“Are you still just consulting?” she asked me. At a networking event. In front of a colleague. In a room of professionals where I belonged. After realizing her blunder, she tried to recover, “Oh, I don’t mean it like ‘JUST consulting,’ and then she mumbled something else that only made her fabulous flub worse.
I brushed it off and continued my conversation with my colleague. The comment that would have made me question my professional existence (with that one word “just”) ten or fifteen years ago, now simply made my soul giggle.
Look, I’ve interviewed enough candidates to know when consulting is a gap-filler on a resume. But as the world of work evolves, the contingent workforce swells, and more people embrace a gig mindset to craft their ideal careers, we will eventually have to shift our model of what constitutes a “real job.”
I smiled as I walked to my car because I’ve held more traditional and acceptable (I guess) titles that, if asked that question back then, “So, are you still just a sales coordinator?” the “just” would have stung because I wasn’t sure of my path, or my contributions, or how it aligned with what I desired from my work.
“THIS is career wellness;” I thought to myself.
This brief exchange was a gift that I will now share with my clients and with any of you who are struggling with doubt about doing what you desire to do for fear of how others might judge you.
You will know for certain that you are doing what you’re meant to do when you come up against a “just” question, while perhaps not intentionally demeaning, and you are rock solid inside. And you can answer, if only internally, “Yes, I’m just building my career exactly the way I want it.”
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