What’s your career identity? #MyNextSteps

In this week’s #MyNextSteps blog post, Career Consultant Donald Lush discusses career identity. What’s the significance of thinking about your career identity when you’re a university student (or graduate) who is still figuring out their long term future? Read on to find out!

Image of notebook
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

 Our many identities

Here’s an experiment you can try. Next time you meet someone new it’s quite likely you will ask them what they do. In response, they will almost certainly tell you their job title.

This is an exercise I sometimes do in workshops, asking attendees to write their identities anonymously on a post-it note and stick it to the wall. I love doing this. Amongst my favourite answers have been ‘number one top DJ’, ‘sailor’, ‘feminist’, ‘parent’ ‘carer’. It’s great to see that people value themselves in ways that aren’t directly about paid employment. We all have many identities and at this workshop, I usually follow this exercise by talking about Donald Super’s Life Rainbow which is a career theory that helps us think about our multiple identities and where our career might fit into them at different stages of our lives.


Who I am = what I do?

In the modern world, though, we almost always very strongly equate who we are with how we are employed. There’s a connection between our sense of who we are professionally and our health. This paper explores career identity in-depth and this one looks at the connection between career identity and health if you are interested in knowing more.


Interested in developing a career identity and finding out more about new career paths? Then why not attend our #MyNextSteps career webinar on 15th July where we discuss ways to
1) Discover new opportunities that are emerging during the Covid-19 crisis
2) Take steps to refresh your career thinking and explore new ideas


Creating our career identity

If a stable and well-defined career identity matters a great deal, then how do we go about creating one? Doesn’t it sound difficult?

The answer is surprisingly simple. The first stage is to recognise that one is almost always in transition between one identity and another. This is especially true for students – the whole point of studying is to change who you are and what you do.  However, this process can create anxiety and the anxiety can get so bad that it paralyses you.


Image of person writing in a planner
Photo by STIL on Unsplash
To avoid this, here are three top tips guaranteed to help:
  • Have a vision. Do you want to find a cure for cancer?  Improve social justice?  Help people learn?  Whatever it is, it needs to be a big idea that really drives you.
  • Gather information.  This is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety. Who does what you want to do? Where are they? What do they need from their staff? Have you got it or could you get it? Your careers service specialises in answers to these questions.
  • Network. Find and speak to people doing what you want to do and ask them about their journey and insights.



Working on your career identity? To support you in this process, King’s Careers & Employability have  a great e-learning course on Keats. This course titled “Decision making” is a useful help for making career decisions, developing self-awareness and setting tangible goals for your career thinking for the future.