I need to be my own Chinese wall
June 17, 2014 3:04 PM   Subscribe

I just received a master's degree and am looking to move into the technical field I trained for. Over the years, I have increased my profile in the creative fields I pursue part-time (writing, theatre, etc). This poses a challenge to my "by day" career, which sustains my creative work, and the new direction I want to take. How do I separate my professional identities so that they don't conflict, and interfere with my goals? Yadda yadda snowflake after the cut.

It's an employer's market. I want to refine my professional identity accordingly, and I think two identities are better than one.

I need to promote my creative work. But I don't want my creative work to prevent me from a better-paying, interesting job that will enable to me to weather the ups and downs of the creative life better.

I don't want people to use my creative work against me - for example, my faculty advisor told me to limit my "playtime", which is what she considers non-academic writing. Even though I'm usually paid for this writing.

I don't want to be limited to uncontroversial endeavors, either, for instance, only working on plays that are "family safe".

Writing is only part of what I do, so it's not a situation where I could use a nom de plume and forget it. Both my first and last names are unusual.

I have, in the past, had both relevant creative work, creative credits and my technical experience on the same resume, which made sense when I was working in corporate video or pursuing a copywriting position.

If you position yourself as a superstar whiz kid, I think you can spin doing some very different things under the same brand. However... Most of the patronizing things described in this thread, written by a woman who appears young and "sweet" to her colleagues have happened to me. I'm fluffy (girlish and plump) and taken for a decade or more younger than I am. My accomplishments are debated more, I suspect, because of the way I look. I had one promising interview go sour the minute the hiring manager saw me, after telling me by phone that I was the only qualified candidate that had applied; she quickly told me I was too inexperienced.

Some hiring managers have also been thrown by my non-traditional job history, which includes freelance work, technical contracts, and entrepreneurship. I would have happily been doing what I do now (day job underwriting my creative endeavors), but in lieu of a traditional job (during a recession, and while my husband was in the military), I did those other things. I like having a day job that's somewhat social and offers intellectual challenges. It feeds my other work. Also, the money.

Anyway, a more traditional hiring manager may think that I'm not as interested in the technical profession I've trained for.

Currently if my name is googled, both my professional and my creative stuff currently pop up. I know a screenwriter who has two LinkedIn accounts - one for his film experiences, the other for his retail management career. I'm wondering if I shouldn't do that.

If you have this challenge, how do you handle it? Multiple resumes? Do I create two LinkedIn accounts? Do I use different versions of my name? What are the long term ramifications of juggling two very different careers today?
posted by mitschlag to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It is technically against linkedin's tos to have two profiles for one person.
posted by Aranquis at 3:12 PM on June 17, 2014

Best answer: I work in corporate communications and journalism. I also write science fiction and serve as editor for an SFWA accredited science fiction magazine. For a long time, I tried to maintain separate identities and even used a pseudonym for my writing. Ever since I brought everything under one roof I have been surprised by the degree to which it has actually opened doors for me. Most people want someone well-rounded and passionate. Showing that you're a self-starter in other areas should be a plus. I now list my editorship at the magazine on my resume, even if I am applying for the most buttoned-down corporate gig.

Personally, I would roll my eyes at anybody in my professional life telling me to "limit my play time" and, if there was an indication that that sentiment was taken seriously at the highest levels, I would start looking elsewhere.
posted by 256 at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

There was also this thread from a ways back.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2014

Best answer: Hi, I'm you! (Filmmaking/software engineering)

1) Two LinkedIns, and their TOS can bite me.
2) Keep FB, twitter, etc, private, so no one sees me mention the "closeted" career that shouldn't
3) Slightly different names. My filmmaking name uses my middle initial, while my software name doesn't. For someone with a name as common as mine, this makes a huge difference in google results.
4) Two separate portfolio websites
5) Two separate gmail accounts, with separate signature blocks. (This is the one I screw up the most; sending from the wrong account)
6) Not confiding in anyone at the dayjob about the night job until I *really* trust them, and maybe not even then. People with the best of intentions will blab out loud to everyone and not see what the big deal is, even if you warn them.

Hope that helps!
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:16 PM on June 17, 2014

Best answer: Ever since I brought everything under one roof I have been surprised by the degree to which it has actually opened doors for me

In my experience this depends largely on:
1) The people doing the judging
2) Whether your other thing appears to be "just a hobby," or a second career for which you plan to leave the first one as soon as you possibly can.

At any rate, it's hardly a chance I care to take during interviews. And I know of at least company that explicitly denies promotions to people who have this sort of side project or interest.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:22 PM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the insights!

Indeed, my situation is a lot like DrJimmy11. DrJimmy, do you mention anywhere in your "by day" resume your interest in filmmaking (for instance, a hobby line)?

Aranquis, I was forced by my current position to get a second Facebook account, one that I keep clear of anything questionable or political.

AdmiralHaddock, thank you for that link - I didn't see this one when I searched, but I think it is relevant.

256, I appreciate your comments also. Like I said, when I was doing corporate video and writing (communications positions), it made much more sense to have those things on my resume, and if I ever return to technical/corporate writing, I don't see as much of a conflict. I know it has worked just fine for people like John Scalzi, and I've always wondered how Susan Shwartz moved into a nontraditional position (Wall Street) and also juggled writing.
posted by mitschlag at 9:47 AM on June 18, 2014

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