical Insight and R&D Assistant Manager, is a small part of her life and how hobbies fuel her 9 to 5 reality. Let’s dive right in…
Gaëlle: Let’s start by telling us who Martina is. How would you describe yourself?
Martina: I am a young adult figuring out how to be the best version of myself. Even when I dig deeper, it isn’t easy to put my essence into words. I’m curious by nature and love being surrounded by people and experiencing moments. I strive to have a positive impact on others and their world. I am also passionate about growth, both professionally and personally. I love to think about myself as “an ever-changing story.”
Gaëlle: Tell me about things you do outside of work that make you, YOU?
Martina: Connecting with other people makes me feel alive and purposeful. Discovering someone’s thoughts, opinions and hopes is one of the things that keeps the spark alive. I can’t help but be fascinated by others’ worldviews, even if I might strongly disagree with them. Appreciating a wealth of perspectives is what keeps life interesting. Therefore, even if I love spending time alone to recharge, I value quality time with my friends.
Hence, I have recently started wine tasting with my closest friend to discover lovely wines and learn about tasting. I also like experimenting with food as I find the chemistry behind it fascinating. It is a new opportunity to experiment with special moments with my favourite people.
Gaëlle: When did you realise that your career didn’t define you?
Martina: Before entering the workplace, I found it difficult not to label people based on their LinkedIn job headlines. Luckily after joining Unilever, my view changed as I met the most diverse and amazing colleagues whose interests and values span beyond their work. I believe that is where the beauty lies.
Speaking with my mentors and colleagues, I realised the importance of cultivating hobbies. When compiled together, hobbies and experiences make you a whole person.
Gaëlle: Tell me about your definition of success.
Martina: Connecting with people passionate about non-work-related things made me realise that the true definition of success comes from the ability to do something one truly loves. Success means: caring for others, overcoming our greatest fears, being courageous and finding inner happiness. One person’s definition of success could look completely different from someone’s else.
A job title is a temporary state of being, but values and experiences are lasting drivers. At the end of the day, one should be more preoccupied with the things they love, not with the job title written on their CV.
Gaëlle: Did you feel different once you had realised your job didn’t define you?
Martina: Once I started focusing on non-work-related things and accepted my job wasn’t my dream one, something shifted internally. I started putting my energy into things I loved, and my passions and hobbies suddenly fuelled my work. Everything changed by focusing on the positive aspects of my life and leveraging skills gained in personal settings.
Gaëlle: Why do you think our self-worth is so wrapped up in our job?
Martina: Last week, I read an amazing BBC article that perfectly sums up my feelings about this question. It stated that historically, most people didn’t get to choose their jobs. Jobs used to be generational. If your father had a certain job, you probably would have the same one. And if you didn’t, you would take whatever was available. Increased access to education over the past century has led to increased job variety, creating new income tiers and making jobs a more significant identity marker.
The article explains that, for instance, it would be assumed that a surgeon would have done a solid education and have a high income. Thus, education and money can determine one’s standing in society and, by extension, how they are perceived and treated.
Gaëlle: Do you think we are conscious of how much our worth is attached to our career?
Martina: I don’t. I don’t think we realise it because of how passionate we are and/or high our standards are. Plus, our job represents a major part of our time which consumes our attention. Indeed, some people find it difficult to switch off, especially those who don’t do the usual 9 to 5. It is also true that those whose identity is defined by their jobs might be doing so at their own expense as their worth eventually gets impacted.
Lastly, since we live in a society where careers are less likely to last a lifetime and switching jobs is common currency, it becomes easier to experience an identity crisis.
Gaëlle: What needs to be done for people to believe they are more than a job title?
Martina: Changing this narrative is essential to change people’s mindsets, but this may need to begin long before one enters the workforce. As a little girl, I often got asked what I wanted to do as a grown-up; what my “calling” was. I didn’t have an answer back then, and I’m still figuring it out. I have always felt pressured by this question. Parents and adults need to understand that a degree is not the only determinant of a career.
Most of the time, a career is influenced by a combination of degrees, experiences, and hobbies… all of which help one find their place at work. Nowadays, what truly matters is one’s passion and purpose. My point is perfectly summed up by one of my favourite quotes: “Ultimately, it’s similar to diversifying a financial portfolio. You have to diversify your life. Diversify yourself.”
Gaëlle: So finally, do you think we need to revisit job titles to make them more multi-dimensional, just like our personality?
Martina: Following on my previous point, I agree with the need to create multi-dimensional job titles. What we do at work is difficult to put into words, and most of the time, the title doesn’t capture the essence of the daily tasks. It is important that companies also understand that there are many different nuances in one’s person’s job and that the content of a job may vary from one person to another.
Indeed, even if they have the same title, they may have different experiences and passions which they use to shape their job. Hence, we need to create more multi-dimensional job titles.
The moral of this blog: You are multi-dimensional, and your career is only a small dot on a big colourful canvas that is life. Here is a challenge for you: Look at your LinkedIn headline and consider incorporating your purpose or passions into your job title.
A great book on creating job headlines that capture your essence is: ‘Love it or leave it by Samantha Clarke.
This blog contribution was made by Gaelle Couberes.
Gaëlle COUBERES is a French but Londoner at heart; she has been living in the UK for over twelve years.
She believes in the power of sisterhood, championing both diversity & inclusion and mental health.
Gaëlle works for Unilever as Sr Global Innovation Manager, taking pride in being a content creator, a mental health champion, and a mentor. She truly believes in the power of community and solidarity, the magic dust that makes a difference in life’s wild ride.
Besides crafting content for the Like-Minded Female Network as a Blogger, she leads Lean In London. Beyond that role, she is also a Mental Health First Aider and volunteer for the incredible #IamRemarkable initiative.
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