Blog #11: Personal and Professional Identity

Over the course of the semester, we have examined closely the conventions, genres, and processes of technical communication. We have considered carefully and discussed at length how different contexts and audiences influence the form and content of technical communication. In those discussions, we have also addressed the ways in which technical and professional audiences and contexts influence significantly the important choices we make about our self-presentation as workers and communicators.

For example, in addition to thinking about how corporations create a brand identity via their social media and online presence, in your blog posts, professional development/training module presentations, and your online professional profiles, many of you have taken up the question of how we as individuals use social and digital media to create our personal “brands.”  In her guest lecture, Elizabeth Johnson offered some insight into what employers expect from job applicants and employees with regard to dress and behavior. And, in the service learning project, you have been creating communication (including email, in-person conferences, and presentations) with a hybrid academic/professional purpose that has a real audience beyond our classroom.

An image of lego figures dressed in different suits.
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” ~Mark Twain. Image credit: “Suit up” by stavos on Flickr.

In professional contexts, we are judged by the quality of our work and by how we present ourselves. While the conventions of self-presentation vary from workplace to workplace, those conventions exist, whether they are explicit or implicit. Some people would argue our success in the workplace often depends as much on how well we are able “read” and respond to these conventions, as on our ability to perform the functions in a job description.

What do you think? Do you think conventions of self-presentation play (or will play) a significant role in determining how you and your work are judged in your chosen profession? Do you feel pressure to conform to normative standards regarding dress, speech, writing, grooming, etc., in order to succeed in the academic and non-academic workplace? If so, what are those standards, and are they in any way at odds with how you would prefer to present yourself, either online or in “real life”? What connection, if any, exists between conventions about self-presentation and professional behavior and the overall quality of an individual’s work? For example, do you think being punctual, well-groomed, and suitably attired for a job lead one to do that job better? Do you think it’s fair that prospective employers judge applicants on criteria that may or may not be connected to the quality of work an individual might be able to produce?

Posting: Group 1

Commenting: Group 2

Category: Personal and Professional Identity

In your Blog #11 post, take a position about how workplace contexts shape our identities in subtle and not so subtle ways, and the pros and cons of the current state of affairs. Consider who benefits from the status quo, the ways workplaces are changing, how employers can level the playing field for applicants, and the relationship between contextual norms of professionalism and the work professionals in those contexts are expected to perform and for whom. As always, craft your response as a cohesive essay or argument, rather than a list of answers to the questions and topics outlined here. Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog.

Featured Image Credit: Last Sokol fit check by Samantha Cristoforetti on Flickr.

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