Pigeon holed at work?



Call it ‘pigeon holed’ or being ‘put in a box’, it can be very annoying and restrictive. This is even more the case if you fell into your career by accident/chance, which many people do, and your job just isn’t ‘you’.

Why does pigeon holing happen?

Sometimes it suits your company to keep you in a certain role or just doing particular tasks. It may be that you are really good at what you do, but it doesn’t make you feel fulfilled.

I am a natural organiser for example, but it doesn’t give me a ‘buzz’. HR can think of people as job descriptions, roles and headcount rather than people with unique talent to be utilized in different ways.

It may be that your boss doesn’t like certain tasks, so it suits them to get you to do these, so they just do the bits they enjoy. Because they are ‘the boss’, they can.

Recruitment agents can be very good at pigeon holing candidates, after all it suits them to place candidates in the ‘holes’ that their clients are looking for because that is when they get paid. I have found many times with clients changing career direction, they find recruitment agencies just don’t get it.

A career coach like myself helps clients to reposition themselves and become what they want to be, not what they have been.

I hate being pigeon holed. Variety and newness are two of my values. I can’t think of anything worse than doing the same thing over and over again for the rest of my working life. It suits some people, to them it’s familiar and comfortable, but not me.

If you are feeling trapped in a pigeon hole, what do you do? Here are some tips

– Restructure your CV
– Choose a portfolio career
– Do volunteering to broaden your skills and experience
– Move employers
– Get a career coach
– Identify what perceptions people have of you, who your stakeholders are and create a communication plan to change them
– Discuss job redesign with your boss
– Learn a new skill/study for a qualification

What tips would you add?

It can be very hard to change perceptions of yourself with your existing company – especially if you were a placement student and you join the same company as an employee after you graduate.

Moving companies can make all the difference but sometimes a career change is the only way to find the right hole (or holes) for you.

Are you feeling put in a pigeon hole at work? Maybe you are in the wrong career, it’s just you have never admitted it to yourself or thought it was too late to do anything about it. It isn’t. Get in touch.

For more insights and tips, follow us on Twitter @talentliberator

About Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Talent liberator - career change, executive coaching and employee engagement. PS Love writing too and write many articles. Background in marketing and brand strategy and communication and unusual analytical and lateral brain - great for new career directions and ideas!
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