• Jenny Stallard

Why it's ok to not be manager material (or want to be)

I've been working on my CV and LinkedIn profile lately, and it's got me pondering on the fact that I haven't often been the big shot manager. Is it OK to not be (or want to be) manager material?

I'm realising more and more that yes, it is.

I know so many freelancers who were at the pinnacle of their industry, then went freelance, taking all that experience with them. But for me, freelancing has always come after a crisis (hating a job through to redundancy). It's never been 'ooh I'm the most I can be in this role, let's try being self-employed'.

I've never been a big-shot Editor (as in running the mag), and while I've done plenty of Acting Features Editor roles, I'm more often than not 'just' a writer. I say 'just' because actually this is my realisation - it's not 'just' a writer at all. The writing is the part I truly love. And it's the part I am making into my business now, more than ever.

I realised that 'just' being a writer is what a lot of people (clients, editors) want. They don't want a freelancer with loads of managerial experience, they want someone who can give them good words, put together well and often to a tight deadline.

I think we can sometimes over-fixate on the titles we've had in the past or the titles we give ourselves now. Yes, we want them to stand out on our CV so we show our experience, but we can, as freelancers, of course give ourselves any title we like! We can be founder, chair, managing director, all with he click of an 'upload' switch on a profile page.

And I used to judge myself for not having lots of 'mega job titles' on my CV. Thing is, I think people look at the brands you've worked with more than the title you held with them. There can be more kudos in saying I was a writer at the BBC than and editor with a less-respected brand, for example. It's about what we did there as well as the title we held.

That's not to say I've not been in senior positions! But I always thought the holy grail of business should be managing massive teams - now I look over my CV again with fresh eyes, planning a new direction, I realise that was never really me. That I just liked the words.

Do you relate to this? Perhaps you're a creative who always thought they should have a certain level of authority in your company but actually you just like taking photographs/singing/design led projects.

Perhaps you are someone who always thought 'once I get THAT role then I'll go self-employed afterwards'. Where does it end, though? I'm happier now I'm not chasing 'The big role'. I just saw one on a jobs website, an Editorship, and was tempted to click and read more. Then I felt relief at the fact that I am trying to carve a new path and staff jobs aren't part of that plan. I thought 'No, Jenny, you don't want those big editor roles! You want to work with words'.

It's enlightening to realise that I don't want to be the big cheese. So if you're on the fence, berating yourself for lack of 'title' or perhaps thinking you might need one more crack at that big manager job instead of freelancing, I suggest pausing. Have a think about what you truly love about your job, not what that title on paper says. Being 'just' something doesn't mean you charge less, it sometimes just means you're less stressed!

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