Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting Help In Telling Your Story

Among the most common questions I get come from people who are considering hiring a career coach. Whether your goal is a promotion, a new position, or a complete career change, hiring a career coach can be a great investment because of the impact it can have on the way you tell your story.

To help with this decision, I have posted an online guide called 11 Questions To Consider Before Hiring A Career Coach.

Before you check out the article, let's see if you even need a career coach. To begin, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Have you ever thought to yourself?:
    "I know I'd be great at that job if only someone would give me a chance" or "I would love that job, but I could never make any money doing that."

  • Do you struggle with the concept of networking and/or feel that you have fewer valuable contacts than others?

  • Do you ever find yourself apologizing for your age, level of experience, or education?

  • Have you sent out résumés for jobs you know you'd be perfect for and have not received a response?

  • Do you have trouble getting interviews or turning interviews into job offers?

  • Are interviews uncomfortable because you find it difficult to talk about yourself without feeling like you're bragging?

  • Given the economy, do you worry that you may have to settle for a job or salary below what you know you deserve?

  • Do you worry that your unemployment compensation and/or severance will run out before you find another job?

  • Have you been out of work longer than you ever expected?

  • Do you feel stuck in your current job or no longer find it satisfying?

  • Do you feel your job, and the jobs of your co-workers, are in jeopardy?

If you answered "Yes" to even one question above, working with a career coach could help you streamline your efforts.

If you answered "Yes" to more than 3 questions, the right career coach could help you shave weeks or months off your search. When you think about what you expect to earn in a typical week, the opportunity cost of NOT working with a coach is probably a lot higher than the investment you'd make with even the most expensive coach.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Concert Violinist

In this series of posts, I am sharing a variety of real-life examples of people who have changed the way they are perceived--and in some cases, the way they perceive themselves--simply by reframing the way they tell their story.

Installment 5
The installments would not be complete without one of my favorite examples of personal repositioning. Around the time I was writing Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Don't Have A Leg To Stand On, I received a call from a former colleague to see if I would be willing to help a young woman who interviewed unsuccessfully at Chicago ad agency, Leo Burnett.

As it happened, the young woman was a concert violinist who had played with Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Moody Blues. Her resume was impressive, but it didn't make sense from an advertising perspective. People were impressed, but probably found themselves thinking: "This is great, but we don't have an orchestra."

After spending three or four hours with her, I was clear that she was passionate about advertising. What I didn't fully understand was how the interest developed. Being able to trace her passion was a critical piece of the puzzle because without it, we wouldn't be able to make the case that advertising was the Next Logical Step in her professional development.

Thanks her willingness to do a complete a thorough personal inventory, we uncovered the missing links. In addition to her work as a violinist, this young woman had been managing a virtual string ensemble. It all started when people asked for her advice about hiring classical musicians for weddings and events. Since she knew the music and had an extensive address book of contacts, she started a business. By working with the clients to determine what they wanted and leveraging her knowledge and contacts to provide what they needed, she was effectively functioning as an account management person.

By describing her role managing and promoting the string ensemble, and quantifying a variety of other strategic thinking and problem-solving achievements, we repositioned her as a born marketer who happened to be a concert violinist. This was quite a bit different than her first effort when she came across as a concert violinist who suddenly wanted to work in advertising. With this new positioning, she reapplied to Leo Burnett and earned a coveted position at the company—despite the fact that she had never taken a single marketing or advertising course.