by Chanele McFarlane
Talent Engagement Researcher, Coursera & Founder / Editor in Chief, Do Well Dress Well
July 05, 2021

I used to wish that I had a more simple career.

Something quick and easy to explain that everybody could understand. It would be so much easier, especially for my grandparents who probably still tell people that “Chanele works in TV” since I have a Communications degree.

For many years, I struggled to define what I did because it couldn’t be captured by a single title— and so did my friends and family. When attending networking events, I’d hate starting conversations because I knew I’d be asked the inevitable question: So, what do you do?

When I discovered the concept of a portfolio career, it changed my life completely. Finally, I had a framework that made sense to me, and others, as to how to explain not only what I do but what my professional mission is. I no longer felt shame around my multi-passionate career. Instead, I felt pride.

The only problem is that many social platforms don’t account for multi-passionate folks. We’re restricted by tight character counts and the requirement to identify ourselves by a single job title. Unfortunately, this leads us to underrepresent ourselves online and we can miss out on opportunities simply because people aren’t aware of everything we do.

Well, Polywork is on a mission to change that.

Polywork is a new kind of professional network where people are empowered to express themselves and tell their story.

You get to showcase all facets of your identity while also finding people to connect and collaborate with. The word ‘polywork’ refers to working multiple jobs at the same time.

On Polywork, you get to create a profile to add a photo, headline and your pronouns – similar to other platforms. However, what makes Polywork particularly unique is their badges. Displayed prominently at the top of your profile, you get to select badges that represent both your personal and professional identity. Don’t see one you want? No problem. You can easily create it.

Follow me on Polywork: @chanelemcfarlane

I had so much fun adding the various badges and it’s cool to think that I get to share pieces of my identity that I’ve probably never shared on any other platform before. Although you can only see a few badges here, I actually have about 30 on my profile right now and I plan to add more. On Polywork, I actually get to show up as human – flaws, quirks and all.

What’s also great is that the badges also serve as a way for you to find like-minded people. By clicking on a badge, you can see everyone else that has the same badge on their profile. It’s a great way to build connections as you already know you have things in common.

Polywork could be a gamechanger for our careers

For many of us, sharing our accomplishments publicly can feel kind of icky as we don’t want to seem like we’re bragging.

So, instead, we hold back and keep these amazing things to ourselves — to make other people feel comfortable.

Well, in addition to the badges, the other unique aspect of Polywork is the types of posts you can add to your profile. You’re encouraged to document your milestones, projects in progress, accomplishments and your failures. Similar to the badges, you get to add activity tags to categorize the post.

Here’s one of the many posts I’ve added to my profile so far:

That Time I Hosted a Networking Event…and No One Showed Up

While adding these posts, I felt excited and empowered, likely because it feels more like you’re writing in a career journal than sharing on a public platform. Why? There are no likes!

Instead of feeling pressure to share things in a way that will get the most engagement, you get to just focus on sharing your story in the most genuine way. So refreshing! I actually have a list of all the things I want to add to my profile eventually.

I love this feature because it helps to tell your full story, instead of just a highlight reel. You can add context behind the major moments in your career which serves as a way to humanize yourself to others, while also helping you keep track of your professional journey all in one place.

Also, because the posts are displayed prominently on your profile, they won’t get lost after a few days (or hours, depending on the profile). For example, if you share something on Twitter, you typically get some engagement for a day or two and that’s about it. However, on Polywork, you benefit from the long-term visibility which is only advantageous for you as it could unlock new career opportunities.

Polywork can provide a more human way to recruit – and be recruited

As someone who works in recruiting, I can say that we’ve been long overdue for a new platform to connect with potential candidates. On Polywork, recruiters and hiring managers can add the Hiring badge to their profile. You can also create a post on your profile and add a Hiring activity tag to share role details and any links. As a job seeker, you can search through everyone who has this badge to find a new job opportunity.

Alternatively, recruiters, sourcers, and hiring managers can also search through badges. I like that I get to learn interesting tidbits about the person so that if I decide to reach out to a potential candidate, we can actually have a more meaningful conversation. A Polywork profile helps to bring your personal and professional journey to life — something that is difficult to do within a Linkedin profile, resume or even a cover letter.

Polywork deprioritizes education and job titles for a greater focus on your lived experiences

Can you explain what you do without mentioning a job title, company name or your education?

Well, it seems like Polywork is trying to encourage you to do that and it’s a move I very much support. You actually don’t even have the option to add your education to your profile — imagine that!

Yes, you can add your experience but it is a small section that is very much overshadowed by your introduction and your posts about your professional journey. Honestly, this is major because it levels the playing field. Your clout doesn’t matter here. Whether you’re a student or an experienced professional, your profiles will end up looking pretty similar. Additionally, I think this is great for underrepresented groups who may not have attended a specific school or perhaps may not have a post-secondary education at all. This doesn’t mean they’re not qualified for a job and through Polywork, they can tell their story through their lived experiences.

As I write this, it’s still early days for Polywork (currently in beta) but I genuinely feel very excited about its potential. So far, it is everything I never knew I needed in a professional platform and I’m not alone. I’ve seen so many tweets and have read several blogposts from other folks who share the same sentiments I do. I’m glad to be an early adopter of Polywork and I can’t wait to see how the platform evolves. I encourage you to check it out for yourself.

Here’s a VIP code for Polywork!

Polywork was kind enough to give me 100 VIP codes to share with my community. Use my VIP code to get signed up right away and bypass the long waitlist! (By the way, this blogpost is not sponsored and I don’t get any financial benefit from sharing this code with you)