Does your job title and salary define YOU?

Over the last ten years, I have observed within the Federal government people allow their pay and their job title to define them. Who really cares what GS grade you are, go do some quality work. LOL.

I am 28 years old and I have climbed the Federal government career ladder very fast. But, my job title: IT Specialist does not define me. I am so much more beyond my career. The content of my character is greater than my awesome pay and my daily duties and responsibilities. I have dreams that are greater than my 9-5 job. I desire to be a author, television show producer, radio host, humanitarian, etc. I have a true desire to inspire everyone I come in contact with each day.

People within the Federal government totally forget about this mission of their agency or department. Your job’s mission should motivate you or living out your dreams and helping people should define you. If you are getting paid great money to help others, then you are truly blessed with a gift. Job titles and salaries can easily fade away, but your integrity will last forever.

Don’t let job define you, redefine yourself through your goals and aspirations. Kanika Tolver

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Susan Thomas

@Kanika, We tend to define peoples’ worth by their position and salary. We look at people and assume because they have the best cars or the best houses that they have done something meaningful, are highly successful or are worthy of greater recognition because of those things. Sometimes there is a drama of pain behind all that no one sees. I agree, that integrity counts and perhaps these days more than anything. Keep that great attitude working for you.

Wendell Black

I sense you’ve done some motivational speaking in a past life. :o)

You know what’s unfortunate, it’s that there are agencies in the federal service that are defined by their GS pay scale and position title, and this is because management in those agencies allow it to happen and use it as a way to make employees tow the company line. Like you said Kanika, job titles and salaries can easily fade away, but for some in the federal service it’s all they have because they can’t define themselves any other way. It’s pretty sad.

I’ve been in federal service for 20 years and I have no intention on going out like that. :o)

Kanika Tolver

I am so glad you guys are in agreement with me. @Wendell I desire to be a motivatinal speaker, I am working really hard on my brand.

@Susan You are so right a larger house does not make a home. People get so caught up in worshiping material things. Quality of life, love, friendship is more important to me and I am only 28. These jobs can be very demanding and stressful. I refuse to settle for a unhappy career. I want to be a career dropout one day!

Wendell Black

Kanika, you’re seeing a lot more at 28 than when I was 28, and that’s what I’m noticing about this upcoming generation…you’re smarter, sharper, and seem to get the big picture before it’s even developed. I enjoy my career and what I do immensely, but if Kanika Tolver were to start a company that resoled shoes and told me I was only going to make $5/hour, I would quit right now and follow you because your motivational energy is something that doesn’t come often. And your piece on “Good Leaders vs. Bad Managers” on your Career Dropout website gave me goosebumps because you basically defined my agency. Basically, Good Leaders are an endangered species while Bad Managers multiply like rabbits…or rats if you live in NYC. :o)

And by the way, I bookmarked Career Dropout. I think I’ll be visiting that site often. :o)

Kanika Tolver

@Wendell Thank you so much for your support. I seen you joined the Career Dropout facebook page. 

I am striving to become a good leader. Good leaders make change happen. Pass the career dropout website onto others you may know. Thanks again for the support.


Wow, you blew it out the water for me with this line

Who really cases what GS grade you are, go do some quality work.

A (((resounding)) applause is in order!!!

Mark Hammer

Comment by Mark Hammer just now

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My responsibility as analyst, as I see it, is to anticipate corporate and government-wide needs before my management. Which means I have to know and do their job to a certain extent. F’rinstance, I’m presently reading a lovely book on theories of performance (and performance measurement) within the public sector (by Colin Talbot, recommended!). Why? Because my role is to serve performance measurement initiatives. Do my masters think much about the meta-models underlying their spur of the moment ideas? I doubt it. Do they think in terms of operational considerations for long-term sustainability? I doubt that either. But I have to.

But I’m not a director, manager, supervisor, or anything else in the inner circle that forms part of the decision-makers. So I don’t get consulted very much. I have, in past, helped out a number of large federal organizations to understand their various performance indicators, and have actually used my vacation time to provide pro bono services to other federal organizations. The quality of advice and service I provide is the equal or better than what I’ve seen coming from consultants. But, since they don’t pay me, it tends not to receive the weight that a consultant’s report does. And since I am not a manager or senior advisor, my ideas tend not to be on the radar.

So, while my title and salary do not define what I do or how I see myself, they sure as hell define whether I have any actual influence. Sadly, if you’re not one of the cool kids in with the student council, you’re not really anyone.

Kanika Tolver

@Mark I am trying to change the face of what is it means to be cool. I think everyone matters no matter what GS grade you are. When more people adopt servant leadership things will changes throughout the government.


Good point Kanika. I’m a film producer/director, charity director and author. Then I go to the office and I’m a communications officer. All these outside activities help me advance in my day job.– Jay

Jeff S

Ten years ago when I was working in the field I would hear people in DC say I am going for my 11 or 13. I just figured this was due to the climate in DC.

Carol Davison

As a perforamnce manager, instead of telling people to do some quality work, I would tell them to achieve some result, or add some value. We Feds do too much meaningless work without achieving value for our taxpaying customers.

Jenyfer Johnson

Very well stated and true!

When I was younger I recall being very “tied up” in my job, who I was, where I was going (or wanted to go) and my circle of influence. As I got older I realized that my job, and/or grade, did not define who I was…I was more than that. I have always strived to do the best job possible and as a Program Manager for a base I try to assist shop personnel as much as possible. I don’t supervise or manage people but I make sure my base and shops are in compliance with environmental regs. If I can do that, make it easier for them to comply in addition to their job duties, and keep the base compliant in the eyes of the regulators…then I feel I’ve done my job.