Career Development

Career Coach Confessions

I have been in the career services industry for 10 years. In my time as a growing professional, I have learned a lot. I have impacted a lot of people. A lot of people have impacted me. I have heard success stories, made lifelong professional connections, and absorbed vast knowledge about career and personal development.

Through my own experiences, successes and failures, education, articles read, attending events and conferences, and conversations with thousands of HR recruiters, professionals, executives, students and alumni in a variety of positions, industries, and organizations, I have gained a solid foundation on what it takes to be successful in the job market.


Long story short, I know what I am talking about.


Many of my colleagues can say the same thing and more. I’m not alone; rather part of a robust knowledge community of career educators. (In fact, Ask a Manager, The Muse and NACE are some of my favorite resources.)

So why do so some of our students, alumni and clients doubt or challenge us? Where is that resistance and hesitation coming from? Scared of change? Is it about the amount of work it takes to job search? Being vulnerable? Pursuing what makes them happy? Finding and retaining the elusive dream job? I have been trying to answer these questions since I started counseling. The fact is, there isn’t one answer. Everyone is unique; different life experiences and situations, attitudes and strengths, and it is about meeting the client where they are and moving forward.

Most clients don’t challenge or deny the job search process. Most clients are receptive, open minded, filled with gratitude, understand the work that needs to be done and are willing to do it. They take risks and face challenges, and take feedback from professionals in their chosen industry. They are knowledgeable and self-aware. They understand best practices, industry trends and company culture. They read. They enhance their personal brand, professional network and develop core competencies and essential skills.


Most clients understand that they sought help from a professional career counselor and trusts that individual knows what they are talking about.


This message isn’t for most. This message is for the few.  For the students, alumni and career coaching clients that still need to get there. This is my attempt to meet you where you are.


I know this is hard, but you can do it.
Yes. It takes a while. Yes, it can be a long and frustrating process. Yes, time is ticking and savings are running out. Don’t give up. Keep your head high. You can do this. This is a temporary stage of your career that everyone goes through, multiple times, through the course of their lives. You are engaging in this process because you are worth it. You went to school for it. You have a passion for it. Don’t give in to negativity or your ego. Stay humble, keep positive, and embrace the process. Happiness lives in the now. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those thing and still be calm in your heart. Just breathe. You got this. Here’s a TED talk about the power of your breath.


Those people you are meeting with informational interviews? They will need you someday, too.
Careers are not ladders. Careers are jungle gyms. Life has this crazy way of being circular; what goes around comes around, and the people we meet play a greater role in the bigger picture. Keep your professional relationships alive. Don’t burn bridges. And the people you are meeting with? They will be calling on you someday. Trust me, this has already happened to me and many others in our careers.


Your life isn’t going to change with one conversation.
One of my first classes in my master’s program, Dr. Janna Scarborough asked us this question: How many counselors does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None, the light bulb changes itself. Some conversations may inspire, motivate, gain or solidify knowledge. However, real change happens within. Look deep inside. Trust your instinct. All the answers are there. The change happens to you, by you. You are in control. You make your own choices. Own them. Deep down you know what to do.


Show gratitude.
The power of gratitude, saying thank you, and being genuine goes a long way in your career and in life. Every day, no matter the situation, there are always things to be grateful for. This is proven to have a positive effect on your state of mind and overall wellness. Here are some videos to get you started.


Networking isn’t what you think.
When I moved from New York to Miami, I had no friends. Sure, I had my new colleagues, but nothing past that. I worked a retail job for extra money and to meet new people. I took improv comedy classes and my best friends in Miami are from that community. I attended conferences and events in my industry to meet local professionals. I participated in community events, volunteered, and expanded my network on LinkedIn. Relationships take time to grow. It’s not going to happen overnight. But slowly and surely, make connections in your targeted industry and keep those relationships alive. It’s about a friendwork; learning about others and ways you can help each other, now and in the future.


When your resume looks the same I question my purpose on earth.
A few weeks pass since our appointment. I receive an email from you, requesting I review your updated resume. I am so excited to see the improvements you have made! However, when I open your document, I am confused. The resume you sent me looks exactly the same as the first one we reviewed. I search my sent mail and find your email address, follow up communication, and attachments/resources. They are all there. We spent 20 minutes discussing your resume. I showed you the process, and I even took the extra step and reformatted your resume for you, fixed the spacing, font, margins and overall look to make it effective, to optimize your skills and experience for your targeted industry. However, I receive your resume back with little to no change, sometimes even the same document as the original. My heart rate increases and stress level rises. This makes me question many things about myself and my coaching ability. Questions fill my head, such as what did I do wrong? Did I not communicate this properly or effectively? Did they not understand? Was I not clear? Am I a terrible counselor?!? Please, review the documents and resources sent to you. Commit the time and put in the effort to improve. I took the time to follow up and request the same of you. You want to hear this resume feedback from me, not your hiring manager. I know you are capable enough to make these necessary changes. Do it.


I shouldn’t know more than you about your industry.
If you are pursuing a job in social media marketing, I shouldn’t be the first time you hear about engagement metrics, strategy and analytics. If you are pursuing a career in accounting or finance, you shouldn’t be surprised I am asking to see more numbers and quantitative information on your resume. If you want to go into broadcast journalism, don’t look at me weird when I ask to see your digital portfolio and multimedia presence. There are basic competencies, cultures and skills that are required for every industry. You are responsible for researching, participating in professional associations/knowledge communities, and tailoring your personal brand to match your targeted profession. Everything is searchable online. Every resource to get you started, including training videos, tweet ups, resources, websites and events is just a Google search away.


I hope to see the few become the many. Here’s to your next big career adventure! #andiamo


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