Activating the best of you!

Here are some interesting glimpses into client work. Career coaching, at its best, switches on the light of awareness, inspires motivation, and ignites learning and growth. Ultimately, the client moves forward to new levels of performance and impact. Career advancement is far more than an increase in the paycheck (though that is always welcome!) but it’s the great feeling that comes from increased efficacy and impact in one’s professional life—using and building on what’s really inside and being recognized and rewarded for it. Here are some notable glimpses:

  1. Reprocess any negative work experiences. Holding on to bad memories is never a good way to build a positive future, and it can be especially damaging in the career arena. A client came to see me ready and excited to return to full-time corporate work after part-time consulting when her children were young.  But as we probed into her past, we noticed that many of her memories were of negative experiences; bad bosses, terrible work environments, and poor company decisions. Yes, the stories were true but unflattering to her, her managers, and the companies. She was not interview-ready! So the key is to delve into extracting positive takeaways and examine, process, and learn from one’s negative experiences. Employers are attracted to wise and mature individuals.  And often, too, especially in Silicon Valley, many of us have been involved with start-up companies, brand new ventures with fantastically entrepreneurial, smart folks, but often immature company cultures and poor practices. That said, this client did the hard work of processing and reframing her work experiences more positively. She developed insightful ways to position and communicate her capabilities and qualifications. And it paid off. She ended up with a solid offer from a very mature and successful organization and is now happily employed, full-time, and going full throttle!
  2. The harder I work, the luckier I get. Although told that it would take a minimum of six months to earn a promotion at his new job, this client was promoted in just seven weeks! Remaining committed to his ambitious career goal, he followed through on all the coaching recommendations given to him for his new sales position. I suggested he quickly build relationships with the top-performing salespeople to discern and copy best practices…check. I coached him on how to plan, review and practice his sales pitch, anticipate and develop a thorough understanding of handling objections, research to find real competitive advantages for his product/company, and build relationships with the executive team with thoughtful questions and observations, check, check, check. As his sales numbers grew and his visibility grew, coupled with a management change, an opportunity was created. Bravo to this hard-won and well-deserved professional. As he says, ‘Joan, it’s amazing, there really are proven ways to create success, coupled with a little bit of luck… When my manager left, I was already doing a great job and had more visibility with upper management.”
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This client called me super excited that he’d had the best interview of his career. In fact, he was offered the position on the spot (without even having any references checked) and promised a large start-on bonus in an exciting and well-funded technology start-up company. Things started sounding too good to be true, and when I told him to have patience and see what the written offer looked like, he was a bit disappointed that I’d throw cold water on his newfound terrific opportunity. I cautioned him to see if the written offer matched the verbal one. The company was pressuring him for a verbal yes and a start date of that Monday. When the offer arrived, it did not match up. All kinds of excuses were given, but ultimately the client found out that the company did not have the funding it claimed and was just anxious to get people in there to pump up its employee number. Major problem avoided!
  4. Whatever it takes to keep your confidence up! Everyone has insecurities, even successful executives. And this executive client was becoming aware of how and when his insecurities were damaging his career opportunities. During his career transition, he realized that even though he chose to leave his last company, he was losing confidence during interview meetings. He noticed that fear and worry entered his thinking, he became distracted by them, and his communication skills weakened. We probed to see what was behind his fears, and it was a sense of scarcity; if he didn’t get this opportunity, there wouldn’t be another one. So we tackled his fears by keeping his sales funnel full and his time engaged in positive meetings. We had him reach out to former colleagues who he knew thought well of him. He had many positive meetings, unearthed new opportunities, and equally important, these meetings reinforced his sense of mastery, reminded him of his track record of achievement, and opened up his sense of the vastness of opportunity. This built up his confidence and resulted, over time, in not one but two significant job offers and a lovely problem to have in deciding which offer to accept.
  5. 1-2-3 structure for keeping your focus. Not everyone has an easy time remaining focused during an interview; the pressure is on! This job-seeking client was troubled and knew he was losing his edge as he went off on tangents in response to interview questions. So we came up with a way to keep him succinct and articulate. I call it the 1-2-3 strategy. When asked a question that seemed complex or anxiety-provoking, I had him first notice when the anxiety was starting. Then he knew to take action: He was advised to pause, take a deep breath, relax, and thoughtfully say, “There are three things that come to mind,” and I suggested he hold up three fingers to reinforce the structure for his answer. To illustrate, in answering a question about his key strengths relevant to the position he was applying for, he’d hold up the first of the three fingers and say, “First, I successfully managed several projects of this exact nature in my last company. Second, (adding his second finger to the gesture) colleagues often mentioned that I was thorough and known for comprehensive planning, and third, (holding up all three fingers now) I was noted for managing excellent team communications throughout the project.” This 1-2-3 structure helped allay his anxiety, focus his answers, and he projected a more thoughtful, confident style. He did end up getting a new job offer!


I hope these ideas inspire you. And remember, it all begins with self-awareness. We are often not conscious of the things that are holding us back and can benefit from objective feedback and advice from a seasoned coach. And everyone, from recent college graduates to mid-career transitioners to top executives, benefits from the structure and accountability of the coaching process, knowing they have an expert partner in the process. In Great in 8 Coaching, you get a coach with a track record of success in both the coaching arena and a 20+ year corporate leadership career. We integrate the latest coaching research from the sports and entertainment fields where ongoing performance improvement is not a luxury but a requirement for sustained peak performance. 

Let’s explore how coaching can benefit you!.

Onward in your career success!

Dear Coach Joan,

My current job is challenging and rewarding, but the salary and benefits are not good at all. For the first five years (my first job after college)  I was so stimulated by the job as a teacher in a small private school, but now that my husband and I are expecting a child and  just purchased a home, I notice myself feeling resentful and unhappy about my compensation.  I am afraid that if I move to a more lucrative position, I will miss the rewards of being stimulated and knowing I am making a difference. I have been contacted by a few recruiters and colleagues about new jobs but so far have not shown interest. Can you advise me on how to look at the trade-offs?

Thank you,


Dear Ann,

It’s wonderful that you found such satisfying and stimulating work for the first five years of your career. Many people find their first jobs to be drudgery and unfulfilling; paying the dues, as the expression goes.  So you should appreciate that you had quite a good run for the five years and also make sure to reflect on the key things you’ve learned and, keep that network of interesting people involved in your career life.

Your life is now changing and as your life changes, you often have changing career needs. At the start of your career, just out of college, you looked for a job in your field and you lucky to find one. Most young people are not too concerned with living with roommates to keep costs down, they often drive an old car, if they have a car at all and they often are not thinking about supporting a growing family.  Our needs and values change over time as our lifestyle changes in the course of our  career lifecycle. Let’s look at four periods of life and how the trade-offs might look. I’m basing this on actual clients I’ve worked with of varying ages and stages of life, and the composite is a woman named Leslie, at various stages of her life:

  1. Leslie, 22, the college graduate: Leslie graduated with a degree in early childhood education. She had done student teaching and loved it! The problem was, the year she graduated, there were too many graduates in her area and competitive to get a position was fierce. She wisely decided to widen her job net and found a position about five hours from the place she wanted to live. But at that stage of her career, entry level, the most important thing to her was getting a job in her field, getting experience, so she could then be a more competitive candidate and return to her location of choice. So put the criteria of JOB IN HER FIELD as the A#1 priority and she was willing to give up geographic location and high salary and even how the school district was rated, just to get in the door and get experience. She accepted her job with a low, base salary, lived with three roommates and barely paid her bills and put all savings to pay off her college loans.
  2. Leslie, 32, now married: Leslie followed her plan and it took her three years to get back to her location of choice, leveraging her teaching experience. But now she was married and she and her husband were saving to buy a home and planning to have a family. Now her priorities were to get as high a salary as possible with a solid benefits package as her husband was a contractor and didn’t have benefits with his work. Leslie leveraged her work experience and fine references and got into a top school district with good pay and excellent benefits. She was also looking for a local job as she knew she didn’t want a long commute for when she had children.
  3. Leslie, 49, kids to put through college.  Leslie and her husband now have two kids to put through college. They are focused on making as much money as they can. Leslie looks into transitioning to a corporate training job as she finds out that it pays almost double compared to her teacher’s salary. She joined a professional training organization, reached out to other former teachers to see what kind of skills she needed to make that change. She did informational interviews and met a number of former teachers who mentored her and helped me get a new position. Though she preferred working with children, a high salary was now paramount to her.
  4. Leslie, 64, wanting to paint and use her artistic talents: Now Leslie really wants TIME and flexibility. She returns to part time teaching as she really missed working with kids. And she discovers during her ReVitalment ™, the period of life after full time career and before true old age, that she used to love to paint and draw but put her art box away when she needed to focus on career, then family building. But now she realized she had a love of painting and craved being in the art studio. With a part time job in teaching she now had two and half days a week in an art studio!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, Ann, there really is a CAREER LIFECYCLE and at different stages of life, different things are important to you. It sounds like you are now in one of those transitional stages and you need to reflect and think about your priorities of today!   All the best to you and wishing your success and awareness as you go through your Career Lifecycle Journey.   Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

I’ve been thinking about your profession and all the situations and experiences you’ve seen with people in their working lives.  I’m wondering if you’ve seen some odd or unpredictable, strange things that have happened to people in their careers.  Anything readers might find interesting and informative?

Thank you,

Curious in Cotati


Dear Curious in Cotati

I think that’s a great question and it’s funny timing, as I was just telling a prospective client that I really could not predict how long it would take for her to secure new employment. I could give a ballpark of under 6 months considering her skills, credentials, track record, years of employment and market need in her field. However, there are so many, many factors that go into someone’s success in the job seeking process.

But OK, you asked for strange, odd or unpredictable things that’ve occurred in careers.  Here are a couple I could not have anticipated:

  1. FIRED BEFORE STARTING THE JOB:  This happened to a director level sales professional. She was in her late 30s, in the prime of her career and had worked for several notable, large technology firms in Silicon Valley. She took the chance on a start up that went belly up and had an unemployment period. She hired me in the hopes of making her job search more efficient and effective as that’s what good coaching can do. We honed in her positioning and key strengths, made sure her resume and linkedIn were top notch and got her references set to go. We had her leverage her network of both professional and personal contacts in hopes of finding just the right position. FYI, over 70% of jobs are gotten via one’s network so do keep that network fresh and activated.  We also had her reach out to all her former managers and colleagues, as part of the ‘Friends and Family Outreach Letter’. And she played an active leadership role in her professional association. She had many interviews over a 5 months period but no offers. FYI, for a senior level position it is not unusual to take 6 – 12 months to find new employment.  Finally, at month 7 she had a HIT. One of her former bosses reached out and was in another start up that needed her sales leadership skills. At that level there is often an employment contract that both parties need to agree to and sign. This one addressed her base salary, commission structure, start date and scope of her responsibilities and the geographic region she was assigned to. She was to start in two weeks from the date of contract. All was signed and sealed. Or so she thought….. A week later she got a call from the prospective employer and was told that her position had been cancelled, that the company did not get the round of funding that were counting on. She called me immediately, understandably quite upset as she’d already let her network know where she was headed for her next job. She called off all interviews that were scheduled and was preparing to start her new job.   HOWEVER, I told her the episode was NOT OVER. She had a signed employment contract and they were reneging on it! I introduced her to an employment attorney who saw there was a good case. My client ended up getting a 1/3 of her first year’s projected income as compensation. Yes, she had to restart her job search once again but with the financial cushion from the lawsuit, she was more relaxed about it.  TAKEAWAY:  Don’t ever stop the job search until you have actually been on the job for a week or more!! Things happen, as they did in this case. And do not update your network, resume or LinkedIn profile until you have started the job!!                                
  2. CLIENT GOT THE JOB WITH NONE OF THE REQUIRED CREDENTIALS!!  OK, this is a GOOD NEWS STORY that really happened! This young man had dropped out of college and was basically ‘going nowhere’ when his parents decided it was time for TOUGH LOVE; time to get out of their house unless he could pay for rent and food. They had given him 6 months on the couch with a bedroom, food and laundry and they felt he was getting lazier by the day. His only job skills were retail sales but he did have a passion and love for high end, luxury and sports cars. And he knew a lot about them.  Well, he found out that one of the top brands was opening a dealership hear him. He decided he wanted to work there in sales. He called over and found out they wanted to hire only people who had college degrees and 2-3 years track record in selling high end automobiles. But he was undeterred.  He decided that was the job for him! He asked him parents to loan him money to get professional clothing; a suit and fine leather shoes. And he augmented his knowledge of that brand of cars and the competition. He also read up on professional sales and consultative sales. Once he felt ready, he went to the dealership and introduced himself. He was lucky to find the VP of the corporation that owned the group of dealerships in the office. He knew he looked professional, but knew he had to convince her he could do the job. They had a 5 minute talk in which she told him the requirement was a college degree and minimum of 2-3 years with a proven track record in selling high end cars. She explained that everyone in that dealership had those credentials. He left. But he came back everyday for the next 5 days, making conversation with the woman and letting her know he really did know ‘his stuff’ about these cars and the competition! On the 6th day, she gave in…She told him she had never seen a candidate with that degree of persistence, knowledge and perseverance and for the first time in her career, she was going to totally bend the rules and hire him, but on a probationary basis for one month…….One year later he became the #1 sales rep in the dealership, and now 5 years later, he’s had three promotions and has a significant career in the high end automotive sales field.    TAKEWAY: If you have a passion, GO FOR IT. Do all you can to prepare for success and conjure up your courage and confidence and try for a position you really want. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Notice that this young man acted on my adage:       READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS  

Yes, Curious in Cotati, I have seen strange, odd and unpredicable things happen as a career coach! And I want to remind you that you cannot depend on bad luck or good luck but you can work as hard as you can to make yourself find those opportune career moves that really fit your strengths and interests, hone in on what you want and then reach out to all influencers and connections to find that right opportunity. And keep at it. As we often hear:  THE HARDER I WORK, THE LUCKIER I GET!! Tis True!                                                                                                                                             HAPPY HOLIDAYS and onward in your career success in 2020, Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

I am  28 years old and have been quite successful in commission-based selling for the last 6 yrs. My income has continued to go up each year but I do not like the stress of month-to=month pressure to make my numbers. I also don’t like working weekends and missing time to socialize with my friends who have weekends off.  I do enjoy two full days off during the week and work a structured 4o hour week, which I like.  Recently, I was approached by a start-up company attracted to my sales experience (they found me via my LinkedIn profile) and they want to consider me for a strategic sales planning job in the same product line I currently work in.  I had several phone interviews and then spent a full day meeting with key managers and seeing their products, impressive! The internal sales recruiter told me that the salary would be about 40% less than I am making now, But I would get stock options, too, as a part of my compensation package.  How should I decide whether to take the position?

Unsure about a career move,


Dear Lisa,

Congratulations on attracting a new possible career opportunity. I’m always encouraging clients to keep their LinkedIn profile fresh and attractive for just this kind of opportunity to happen. Clearly yours was, and look where it’s taken you.  I am so glad you wrote because I think your situation is a common one. People often don’t know whether a new job or career will put them in a better situation or not. Partly the answer is, who knows, because we don’t have a crystal ball and many variables are at play. Sometimes start-ups that don’t look promising at all do a surprising turnaround and become tremendously successful. Other times a start-up might look very promising and have a lot of investor money pouring in, only to fail because of poor leadership, a better competitor, a technology disappointment or many reasons. So that part we just don’t know.

What I suggest you look at are these key variables:

  1. Is the work itself something you are good at:  In other words, does this work play to your strengths.  We tend to be successful in those jobs that we naturally enjoy and do well in. Is this in a subject matter that both interests you and you are good at?   You mention that your sales performance is going up year after year. That is a sign that you are good at sales!  But does that mean you are good at strategic sales planning? To me, that sounds like a different skill set.  When you are selling you are working 1:1 with a customer on providing information and being persuasive and using strong interpersonal skills. The role of a strategic sales planner is more analytical and if often involved more solo work in an office, on one’s own. It could be analyzing a lot of data and making recommendations and plans based on data trends.
  2. Are you imagining that the grass is greener: You mentioned that you don’t like not having weekends off. But have you spoken to people who work at start-ups? Not only do they sometimes work on weekends but unlike your regular hours, it’s not unusual for them to work 12 hour days. You might not like having to work on weekends but you probably really enjoy having set hours. Also, you are used to a better income than what is being suggested in this start-up. You might have pressure each month to make the sales, but it sounds like you are good at it and getting the results. In a corporate job you get the same salary each pay period. So you might not have the pressure, but you do have a lower, read more disappointing salary. And stock options are not a reliable form of income. You need to look at your financial picture. If a salary reduction might not be too difficult to adjust to, the upside of a stock position might be a good risk for you at this early stage of your career.
  3. Trying a new career environment and developing new skill sets: On the positive side, you are under 30 years old. You are young and early on in your career. It might be a good time to try working in a new setting, meeting and getting to know different kinds of people in different professions. It would be interesting to compare working in a commission-based environment to a corporate based one. You might find you have additional skills and interests you could develop.
  4. My advise: Lisa, focus on getting to the offer. If the offer comes in, negotiate to your best ability (see if you can have them put you on a performance plan with bonuses for bench marked achievements as they know you are used to working toward specific, measurable goals)  and if the terms look good and you’ve considered the above aspects of the situation, then feel what your gut wants and your analysis suggests. The good thing is that once you have a proven track record as a sales professional, you can typically find another position in sales if you want to return to it.                                                                                                                                                                                                          Best of luck to you Lisa, and onward in clear-sighted decision making,  Coach Joan
Getting 2020 off to a GREAT start!

Dear Readers,

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and the best of career success as you move into the new year, the new decade of 2020!

What is the best I can offer to you for this new beginning??

Here are three tips which most professionals wish they had done all along.

Start now…

Keep Up with Your Network:

2. Communicate Achievements and Aspirations to Your Manager:  It is so vital to communicate well with your boss. They are not mind readers. It is so valuable for them to get periodic updates from you about your achievements, your aspirations and your ideas. Some companies require monthly status reports, even weekly. Some do not. But make it a regular habit to communicate with your boss. If you are ambitious and looking for a promotion or raise, tell them, and then ask what steps you need to take to reach your goals. So often bosses are taken by surprise when an employee is disappointed they did not get a promotion or a raise. Do not assume your boss knows that! Have a one on one meeting to discuss your goals. Start out with your achievements and contributions to lay a groundwork for credibility and proven performance. Then state your goals and ask how you can best reach them. If you are looking to earn another degree or take classes in your field, discuss that with your boss. Communicate!

3. Do Great Work!  I know this should go without saying, but having been a corporate manager for decades, I will tell you that employees sometimes don’t follow through on what they say they will do. Make sure you are reliable and you are meeting all of your deadlines and doing your work thoroughly. If you are delayed or have a problem, it is vital that you let your boss and or your team know that asap!!! There is nothing like coming to a team meeting and learning that a few of the members did not follow through on their roles and responsibilities. Again, bring up your performance with your manager and ask her/him how you are doing? Be open to constructive feedback, correct any misunderstandings that may have occurred. Do what it takes to be the best performer you can be. Set new goals.

This is a new decade. In 2020 give some thought to improving your work performance. Communicate well, keep you with your network and do GOOD WORK!  Onward in your career success, Coach Joan

Dear Joan,

I knew I wanted to leave my job but I thought it’d be on my terms. So when my manager asked me to come to his office the day before Thanksgiving break, I thought it was just for a routine meeting. But NO, I was FIRED!!! Yes, I knew the company was losing money and things were tight. But I expected to quit on my own terms, after the holidays. I am really in shock! I’ve done a great job, gotten excellent reviews and after 2 years I thought there’d be some loyalty from management. My severance is only 2 weeks and I have counted on an income through January. So many thoughts are swirling in my head and most are fear based. I’m 50 years old and in my profession youth is preferred. Prior to this job I worked in a large company for 20 years and I thought this would be my my last position. Please help me get my thinking right so I can move forward for a job search. I am surprised and down in Santa Rosa,


Dear Tom,

First off, so sorry that you’re going through a layoff and even worse, that it came as a surprise. This is not the scenario you planned and the surprise element alone is a shock to your system.  You are human and change is difficult, especially when it’s change that is thrust upon you and you hadn’t prepared for it.

I have coached hundreds of people through this situation and on to new employment, so first thing to realize is that are you going to go through a process.

Here are the first steps that you need to take:

  1. Give yourself time to absorb what happened. Just as with a death, this is a kind of death, an ending, and an unexpected one. You need to give your system a TIME OUT to absorb the change of circumstances. If you’re like most people, you need to give yourself a few days. If possible, take off and go to new surroundings; the ocean, the mountains, even a good hike outdoors, it needn’t be an expensive trip to Hawaii! So first give yourself a breather and let your family know what’s happening. Also, assure them that you will rebound and things will be OK. Perhaps set realistic expectations about gift giving this season and get with the new thinking of experiences and recycling good stuff as gifts. As you assure those close to you that you’ll be OK, you will be assuring yourself, too.
  2. Take a realistic look at your current expenses and ability to pay. Perhaps you have a 6 month cushion and can just pull back from some ‘unnecessary expenses’. Perhaps you have  repayment debt payment where you need to contact them and negotiate for more time, perhaps smaller payments. But don’t put your head in the sand. Try to look objectively at your financial situation and see what needs to be done NOW. Look into unemployment. From the way you describe the situation, with a good performance track record, you probably qualify for it.
  3. Boost your CONFIDENCE. Yes! Being laid off, especially with a surprise layoff,  is a confidence killer. Knowing that, you need to do what you can to restore your confidence and rebuild faith and belief in your abilities. I have found the most effective way to do this is with a devise I have created. It is called CONFIDENCE CARDS. It is a series of several playing card size thick paper that has you list one of your key capabilities on the front and the proof points on the back. You are welcome to get a set of CONFIDENCE CARDS from me directly if you write to me at [email protected] Please remember that no one can take away the things you’ve accomplished and they are real!! You need to own them and do affirmations about them so you will project true confidence when you meet with people on interviews or for new connections. Your academic credentials, professionals accomplishments, skills, these are vital to record and remind yourself about. There are many people walking around with these confidence cards in their pockets and purses. They are invaluable to job seekers!!                                                                 Tom, new doors will open. Get some space and time from the layoff. Then, really assess your financial situation and if it’s looking bad, then get a part-time job asap and or apply for unemployment. Yes, take care of the financial side of things. Then, work hard to appreciate your capabilities. Reach out to me if you’d like a set of Confidence Cards. Understand and practice articulating your strengths and capabilities. Then the job hunt begins!! You can do it!!Onward in Your career resilience and success,  Coach Joan

Dear Readers,

I’ve got to share with you updates from a current job seeking client, let’s call her Valerie.  She writes that after an informational meeting at a company she’s very interested in, the individual she met with called to say she was  impressed with Valerie’s background and credentials but sadly, her company doesn’t have any positions open that would be a good fit for her. However, she asked if she had permission to forward her resume to a colleague who is an executive recruiter who might know of appropriate openings. Naturally, my client said, yes. Following that, Valerie emailed me, surprised and happy that this recommendation was being made.

So let’s look at this. The individual Valerie met with was impressed with her and thought to recommend her to the recruiter she knew.

Job Seekers: This is way people sometimes end up getting hired!

As a job seeker you want to do everything you can to create a RIPPLE EFFECT. You meet one person, then they refer you to two others. Then they refer you to others, and your ripple effect grows, you reach more people.

But instead of making it an unintentional part of your job search, I strongly suggest you bring intentionality to the idea of creating a RIPPLE EFFECT. The more qualified people who know about you and your skills, the better chances you’ll find that person who can hire you!  Make your availability known and and your materials circulated far and the right people.


Clearly, as a job seeker you know (or should know) that you need to build effective, compelling job tools; a resume, a linked in profile, letter of recommendation. And you need to become ready for meetings by crafting your clear capabilities and proof points of achievements that support your claims.  You need to research your field and identify companies and organizations you’d like to work in. You also need to prepare intelligent questions that show your knowledge of the company, their competitors, the industry they are in, the challenges and opportunities they face. You need to earn the right to ask intelligent questions but first ‘selling’ yourself by showing that you have the basic qualifications they are looking for.

Let’s make your ripple effect happen! Here are some ways to expedite it…

1.At the end of every job seeking discussion, whether it is an actual interview, an informational interview, a meeting with a former colleague or manager, a professor in your field, anyone who might be connected with anyone who might know of a job in your field, you ask the following question at the end of the meeting:


Then, pause and let them think about that. Listen carefully as they might mention people for you to contact directly, they might offer to put a word in about you and you should be ready to offer ways to make the connection easy and fast. Offer to send them your resume directly. Ask if they will do an email intro, a Linkedin intro or ask if there’s another way you can help make that ripple effect move quickly!

2. Make a list of all your friends and family who might possibly know someone in your field. Develop what I call a ‘Friends and Family Letter’ in which you ask for their help in your job search process. Let them know what kind of position you are looking for, suggest some names of organizations on your target list, include any geographical or other parameters and attach your resume and linkedin profile. Make it easy for them to help you! Make it easy for them to help the ripple effect go far and wide.

Yes, readers, please see your job search as creating a ripple effect in helping you to find the right people, leading to the right career opportunities.

Wishing you success in your job search,

Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

Am I the only one who really wants to find meaningful work that is not a part of the consumer, capitalistic, dog eat dog world? I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and I’m very interested in helping people. I have no idea how to get a ‘real job’ and have been working the same construction job I did in high school. How do I get a ‘real job’ but not feel like I’m a part of the corporate world which is frankly hurting our planet and just making more and more money to fuel materialism? I also want to stay in Sonoma County where I grew up.

Ian the Idealist

Dear Ian,

Congratulations on completing your college degree!! It shows that you set your goal and worked toward completion. Good job! No w the transition time, launching from college life to career launch. And sadly, they really don’t teach the process of exactly how to make that transition. Most colleges have career centers but students often say they are not helpful or they don’t know how to really use those resources. But  that said, I think you have more going for you than you realize. Many people don’t know what they value and just look to get a job, presumably based on their skills and interest, and land in whatever is available and highest paying.

That is not you, Ian.

You have a strong sense of purpose. You want to make the world a better place. You want to contribute in a way that helps people directly.  Bravo!

That means you are a perfect candidate for the non-profit world.

Music to your ears: In the non-profit world you will find your tribe of people who are also committed to helping to improving things!!

It is vital to work among people with whom you share values. You clearly value using your time and energy to make the world a better place. Non-profits are your career sector!!

There are for profit and non profit organizations. Non-profits are set up with a specific mission that often entails being of help in some way in our society. That is in contrast to a for-profit business oriented company whose mission is first and foremost to make a profit, by selling services or products.

That is NOT what you are interested in.

Now, how do you find out what opportunities you should explore? First of all, being in Sonoma County, California, recognize that you are in the county that has the largest number of non-profits per population than any other county in California. There are many do-gooder organizations for you to explore!

The first thing to do is to get a sense of the range of non profits in your local area. You can Google to find a list of non profit organizations in Sonoma County. You will see that they are focused on topics ranging from healthcare to helping the environment, to supporting education, helping animals and more. Go down the list and look for the category or categories where you are most interested in making a contribution.

Next, look to have informational interviews with people who work at the various non profit agencies.

Makes sure to put together a resume that highlights your education, work experiences, volunteer work, key academic courses and include an Objective of working in the non profit sector.

Write a cover letter that explains your interest in the non profit arena, your attraction to their mission in particular and the skills and passion you are bringing to your career with them.

You can also Google to find ‘careers in non profit’ to explore the various roles that people play.  Once you identify some non profits that are appealing to you, see if you can make the time to do some volunteer work there. It gives you the chance to get to know various organizations and people and sometimes people get hired into an organization after they prove themselves as fine volunteers and a position opens up that matches their skills. By then they are a known entity and have proven their commitment through the volunteer work.

Onward in your idealism and finding work in a local non profit.

Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

After decades of being self employed and successfully owning and running my own small business I am ready to call it quits. I’d like to move into to a full time management position in an established organization. I look forward to being part of a team and having a regular paycheck and benefits. I’m tired of always having to chase business. The problem is that I’ve done some informational interviews consistently get the question of how I would fit into an organization and work for a boss after so many years of being independent and on my own.

How can I satisfactorily answer that concern as I truly do feel I would be an excellent employee and had a couple of years in a large organization at the start of my career.

Thank you,

Susan in Santa Rosa

Dear Susan,

I can understand that the grass looks greener at this point. You have probably had to hustle to keep your business going for all those years. Plus, health benefits, vacation and sick pay are something you have probably had stretch to provide for yourself. That is often the lament of independent business owners.

That said, I hope your motivation is a lot more than just getting benefits and having dependable work.

Let’s look at your candidacy from the perspective of a hiring manager within an organization. They are looking for candidates who have the skills to do the job, the ability to work in a large organization, understand the business that you would be entering and have true enthusiasm and interest in the job.

Here are the top 4 things they’d be looking for and ways you might position your background in a positive way:

  1. SKILLS – The job description will list the skills and experience they are looking for. If you look at the skills themselves it doesn’t matter whether you did those things in a small or large company. For instance, if they are looking for project management skills, you might well have demonstrated those on your own. If they are looking for financial management skills, you must have had those in running a business. It’s important that you stress the SKILLS more than where you did those.
  2. UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR BUSINESS/INDUSTRY – If you are applying for a job in a new industry, either read up on it, attend some professional classes, go to the web sites of notables in that industry and show you are conversant in the issues, challenges and opportunities that are happening today. Be up to date and current. Perhaps you can even volunteer at a professional organization in that industry to show your interest and knowledge, your network of people in that industry can  expand.
  3. MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE – If you are looking for a management position it is imperative to show your management capabilities. Even though you ran your own business you must have had vendors to manage and perhaps assistants as well. Be conversant about your management style and give examples of how you have successfully managed people and how you have recognized potential and developed people, too.
  4. WHY THE TRANSITION AND WHY NOW: Think through the reasons you are attracted to being a part of a large organization. You needn’t mention the benefits or time off, that is obvious and not an attractive reason for an employer to hire you!! You might talk about looking forward to being a part of a team of smart, energetic people and that you enjoy working with various types of people and getting work done as a team. You might talk about the respect you have for that particular company and mention key reasons you are impressed by them. Talk about their competitors, too, and why you are much more interested in their company and this position. You might also touch on your early on experiences in a large company and how you feel that at this point you’d like to return to that, but this time in a management position.                            Susan, be clear about all of the successes and achievements you had as a business owner. It’s very impressive to have had a decades long business! And make sure to go into meetings with very clear reasons you’d be a great fit and that you’re a  proven winning professional.                                                                                                                           Onward in your successful career transition, Susan.  Coach Joan

Dear Readers,

I’d like to share a winning career tool with you, one  that has helped many  clients become the candidate of choice, even if they didn’t have the most competitive credentials. This tool can differentiate you from other candidates and put you in the lead. It does this by showing that you have put more thought into the process, bring more self awareness, and you are providing more comprehensive information about yourself than 99% of the other job seekers.

Everyone prepares a resume, and a resume is the standard tool of introduction. But I suggest, you differentiate your introduction and arrive with a RESUME PORTFOLIO.  It is something that goes beyond the traditional resume in showing who you are as a self aware candidate who can best show why and how they are a great fit for the job. The RESUME PORTFOLIO also shows that you are willing to go above and beyond in your efforts to get to the head of the pack.

OK, so what does a RESUME PORTFOLIO consist of?

A RESUME PORTFOLIO has the stand listing of employment, education and key achievements included. It also contains a clear objective so potential employers can see what you are aiming for and recognize an aligned with their needs.

But a RESUME PORTFOLIO also includes the following items:

  1. A CAREER STORY : This involves some real thinking and analysis. It is typically a one page story that explains who you are and how you developed into the person who is qualified and excited about doing the job to which you have applied.  For example: A recent college grad client had majored in both art and engineering. He had been a visual storyteller from his childhood, yet he loved to take things apart and build things. You might think of those as disparate and disconnected interests but he explained how they relate and how the combination of the two capabilities make him ideally suited as a user interface designer. He prepared his one pager that included visual examples to show his art skills and he made the story clear and concise to show analytical, clear thinking skills.
  2. LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Although not asked for, my candidates always include letters of recommendation from professors, past employers, colleagues, professional association colleagues and more…Letters that strongly show that you are a proven, capable person in your field and also talk to your soft skills, too. Employers want to see that you are capable and that you get along with others well. By collecting and showing your letters of recommendation you are creating a positive impression of your candidacy, even before it’s been requested. This shows you are planning ahead and putting in the extra effort toward your candidacy.
  3. PERSONAL FOLDERS: Although you can electronically send in your resume, career story and recommendations, I always strongly suggest that my client prepare individual folders for every person they will be meeting with. You can typically call ahead and inquire about the names and titles of the people you want to meet with or will meet with and you can hand write their names on the folder, along with your name and the date. One client was interviewing for a competitive nursing job at a top university teaching hospital. She knew she would have a panel interview and she worked hard to find out the names and titles of all the people on the panel. When she walked into the room (dressed professionally) she handed a RESUME PORTFOLIO FOLDER to each of the people on the panel. She made sure to have eye contact and she confidently said that just in case they hadn’t had a chance to see her materials online, the whole package was here. She reviewed the contents of the folder and gave them a few minutes to go through it.  YES, she got the job! Afterward, she was told that everyone on the panel was tremendously impressed with her preparation and the quality of her materials.                   Yes, when you are applying for good jobs there is typically competition out there. I saw do all you can to differentiate yourself, make it easy for the potential employers to know you and like you. Give a little extra time and work into preparing a RESUME PORTFOLIO that will distinguish you and give you additional confidence as well.              Onward in your career success,

Coach Joan