Why Your Job Title Doesn't Matter And You Can Throw Away Your Degree

Ok so don’t throw away your degree.  It was probably a lot of workpretty expensive and you likely had some fun times which you may (or may not) remember from buck-a-beer nights.

But a job title and a degree aren’t the end-all, be-all to your career.

There’s a lot more to a brilliant career

A few years into my career, I worked on a project where I helped relocate people from Fort McMurray to Calgary (8 hours away).  Ironically, through the project, it was decided that my job would also be moving. Troy (my boyfriend at the time) and I chatted about it. It was right at the 2-year mark of my time in Fort McMurray.  However, I still loved living in the city.   We were making great friends. We’d just bought our dream house. I wasn’t ready to leave

But I couldn’t stay in my current job AND stay in our community.

I needed to find a new job.  Within my current company. 

At the time, most of my work experience had been in HR.  And I really liked HR.  My degrees were in Accounting and Finance and I had zero interest working in either of those.  I wanted to stay in HR.  Unfortunately, there were only two options for me.  Recruiting or Advising.  And neither appealed to me. 

I was stuck.

What was I going to do?

I loved the company and didn’t want to leave.

I didn’t want to move.

I just wanted to work in HR.  

Why did things have to change? 

Completely lost, I sat down with my mentor. I explained my predicament and while I felt like my life was spinning out of control, he didn’t seem so concerned.

“Why don’t you look outside of HR?”

For a minute, I was confused.  Had he not just heard everything I said?  I wanted to stay in HR.  But I couldn’t stay in HR.  But I wanted to stay in it.

Spin. Spin. Spin.

The advice that followed changed the trajectory of my career and life.  And now I want to share it with you.

My mentor asked me what kind of work I liked doing.  And I wasn’t allowed to answer “HR”. 

Needless to say, I was stumped at first.  But then the genius came through.

He challenged me to think about what I enjoyed doing.  Not the subject, but the WORK itself.  What kind of WORK did I enjoy?

My career, he explained (and literally drew for me), wasn’t linear.  He was (and still is) a mining engineer.  You’d think something like “mine engineer” would be pretty specific and a straight line to the top. 

But he drew out a map of his career for me regardless. I saw that even as a mining engineer, he’d worked in a lot of different areas of the business.  Some that had nothing to do with mining. Some that certainly didn’t focus on engineering.  

And here he was loving his work.  In a very senior role.  At a young age.  Being a great leader.  And he was having fun doing it!

I had nothing to lose, so I took his advice.

Over the following few weeks, I started paying attention. I paid attention to what I enjoyed doing.  

(Side note:   I highly recommend you start writing down what you enjoy doing.  If you haven’t ever done it, start now.  I swear it’s extremely valuable!)

So back to my career crisis.  Here’s what my reflection came up with:

•   Presenting at meetings - enjoyed

•   Sitting at the computer analyzing spreadsheets - wanted to gouge eyes out

•   Explaining HR metrics to senior leadership - wanted to gouge their eyes out

•   Developing content and material for emails, presentations, stewardship reports – enjoyed

•   Facilitating awkward, messy conversations to find awesome outcomes – made me forget to eat, drink, and pee (I figured that was a fantastic sign!) 

I came back to our next mentorship session proud of my list. From there, he encouraged me to start looking at job postings through this new lens.  To start looking at job descriptions with the criteria I created, instead of only the jobs in the HR department, or that had HR in the title. 

Suddenly a world of job opportunities and possibilities opened up.

Soon after this critical mindset shift, I found an opening for a Learning Coordinator role.  I applied, and I got it.  And I got a sweet 20% raise and extra bonuses on top of it!

A year later, I had gained more insight into what I liked and didn’t like in my work. I didn’t like repetition.  I loved project work.  I didn’t like fire-fighting crises every day.

I was ready for another change.  Looking at job descriptions through this new lens, I wasn’t stuck on just HR or Learning jobs.  I changed completely and went to a job in the “Engineering” category (can you imagine going from HR to Engineering?!).   I was offered a job as a Continuous Improvement Specialist and it fit all my new criteria.  And I got another raise (YES!).

As you can see, opening my eyes to the careers I could do allowed me to:

•   Gain incredible experience in diverse fields

•   Rapidly increase my income

•   Learn a new skill set

•   Be continuously challenged

•   Never get bored

•   Network with people across the company and get sh*t done through great relationships

•   Blow people’s minds with how much I knew about other parts of our company and our business

•   Successfully avoid ever being an accountant (Amen!) 

Here’s what you need to know about your career:

•   Most careers are not linear anymore

•   The more experience you have in different departments, the more value you bring

•   If you have experience in multiple areas, you can qualify for leadership opportunities in all of them

•   Your career doesn’t have to focus on what you went to school for

•   Your career aspirations should not be about any title or department 

Here’s what your career SHOULD focus on:

•   What fires you up

•   What engages you

•   What you find interesting

•   What you love doing

•   What you are good at

•   What keeps you doing what you want. Here are some examples.

◦       Learning

◦       Focusing on efficiency

◦       Project-work

◦       Specializing

◦       Being challenged

◦       Working on the fly (fire-fighting, as I call it!)

So, if you are contemplating a change but you’re stuck, like I was, consider a mindset shift. Maybe you need to re-think your career like I did. 

Track what you love.  Take notes of the work you’ve really enjoyed doing. All the times you forget to eat lunch, or you don’t even want to get up to pee ― star those things.  And go find more opportunities to do those things!

This shift has made all the difference.  Each day, I focus on the type of work I enjoy doing.  I structure my business to do what I love doing. Heck, maybe you even need to go rogue and become an entrepreneur like me! 

Think about your career in terms of the TYPE of WORK you do, instead of the subject.  

And watch the options in front of your eyes expand  ― and your career to grow into what YOU want it to be!

Expand your horizon and watch the world of opportunities open up!

Time to go eat and pee (because yes, writing is on my list of loves!)




PS. It’s my mission to help ambitious women and men like you from around the world OWN and LOVE your career. I believe you can have it all - you can have sucess on your terms!  If you know a friend who wants a fulfilling and meaningful career, share this post!  If you have a friend who’s looking for the next exciting opportunity, forward her this page.  She’ll thank you for it!