Why “what do you do?” is usually the wrong question

And why job titles should be a thing of the past

When people ask me “What do you do?”, I always find it really hard to answer. I started my career in FMCG Marketing for New Zealand’s largest company, so that was easy — I could put a label on it. I was a Brand Manager. I then moved to London and started working at Futureproof as a Brand Manager but somehow fell into becoming HR Manager. Well not really fell, I convinced them to give me a shot at it, even though I had no experience in HR whatsoever.

That’s what I love about Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, the co-founders of Hoxby Collective — they don’t judge you on your years of experience, but purely on your output. I had proven I could deliver in the marketing world, so why not in the HR space? I look back on that and define it as the turning point of my career. I love people and am so interested in what makes them tick and how to get the best out of them to help businesses succeed, so it was a win-win!

Fast forward four years and now I see “what I do” as complicated to answer. I don’t like being put in the “HR” category because people automatically think fun police, processes and rules! I love working with companies to become more efficient and effective through their people, by creating an environment where people are happy and fulfilled. I want the phrases “I’m going to work” or “that’s my job” to disappear. I believe that people should have passions that allow them to lead the lifestyle they want, i.e. do something you love and be paid to do it.

Things have happened in my life recently that have meant I have quit my full time job as HR Manager of an Advertising Agency in Auckland, New Zealand and moved to rural New Zealand with my boyfriend, Matt, and our puppy, Tobs.

I got back in touch with Lizzie and Alex as I had been following the launch of Hoxby and knew it was something I needed to be involved with. I couldn’t just be playing lip service to my aims in life. I now work as an Associate for Hoxby across a range of projects, from keeping our virtual community engaged, to launching an initiative that will drive the business forward with our clients. The perfect mix of HR and Marketing.

My #workstyle is being woken up by my puppy for playtime while I have a coffee and look out the kitchen window at the farm — still such a novelty from my neighbour’s backyard in Auckland! I then go for a run in the valley. I’m hoping to complete another half marathon this year so it’s nice to have the time to train properly. Then I bunker down and get into the ‘flow’ for hours; it happens when you are loving what you’re working on. At 4pm I’ve checked out. I’m definitely a morning person and it’s so nice to not have to sit at my desk and waste time until it’s acceptable to leave for the day. Then Matt and I take a couple of beers, Tobs, and head down to the river for a walk; the perfect end to my day.

I couldn’t be happier that I made the move from full time work to freelancing for Hoxby — to be honest, I should have done it a long time ago. The best thing for me about Hoxby, aside from the flexibility and allowing you to own your #workstyle, is that you’re not defined by a job title. You can work on whatever you like, on any project you like and in any industry, provided you can deliver the output. One minute I’m talking with another Associate about how we make sure that potential Hoxbies are engaged at all the right touch points during recruitment, and the next minute I’m headphones in and designing the way we are going to create products for our clients. I would never have been able to have that sort of flexibility in my full-time role.

Job titles should be a thing of the past, along with the traditional working model. Everyone should be able to work on a variety of projects that excite them, where they are not confined by a restrictive job title.

Erin Jackson started her career working in FMCG Marketing, before finding her true calling — people. Erin is passionate about what makes people tick and how to get the best out of them at work. She has experience working in agencies both in London and in New Zealand and in small to medium-sized companies. As a generalist Human Resources professional she has a broad range of experience covering each aspect of HR. Although she enjoys every aspect of HR, her favourite has to be helping companies connect with their employees and create a highly engaged workforce.

Originally published at hoxbycollective.com on May 25, 2016.

The Hoxby Collective

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We are a global community, campaigning for fair work structures and championing the right to individual workstyles. www.hoxbycollective.com

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