We all perceive ourselves in certain ways on a resume, but who we are as individuals can have a surprising impact on our careers. 

Generally, I think there can be three to four years of lag time between how we perceived ourselves in the past to how we perceive ourselves today. When a significant change happens, we need time to grow into it and integrate all of the new aspects of that change into our lives. The most common example is when someone loses a lot of weight but still feels as if they are fat. 

I think this mentality can hold us back from career progression. I once had a client who considered himself a “Manager” rather than an “Executive.” When he told me his salary was $200K, he was surprised when I replied that actually positions him as an executive.

This isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can sometimes push us to find new opportunities. Here are a few examples:

1) Going back to school

Most companies will not promote you or raise your salary just because you went back to school and got your degree. You usually need to change employers so your new managers immediately recognize the “new you” with an education. One time, I asked for a raise in salary after I went back to school and graduated. Nope, it wasn’t going to happen. So I quit and took another job that offered me a higher salary. They perceived me in the “now” while my old job still perceived me as I was when they first hired me.

2) Moving from individual contributor to a manager

If you have been promoted, some people might not relate to you now as a manager. It just changes the dynamics between people. And if you think others who used to be peers can’t accept you in this new role, it can delay your own appreciation of what changed for you. 

3) If you retire from working, everyone’s perception of you will change.

But it might just take some time for you to feel like you don’t need to be at work at 8 in the morning. 

If you can be around people who understand you have grown and changed in your personal and professional life, it will reinforce your own ability to recognize who you are now.

As a career coach, these are the types of issues I sometimes talk about with a client. If you feel that your perception of self is negatively impacting your career, I would be delighted to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can move you forward again!