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Your Professional Identity 

By Hadeel Al Kamli

Starting your way in any profession, you probably think that your ultimate weapon to get your dream job is a high GPA or a full impressive Curriculum Vitae (CV). However, at least in my opinion, creating a professional identity can be equally important. The importance of professional identity comes not only from its ability to help you demonstrate your value in any professional community but also keeps you aware of who you are; which can, in turn, offer a sense of direction in addition to guiding your professional development. 

For that, establishing your professional identity should be a part of your journey as a student in order to obtain your dream job. Determining your identity as a professional before graduation can assist you in refining the identity you claim. Moreover, identifying your skills, abilities, potentials, and, more importantly, your weaknesses, will provide you with a strong base on which you can build a map that demonstrates where you are and where you are heading professionally. Although most people believe that they know their strengths and weaknesses, it requires time and numerous experiences to explore the merits and demerits of one's professional self. 

In my opinion, discovering your identity is a journey that requires plenty of reflection and contemplation to understand your value and position within any professional circle. The first step in developing your professional identity is to assess your skills and what you can offer. In addition to that, plan the next step right after graduation and ask yourself whether you possess what it requires to achieve it. This is an excellent time to start exploring the field you aspire to work in by conversing with your professors and reaching out to seniors within the field to discover the skills you need to maintain and those you lack and need to acquire. 

It is of great importance to ask yourself these two questions: How can I stand out? And what unique skills do I possess that would persuade an employer to hire me? These questions will direct you to get acquainted and be more familiarized with the arts and experiences you need that are unlikely to be found in any course books you have studied. The knowledge and professional qualifications that you own can be complemented by a decent set of soft skills. While qualifications, skills, and expertise are an essential part of your professional identity, your personal traits will distinguish you as a professional or as a legitimate candidate for the job of your dreams. 

Now that you are more familiar with who you are as a professional, begin building your reputation by volunteering and/or working on projects within the field. In addition to that, prove that you are a team player and a hard-working individual. In any organization, hard workers are more involved and have a better chance to be acknowledged for their efforts which opens the door for more opportunities. This will establish your professional network which will allow you to meet more people and be recommended to future employers. Furthermore, refine your social skills and avoid toxic workplace behaviours that can damage your reputation as a professional and as an individual in the field. 

In a digital world, establishing a professional digital identity is substantial to present yourself professionally. All online publications (articles, blog posts, tweets, comments, or even profile pictures) associated with your name must be professionally executed. However, it is worth mentioning that your digital presence can go beyond social network platforms, as it can be even more potent in digital publication podiums. They can get you a maximum amount of exposure so that people can get an idea of who you are and what you do. The advantage of publicizing yourself in the digital world is that it allows you to be more contemplative, productive, and reach a wider audience. 

A clear sense of purpose is crucial in building and maintaining your professional digital identity. First, select a popular and reliable platform that suits your goal. In addition to that, carefully think of what, where, and how to share publications. Furthermore, always remember that quality, not quantity, is what determines how successful your digital image is. While you might not be comfortable with sharing personal content, a healthy dose of personal interest and views can project a more appealing and attractive digital professional identity. 

To summarize, what is fascinating about developing or reflecting on your professional identity is that it does not only create a professional image that you can promote but also better understand yourself, what you possess, and what you require to succeed in our competitive world.