Professional Identity

PoP’s Professional Identity Project examines how we understand our work selves and portray them to the outside world: including to (potential) colleagues and other collaborators, employers, clients, trade and affinity groups.

It is PoP’s hypothesis that a well-crafted identity, focused on the work you do—whether paid or volunteer, whether your main role or a side gig—will serve both you and the world much better than nearly any other. This is especially true for ideological, political or other tribal identities, which also are our biggest distractions from doing fulfilling work.

The rub is “well-crafted” takes effort and focus, with plenty of tempting distractions and shortcuts, some of which we’ll examine.

We’ll explore:

Credentialism: certification, education, titles, honors, entitlement

Careerism, including status, prestige, hierarchy, promotions, (un)employability

Busyness, productivity, workaholism, idleness aversion and leisure

Materialism and (in)conspicuous consumption: showing success by our spending

The ethics of particular professions

Ways of asking–and answering, “What do you do?”

Relating to the roles like artist, craftsman, entrepreneur–or “wantrepreneur”, an employee, executive… that we may crave, embrace, seek refuge in, tolerate, etc.:

What it means to identify as a member of various professions: a consultant, journalist, lawyer, business person…

Health: how professional misalignment can affect our health physically, mentally, and emotionally

This work informs our products, such as our guides

Working on my bio-writing guide I’m wondering how/if to deal with the issue of people displaying pronouns after their names. Sometimes termed “preferred pronouns”, I’ve seen this exclusively in professional contexts like email signatures, Zoom calls and LinkedIn profiles.


Why are pronouns such a pronounced part of your professional identity?

It’s as prominent as another name, often more so than academic degrees or core professional qualifications.

Doesn’t seem useful: I only see feminine women with “(she/her)” and masculine men with “(he/him)”: exactly the pronouns with which I—and assume all other English speakers—would refer to them.

While I understand there are related cultural and political issues, those are out of the scope of my work. I’d like to keep this conversation strictly focused on the areas of professional identity, of which this section is a part.

I’m trying to understand the motivations and integrate this into my work, I have some questions for those individuals who display pronouns (or previously did). All questions as optional, even your name or email, and answers will be kept strictly confidential.