How do you describe yourself at work?

professional identity course workshop

What is Professional Identity?

It is more than just a job title or qualification. It’s who you are in the workplace, not what you do. The “red thread” that runs through all your various roles, businesses, projects, etc. It’s the fingerprint you leave on anything that you do.

And why does it matter?

Employee engagement is at a record low, shockingly between 50-70% of people say they experience some kind of work related burnout. Workers who have a clear sense of professional identity are more motivated and have more energy because their work is an expression of self.

We are also just about to live through the next big shift, driven by AI. The intelligence is now in the algorithm, so your professional value will have to depend on other factors, for example, the creative insights that you can bring (beyond conventional intelligence), or human qualities like empathy. Your professional identity must be more than a job title, a knowledge base, a past achievement or your ability to customise an action plan to meet unique requirements. 

For example…

Waves of Change

Organisations have carried out wave after wave of structural change, as they adapt to the times. The “new normal” seems to be continually changing, and we are stuck behind the curve.

Professional identity can make you more resilient and less resistant to change, like bamboo bowing in the wind.


Reference Points

Having a fixed job title and your own desk or office reinforces your identity at work. Members of modern, flexible agile teams in remote or hybrid office spaces do not have such reference points.

Professional identity is about refining your identity inside. Giving you back the power to define yourself outside.


Communicating Value

When making a pitch, writing a resume or interviewing for a job, what do you say? Most people want to express what qualifies them for the job, and impress with their experience and knowledge.

Professional identity transmits the value you create, how you make a difference and how you affect people’s lives.


Energy Challenges

Our energy level is directly related to our self esteem. When things are going well we feel inflated. However setbacks and failures, especially in times of transition deplete our energy.

Having a clear sense of WHO you are and WHY you do what you do helps you to bounce back quicker.


A worker’s self-image as jobholder and her ideal as to how her job should be done, can be a major incentive in itself” 

“Identity and the Economics of Organisations”
Akerlof & Kranton


Personal Branding
is not the same as
Professional Identity

Personal Branding is the act of putting oneself “out there”. It’s a response to a crowded marketplace, where many professionals are jostling for attention. Therefore, people feel the need to elevate their credibility and differentiate themselves from the competition in order to position themselves as an authority in their industry.

In this changing world, the idea of being a “corporate careerist” has lost appeal. Professionals are taking online courses to develop their passions, change their careers or perhaps they already have a side hustle. Within the context of this contemporary identity crisis – Professional Identity is an approach that connects the dots to capture the essence of WHO and WHAT you are.

You start by asking yourself: What do I stand for? Who am I when I’m at my best at work; Which words do I use to describe myself, whatever I’m doing; How do I affect the world? What ripples do I cause? This vital reflection is often skipped by people rushing to establish a personal brand. 

Summing up there are 4 key differences:

Personal Brand
Professional Identity
It’s all about “Me”About what I stand for, at work. The approach and the benefits that brings (More than “Me”)
How I want to be seen in the marketplaceKnowing who I am in the marketplace, whether people see it or not
Success determined by Extent (e.g. likes, followers, shares etc)Success determined more by Depth / Meaningfulness, no matter what’s happening
Sets you apart from others, because the goal is to be differentConnects you with others, who share your values and approach


Your professional identity is more than your qualifications, your CV, or even your achievements. Your professional identity is your deepest taproot. It’s an expression of your self-worth, not a condition for your self-esteem. It’s who you are when nobody’s watching; the DNA you imprint on everything that you do.

Clearly and confidently articulate the value of your work with others

Now is the time to reinvent the way in which you communicate the value of your talents, in order to be seen and valued in the economy of the future. 

We have designed a live & self-study course to encourage future-focused professionals to proactively reinvent themselves in a group setting so you don’t have to figure out who you are, solo. 

Over the course of six months (starting whenever you choose),
the key outcomes are:

​> Upgrading / defining a new professional identity,
that works in the AI economy;

​> Communicating this identity so that others can open doors for you,
vs. being forever stuck doing your own promotion;

​> A regular routine that re-educates your network about your identity and develops new connections;

​> Developing your energy and resilience via deeper self-worth,
vs reliance on self-esteem or validation from others;

​> Some practical steps to lead others to develop their professional identity (there is also an advanced course for this)

Learn more about Professional Identity

We invite you to attend one of the following webinars:

insights webinar

Turning your strengths into
impactful insights


How to raise the value of your work with a clear Professional Identity

Professional Identity rises from the roots of self-worth

Here at the Self-Worth Academy we turn on its head the idea that high self-esteem comes from getting to the top (more on that here). We believe that by working from the bottom up, and cultivating healthy self-worth your professional identity will flourish.

Your professional identity is the capstone of your working life. It is an expression of your self-worth, rather than yet another condition of self-esteem. Once we get clarity on WHO and WHAT we are, we can survive and thrive in any environment.

steps professional identity<br />

1 – Value

You build a more impactful professional identity, focused on how to be of value, instead of being valuable. Your value proposition becomes more about the effects of your work and less about you.

2 – Communication

You communicate with more clarity and impact, as you are not just communicating to gain attention. You have collected examples of the value of your work and have seen the ripples it creates.

3 – Approach

Other people can find you and even share your story – because they know what you stand for. You stand for a choice of approach, not just their choice of you as the expert or supplier or manager.

4 – Consistency

You have a consistency of approach that wins trust and credibility. You stand out because you are not constantly changing direction or rolling back on commitments to other people.

5 – Resilience

Being anchored by deep roots, your self-esteem is more supple and resilient. You can withstand setbacks – even disappointments – because you remain loyal to yourself.

6 – Purpose

When your work is an expression of self you feel more available energy and less of a grind. You enjoy a sense of meaning and purpose, which makes work life sustainable and enjoyable.

How can Professional Identity change your work life?


The core of professional identity is to be seen and valued for your work. Whether you are a professional looking to reinvigorate your career, a talent developer looking to inspire your people or a coach interested in incorporating the PI framework into your work, we have an option just right for you.