By Khris Berry
When your parents and their parents were young—they chose a career. John became a plumber. Steve was an electrician. Donna became a secretary or a teacher. They trained for or found an opportunity and accepted a job. That job became their career. In short, their career chose them.
Now, people speak about career choice. Today, the ability to choose a career based upon passion, talent, or just plain desire has become both accepted and encouraged. It has become a right in the workplace rather than a privilege.
Marsha became a groomer just before graduating high school while working at a local kennel. There were always dogs needing to be shaved and it just seemed natural to enlist her able body to help with the work. Fast forward a decade and a half and Marsha, the teenage kennel attendant who shaved dogs, is now a working Pet Stylist. She came to the pet services industry and simply never left.
Angela came to be a Pet Stylist in a different manner. She attended college following graduation and tried a few different majors. She earned a degree in Political Science but could not find viable employment that utilized her degree. After looking at different continuing education options, she stumbled across an ad for a local grooming school, attended classes, and, following graduation, began her current career as a Groomer.
There are as many different paths to starting a career as a Groomer as there are breeds of dogs to groom. Today, the job you choose becomes a defining marker for many people in outlining who you are. Your Career Identity is woven together by how you feel about your job, how others perceive you doing your job, and how well you perform in your job. The combination of these factors creates your unique professional DNA.
Many pet professionals are reluctant to discuss their chosen profession outside of their usual circles. Perhaps they are fearful of judgement based upon their non–traditional employment or perceived lack of education. One of the first steps in achieving a strong Career Identity is to develop a sense of pride in your work.
Communing with fellow groomers who embody the professional persona you wish to achieve is a great start. Trade shows, seminars, continuing education, and sharing of knowledge helps you provide higher levels of service and quality to your customers and a sense of ownership in your own methods and processes.
Crafting your own career identity can be as simple as taking pride in your work. Increasing your personal skills will help you become more confident and release any insecurities you may have regarding your profession. As you gain confidence in your own skills, you can begin to be more thoughtful of how others see you in your career.
Do your customers treat you with respect when you discuss their pet’s service at check–in? Do they value your opinion and advice regarding their pet’s coat care needs? Many stylists become frustrated and feel devalued if their clients are dismissive or inattentive when they offer advice. Small steps such as displaying your continuing education certificates or informing your clients that you’ve attended an exciting new seminar will help them to understand your quest for education on their behalf. Additionally, acting and dressing in a professional manner when interfacing with peers and clients will help you achieve the image you are seeking.
As Pet Stylists we are not defined by our career choice but rather have a unique opportunity to define our own careers. In large part, Pet Groomers are passionate, creative, and emotional people who receive instant gratification in our jobs on a daily basis. Pet after pet, client after client—we receive wet kisses, warm noses, and thanks for creating fluffy pieces of living breathing art over and over.
Choosing to improve our skills and professionalism, enhance our business practices, and create high level customer interactions allows us to enjoy an elevated Career Identity. ✂