I used to wear tie-dyed jeans, a straw skimmer for a hat and not give a damn about anyone or anything. Life was fun knowing that I was being backstopped by my parents who provided me with a bedroom in their apartment. I thought I was rebelling but, in fact, I was accumulating different keywords for my bio than what they wanted for me.
We’ve developed a bad habit of reducing ourselves to keywords to define ourselves. The keywords could be a job title, what you know, what your business is, whether you’re a particular race, religion, age, demographic, sexual orientation, etc.
Because one political season, I think of “suburban women,” but that says nothing about who these women are except where they live.
I watched the evolution of TV commercials where a woman was defined by how white her laundry looked on a clothesline to the wardrobe she wears to work and the incompetent husband she has waiting at home. He has gone from being, “the breadwinner,” to an imbecile who can do nothing right in her eyes.
We start to think of ourselves in these ways and start to see ourselves through comparisons to idealized others that serve no purpose other than to sell something to us.
We are always reminded of how we rank as keywords when we look for a job.
How many marketable keywords exist in my resume or LinkedIn profile that will attract a potential employer to me and want to interview me?
Then, they want to confirm your knowledge of those keywords. Assuming that you’re hired, those keywords are transferred to you at your new firm.
I am not keywords. Neither are you. You don’t fit neatly if you haven’t succumbed yet.
Conforming to other people’s definition is part of the slow and ruinous road we are started on as children in schools, taught to conform to their systems and desired behaviors.
Parents today are worried about whether their children are losing precious time because of online education.
They’ll catch up but then become sausage on the school’s conveyor belt again moving along until they have to jump onto the college conveyor belt. From there, their keywords will take them to the job conveyor belt where they will add more keywords and become even more conforming.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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