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What Happens When You Tell Lies to Gain a Competitive Advantage?

We are living in uncertainty times and no one knows what the new normal is going to look like after this pandemic. No where is there more angst than in the job market. Many people have been laid-off or furloughed, and some of those who are still employed are nervous about their future. And with the unemployment rate at an all-time high, it is tempting to fudge credentials when applying for jobs. BUT, lying on your resume can hurt your professional reputation.

In a blog post titled Resume Fraud and the Law, the writer from Zelikman Law, states, “It is not uncommon to embellish one’s credentials in the course of an interview or through a resume in order to “get one’s foot in the door.” To a certain degree, most people are guilty of some form of self-aggrandizement when employment is within reach.” 

It has become a common practice over the years for some job seekers to do exactly that – deliberately lie on their resume – and it runs the gamut from entry level candidates to executives.

Some of these individuals have been caught fabricating their accomplishments and churning out information that is incorrect. Some have been rewarded with job opportunities by misrepresenting facts. A former Blue Jays manager also lied on his resume and had to resign. Here’s a list of more recent ones:

A former deputy assistant secretary in the US State Department had to resign from her job for allegedly lying on her resume. It appears she had built a career out of faking her accomplishments and inflating her educational achievements. She even created a fake Times Magazine cover. Why would she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

A former admissions director at MIT was forced to resign after 28 years because it was discovered she lied on her resume when she applied for the job.  She claimed she had had three degrees when she only had one. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

An article by Business Insider lists several successful executives who also lied on their resumes. It includes the former CEO of Yahoo, Herbalife, MGM Mirage, Bausch & Lamb, and others. Why did these CEOs do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

In some countries you can get jail time for lying on your resume.

One Australian woman pretended to be actress Kate Upton, and got a government job as Chief Information Officer (CIO). She is serving a 25-month sentence in jail for this act. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

Back in 2002, the former CEO of a television station in New Zealand, Canadian John Davy, was sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to one charge of using a document — his resume — “to obtain a benefit or privilege”. He stated he had an MBA from Denver State University, but the degree was a counterfeit credential sold online. He said he had worked with the BC Securities Commission in Canada. That wasn’t true either. The Commission didn’t have any record of him working there. Why did he do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark reported 87% of survey respondents believe that some percentage of candidates misrepresent themselves on applications and or resumes.

The Georgetown Professor Who Falsely Claimed She was Black

The biggest lie of them all is what Jessica Krug did. For years she pretended to be Black when she knew otherwise. She also created a new identity as Jess La Bombalera an AfroLatina activist from the Bronx. The twist here is that Jessica Krug aka Jess La Bombalera is an associate professor at Georgetown University.

In Krug’s own words on Medium, “To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness. I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring. People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love.”

Krug, as mentioned above, is a Professor at George Washington University where she has taught African history and African diaspora courses since 2012. Her book, Fugitive Modernities, about slavery, was published in 2018 by Duke University Press, and was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize, named after two Black American icons.

Why do people lie on their resumes and embellish their credentials? To gain a competitive advantage! But what would drive someone to pass herself off as Black and assume an added identity, as an Afro Latina? She has said it’s because of mental health issues she has battled since childhood. I am not going to second-guess her; that’s for the medical experts to do. Did she receive grants, fellowships, scholarships? If so, then it would appear she benefited from spaces and resources that could possibly have gone to Black and Latino professionals. This could be considered cultural appropriation.

Lying on your resume is bad; seriously lying for years about your identity and misrepresenting your lived experience is worse. Whether you are looking for a job or a position in academia, do not embellish the truth. If you do, your integrity and reputation will be adversely affected. Your deception will be uncovered, and the consequences could be severe. You will either have to repay your employer or spend some time in jail. As for Ms. Krug, Georgetown University is investigating, and no one knows what the penalty, if any, will be.

As a job seeker, you may be quite desperate to find a job, but now is not the time to participate in such unethical job search practices. The responsibility is on you to carefully consider what you list on your resume. As the Zelikman blog post states “…when applying for a job, the best advice is the simplest: be honest.”

Sources:

NPR – White Professor invented her Black identity

Forbes – Jessica Krug admits she falsely claimed Black identity 

 

Take Your Knee Off Our Necks!

Micheile Henderson-Unsplash

The world saw how the life of George Floyd was snuffed out of him by the white police officer who had his knee on his neck. To say it was outrageous is an understatement, and people immediately condemned what they saw. For me, I felt it on a deep, personal level because I have a husband, a son, brothers and nephews.

But, here’s one uncomfortable truth: after the dust settles, the invisible ‘knee-on-the-neck’ of black people in the workplace and in our schools will continue, unless some things change.

The Peel District School Board that has long ignored the cries of black parents about the treatment of our children was forced to acknowledge their knee-on-the-neck behaviour after parents, community members and two trustees decided enough was enough. It took the intervention of the Minister of Education to shake things up.

Being quiet is comfortable. Being silent serves no one, and I am done with both. For anyone who watched that white officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he breathed his last breath, I would like you to envision the same thing happening to black people’s careers in their places of work.

Highly-qualified black people are being denied opportunities solely on the colour of their skin; having their careers stifled because they are not a ‘good fit’; being passed over for promotions or being told “you were a close second”. How do I know this? I am a career coach who often hear from my black clients about their experiences, and I believe them because I have my own personal stories. The emotional tax they are paying in the workplace is equivalent to having a knee on their necks, and it’s suffocating.

Although I have long left the corporate arena, I have experienced having a knee on my neck when a less-qualified white woman who had joined the company as a temp three months prior, was given a job in the corporate affairs office, a position for which I was interviewed. I was with the company for three years at the time. When I asked HR for an explanation, especially when I had had two certificates in public relations and had previously worked in the field, I was told I was ‘a close second’. How could I be a close second when the woman neither had the experience nor the education for the role?

A highly-qualified South Asian woman was also interviewed. We compared notes. She was with the company a bit longer than me, but she said she didn’t want to ruffle feathers. I told her I would speak up about my situation, and if it benefited both of us, so be it.

Another experience when I had the knee of racism on my neck was when a white woman at a well-known non-profit told her staff that they shouldn’t hire me for a workshop because people “won’t show up”. Well, people used to show up when I delivered the workshops for free. Nepotism got the better of her and she chose her friend for that paid opportunity. I am looking at her right now with the smug of perceived superiority on her face, probably still denying black people opportunities in that same space. It was not long after that I was asked by the YMCA in Windsor to deliver a keynote to 400 new immigrants for which I was paid.

Prior to the COVID19 lockdown, I was in a Tim Hortons waiting to be served when I overheard two middle-aged white ladies talking. One told the other that she had applied to work at that same Tim Hortons and the manager told her he would get back to her if he didn’t find a qualified candidate. Her friend asked her if she had heard back. She said “No, but it’s probably because I am white!” I was a bit taken aback but thought to myself, “How the tables have turned!”

As I said in a previous article when I was zoom-bombed during an online workshop in April, when black people tell you about what’s happening to them, don’t be too quick to judge. Believe them. Not only believe them but make a concerted effort to become an ally. A true ally does not keep silent. Begin by authentically reaching out and building relationships.

Let me hasten to add that having a ‘knee on the neck’ in the corporate workspace is not only a black and white issue. This means I am not going to give a pass to other people of colour. It is easy for you to say, “I am not one of them!” because that makes you comfortable, but many of you exhibit the same behaviour. Remember, what lessens one of us, lessens all of us.

It is heartening to see people of all hues protesting because they saw what happened to George Floyd, thanks to a cell phone. That is what fair-minded people do. But it would help if some of those same people would step up and challenge those with a biased mindset, or those who spread misinformation in the workplace. Here are some ways you can help your black coworkers cope when a knee is on their necks:

  • Don’t let fear hold you back. Decide to wade into uncomfortable waters and speak up when you notice inequities at work.
  • Don’t be afraid to rock the boat, because sometimes to steady the ship, you need to rock it.
  • Don’t just invite them to sit at the table (that’s optics); make sure they are contributing to the discourse in meaningful ways (that’s inclusion).
  • Don’t be another Amy Cooper. Use your position of power and privilege to help not hurt.
  • Don’t pass off casual racism or microaggressive  behaviours as jokes. It’s hurtful and insulting.
  • Don’t imply it’s because of quota or lowering of standards when a black person gets a promotion. Check their credentials.
  • Don’t accept the status quo at work; act. Inaction is not only the result of fear, but the cause of fear. 

COVID19 has laid bare the stark realities of institutionalized racism on all fronts, but black people and people of colour can’t do it on our own. When the dust settles, let’s not return to business as usual in the workplace and in our communities. Prepare to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The quotes below speak directly to what leaders in the workplace can do:

Minda Harts, author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table said, “…it’s extremely hard to constantly hear your leadership talk about diversity and inclusion and take no real steps toward hiring and retaining diverse talent.”

Darryl White, CEO at Bank of Montreal said in a recent LinkedIn post: “There can only be one response to racism and violence and that’s to deepen our commitment to making change. There is no easy path, we all have very hard work to do.”

It’s time to hold your leadership accountable to what they say they will do. When we do that, racism, bigotry and ‘knee-on-the-neck’ behaviours cannot thrive.

 

10 Ways to Support Your Career Coach & Resume Writer Colleagues During COVID19

www.thewrighcareer.com

As we brace for what will certainly become the ‘new normal’, the grim reality is that some businesses will thrive and some will not survive. Hopefully, those of us in the career space will be on the thriving end of things. Crisis tends to bring opportunities; we only need to look for them.

At the moment, many of us are engaged in activities aimed at supporting job seekers and our clients during this COVID19 crisis. There are free webinars and online courses on a wide array of career and job search topics, and based on comments I have heard and read, these actions are having a positive impact.

Amidst all of this, it occurred to me to ask the question, how are we doing as a career collective? What support do we have or need? What are some simple ways we could support each other (for free), during this time?

The ten tips on the attached image would be a great place to start. Are there others you could add?

Which career coach or professional resume writer could you reach out to today?

Kick Ageism to the Curb…Your Career Isn’t Over!

A day before presenting on Ageism to a group of mostly baby boomers, I asked my LinkedIn community if they could provide some tips on the topic that I could add to my own resource kit to share with the group. The ‘ask’ was for ONE tip from each person.”  The community’s response was overwhelming!

In appreciation for their generosity, I decided to curate the content (mostly verbatim), and make it available to contributors and other interested parties. The information and contributors are not listed in any particular order.

It’s important to note that, while ageism is a two-way street where younger workers also face discrimination, this particular discussion relates to older workers and the challenges they face in the workplace.

Click on the link below to download your copy:

Kick Ageism to the Curb-Your Career Isn’t Over_Crowd-sourced Resource

Keep adding to the job search debate about ageism in the workplace.

 

If You Want Growth, Help Others GROW!

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

If you want growth, help others grow.” ~Tony Abbacchi

Do you remember January 1st, 2010? It seems like so long ago, but I remember it was my first foray into group coaching when I launched a six-week coaching program for  women.

What began with ten women ended with five. After the six weeks, I remember feeling very disappointed and asking myself what could I have done differently to keep the five who did not follow through. I hadn’t yet learned what coaching was about. I thought it meant shouldering the responsibility for the those five women, and if I didn’t and they failed, I was to be blamed. I remember talking it through with my own coach and she said, “You can take the horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink!” Lesson learned!

That self-reflection and self-blame nearly caused me to miss the growth of the other five. What did they do differently? They stuck it out and did the work.

Of the five who dropped out, three are still struggling today, 10 years later. The point is not to call them out (because I would not), but to ask the “What if?” question.

“Dare to dream, but even more importantly, dare to put action behind your dreams.” ~Josh Hinds

Over the past ten years, I haven’t strayed from my mission of supporting women. While I began by engaging in many “under-the-radar” activities with through mentoring and pro bono coaching, in the latter years, the engagement became more public and group-oriented.

“Incremental progress keeps us engaged and helps us grow.”

The start of this particular decade – 2020 – is rare and special. Rare, because it’s the only time we will be able to say we have perfect, 20/20 vision, and claim that “we can see clearly now”. Special, because it’s ‘Double 20’, an opportunity to receive a double dose of whatever we are dreaming of, or aspiring towards – if we persist.

Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Are you ready to GROW?

My vision for 2020 is all about  – Transformation and GROWth. Through my Let’s GROW project, I have committed to helping 20 women grow in 2020. This is specifically for the individuals who are participants in my Sip, Paint & GROW project on January 11, 2020, International Vision Board Day.

We will also be tapping into the growth vs fixed mindset idea advocated by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, MINDSET: The New Psychology of Success.

Here’s a quick overview of the program, which comes into effect after the January 11th Let’s GROW event. I will be:

  • Facilitating coaching conversations through a private Facebook group for one full year, literally for FREE!* There are restrictions. See below.
  • Putting together a generous and motivated group of women committed to building give and take relationships** to advance their own careers, and by default, advancing the careers of others. It will not only be taking, but giving back and helping others (e.g. giving of their time, sharing their resources and network, and making connections).
  • Writing a book to chronicle stories worth sharing:  personal stories, or our dreams and aspirations. While it’s not mandatory, this book opportunity is restricted to any attendee from this 2020 cohort, if they choose. If you are an original member of the Let’s GROW group, and you wish to be a contributor to the book, please contact me.

My overall goal for the Group is for all of us to “contribute wherever we can without keeping score.” (Dr. Adam Grant), and help someone else GROW!

CAVEAT:

  • These coaching conversations* are limited and separate and apart from my regular services. For e.g., if you have a question around interviews or need clarity on an issue, you can ask me, but it’s not a substitute for interview coaching or other services.
  • Other than me, no participant / member is expected to offer FREE coaching services. That would be asking too much of them. However, as part of building a giving and taking relationship, they are asked to offer and receive what I call “Five Minute Favours”. After all, we are building a community.

As Tony Abbacchi says “When you give with expectations, not only will your reputation suffer but so will your mindset.”

** The Give and Take and “Five Minute Favours” concepts come from Dr. Adam Grant’s book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Success.

As you begin 2020, here are six questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I happier now than ten years ago?
  2. What have I done?
  3. What have I learned?
  4. Who have I become?
  5. Am I where I want to be?
  6. Where do I see myself a decade from now?

Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Are you ready to GROW? Contact me now, or engage the services of a coach who can guide you, but please, do something!

To your success!

Case Study: How Coaching Works

(It’s heartwarming when a client can write his own case study showcasing our work together. In negotiating his benefit package, he ended up with a $22,000 salary increase. This is the client referenced in parts of this blog post – Ask for What You Are Worth).

This client was referred to me by a former client. He was preparing to leave one level of government to another.

After we had finished our coaching work together, he volunteered to give me a testimonial. I asked if he could reflect on what it was like working with me, and then send it in his own words.

Here’s what I received. Instead of re-writing it, I have kept it in point form to maintain its originality:

Before Application:

  • I reached out to Daisy this past July for some interview and resume help
  • She responded promptly regarding how the process worked
  • I sent her my resume and job posting as reference
  • She prepared some introductory questions for me to review
  • We set up time for a quick conversation on the phone regarding her services and the potential role

During our initial call, we:

  • Reviewed my resume at a high level
  • Reviewed the job posting in detail
  • Daisy recommended some options to best tailor my resume to the job posting in order to increase the probability of being selected
  • We decided to reconnect if I was invited to an interview

Before Interview:

  • A little over a month after I applied for the role, I was invited for the first round of interviews
  • To prepare for the interview, I reached out to Daisy for some coaching sessions
  • She sent me sample behavioural questions to review. Many of these questions were based on the job posting

 Session 1 (telephone conversation)

  • We identified my challenges and obstacles, and reviewed potential options to overcome them
  • We discussed some approaches to answering key behavioural questions
  • I read a few of my responses to Daisy, and she would suggest ways to improve delivery and timing
  • We strategized on key language and tone to use/emphasize in my responses, significant story lines based on my experience that linked to the job posting
  • Before wrapping up the call, we put a plan in place to prepare for the mock interview in Session 2 which was to take place the night before the first interview

Session 2 (Mock Interview)

  • Began the coaching session with generic questions, practiced responses, tweaked delivery with emphasis on being both concise and informative
  • Reviewed situational/behavioral and scenario-based questions and how best to pivot and address follow up questions
  • Discussed the appropriate length of responses to key questions

Morning of the First Interview:

  • I received a quick pep talk from Daisy on key speaking points and reassurance that I was ready “tell my stories”.

Before Second Interview

  • I was invited to the second round of interviews
  • Daisy provided some additional guidance for the second interview including discussing:
    • General fit for the role
    • Experience dealing with key stakeholders
    • Consensus building

Received Job Offer

Before formally accepting the offer, we discussed negotiation strategies:

  • How to make a case for more money. (I was a bit worried that if I raised the money issue, the offer could be withdrawn. Daisy assured me, as long as I wasn’t being unreasonable, I didn’t have to worry about anything).
  • We discussed benefits and options to include in the offer.
  • I went into the negotiation conversation feeling more confident. The deal was sealed.

Verdict – What it was like working with Daisy:

Daisy is a consummate professional who knows her stuff. She is easy to talk to, patient and honest. I would recommend her in any, and every professional development scenario. For me, she was the difference.

My own words:

Coaching works. It’s a collaboration. The client is the expert, and the coach offers support and guidance to help the client affirm confidently what they already know.

Ask for What You Are Worth!

Pixabay

“In business and in life, you don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.” – Anonymous

In archiving some of my workshop files this past week, I discovered a presentation I gave to a group of mostly International Trained Professionals (IEPs) at University of Toronto’s Rotman’s School way back in 2008. The title: A 30-Day Plan to Put Your Career on the Fast Track. Part of the discussion was about how to speak up and ask for what you want. During the presentation I introduced this Brian Tracy quote:

“The Future Belongs to the Askers: The future does not belong to those people who sit back, wishing and hoping that things will improve. The future belongs to those people who step up and ask for what they want. And if they don’t get it right away, they ask, again and again, until they do get it.”

It was a spirited discussion, particularly around how to advance on the job. I confessed to them that early in my career, I was one of those individuals who believed that working hard would get me noticed and rewarded with a promotion. That was not the case. I discovered I needed to become an advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted. Things changed once I convinced myself of my worth.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of NBC’s Morning Joe, and author of Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, including asking for a raise or a promotion. “Women”, she said, “prefer to work, work, work, hoping the boss will notice”. If you are such an individual, it’s time to lift up your head from all this work, survey the landscape, and devise a plan to ask for what you want.

Valerie Jarrett, then senior advisor to President Obama, and who was quoted in Brzezinksi’s book, said at a point in her career, she felt if she was working so hard, her boss should recognize that she deserved a promotion. It wasn’t until one of her mentors said, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, that she gathered her courage and went to her boss. Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office. “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”, said Jarrett.

What if it’s not a promotion? What if you have been offered a new job and you want to negotiate your salary but you are getting cold feet? That’s what happened to one of my clients last week and he nearly gave up an opportunity to negotiate. The salary was not what he had expected, but he was afraid to ask for more in case the offer was withdrawn. I reminded him that most employers expect candidates to negotiate, and as long as he didn’t appear unreasonable, he shouldn’t worry.

Before returning the call to HR, I asked him to explore some ‘what ifs’: What would he do IF he didn’t get what he asked for? What would he do IF they withdrew the offer? After contemplating his options, he decided to ask for two things: a $5,000 addition to the salary, and reimbursement for his professional membership fee. The initial offer represented a $17k increase, but it was not the $110k he was looking for. We discussed how he would frame the ‘ask’ in one sentence: “Would you consider paying for my professional membership, and could you add $5,000 to my salary?” I suggested that once he asked the question, he should remain quiet; don’t utter another word. Bingo! He received what he asked for. What if he hadn’t asked? He would’ve left $22,000 on the table.

Most people want to advance in their career; be it a better pay, increased responsibility, or more meaningful work, but they are afraid of the ‘ask’ word. They don’t want to topple the apple cart. But, think about this, even high profile individuals like Valerie Jarrett and Mika Brzezinski found it difficult to ask for what they wanted, but when they asked, they got it.

Reflect on your situation:?

  • Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview?
  • Are you hesitant to ask for a raise?
  • Are you waiting on your boss to give you a promotion?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable asking clients to pay for your services?

To help you overcome the ‘afraid to ask syndrome’, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Then prepare to get to the point, being very clear about what you want.

Never doubt yourself when you are sitting at the negotiation table. Know your worth then ask for what you want. Remember, “You don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.”

Your Breakthrough Might Just Be Around the Corner

Photo credit: Pixabay

Right now, you may be feeling discouraged for a number of reasons. You may have done more than your fair share of interviews without getting a job offer. Yikes!

You may have put all your effort into a project; it failed, and your expected promotion didn’t happen, or

You tried every networking strategy you were advised to use, and nothing happened!

You are now thinking “I have reached the end of my tether, and it’s time to give up.” My question would be “Give up, then what?”

Pixabay

June has been a breakthrough month for three women I have been working with. Their stories are different, but they had one thing in common: giving up was not an option.

Their names have been changed for confidentiality reasons:

[Sarah] contacted me several months ago. I have chosen to use a significant portion of her email to demonstrate the relentless way she was going about her search and the strategies she had been using:

  • In about a year, I’ve sent close to 150 resumes, very targeted in most cases. At some point I was applying to a lot of HR jobs but in the last 6 months I’ve been applying to only jobs that I want to do, and researching the companies before applying. 
  • Had approx. 90 phone interviews, 40-45 in-person interviews (1st round), 20 interviews in 2nd/3rd round, and in 5 cases I got to the final round.
  • I do reflect on what went well and not so well in all interviews, take notes, and prepare for other chances. Nevertheless I do welcome any new advice in this area.
  • I follow up when not selected, request feedback, try to reach out later to build a relationship… no luck with that. 
  • I’ve been trying to reach senior people at companies I want to work for, just to have informational interviews.  I send personalized requests, write to them, and follow up twice… not much luck. 
  • I’ve asked most people in my network to introduce me to potential hiring managers, and tell me about jobs in my chosen field. 
  • I also volunteer a lot, I’m super active on LinkedIn

So it’s not that I’m sitting passively and waiting for the phone to ring!  There must be something I could be doing differently….  some interview practice for manager-and-above roles would be beneficial too.”

You are probably thinking that you would’ve given up by this.

Sarah is highly qualified, with an MBA, PMP, and HR (CHRP), certifications. I concluded from her email that she was doing everything right, but I was puzzled by the lack of job offers.

In our conversation, I commended her for her tenacity, a trait that not many people have. She reiterated what was in the email, and I asked her if she had done any assessments. I wanted to get a holistic view at her situation. She said she had just completed a 360o Feedback at work, and it didn’t unearth anything she didn’t know about herself.

During the session, I quickly realized she had some great accomplishment stories. Her homework was to recall some of the questions she was asked and come back with several stories. We arranged to have another conversation a couple of weeks afterwards, to review her homework. After listening to some of her answers, I encouraged her to add more depth to the stories, and allow them to flow naturally.

She continued to get interviews. At one point, when I asked if she had followed up with one particular company, she responded in an email, “I suppose I should have followed up again with the hiring manager but with the discouragement of the rejection I didn’t have the energy to do so.”

I totally understood how she felt. However, weeks later an email arrived with the Subject Line: Good news! The message said, “I have great news to share with you – I got a new job!!!  I am starting June 17th. I’m super excited about it!!!!

She followed up with a Thank-you card:

I gushed with humility, but my role in this was small, compared to her relentless nature. I gained strength from her tenacity.

*********

[Marissa] had been planning to make a career move for months. This is another highly-qualified lady, with two Masters, and a law degree (LLB).

She was being very strategic in her approach; arranging informational interviews and attending formal interviews.

At the end of May, she received a job offer from one of the institutions she had on her target list, but the salary did not meet her expectation. It was even below what she was getting at the time. Opportunities abound with this new organization, but a salary cut would defeat her main purpose for wanting a new job. She struggled with the decision.

We strategized on the best approach, using a T-Chart to weigh the pros and cons. She had already done a lot of the work. After our conversation, I followed up with this message:

“See if you can negotiate even the same salary you are getting now. Employers expect you to negotiate. You can give them a range and make sure your current figure is at the bottom of the range, even though it’s a unionized environment. If that doesn’t work negotiate for other things. You are bringing value!” 

By the time we had our next conversation, she had decided to make a counter offer, and was willing to walk away if they didn’t accept it. Tadaa! She was offered a salary that fell within mid-range of the scale, and her request to take her vacation in August, as she had originally planned, was accepted. She started her new job on June 26, 2019.

*********

[Kaitlin] has been a long time client, and, like many of my clients, we have become friends. I have also worked with her husband. Kaitlin has had her ups and downs with her job search. One of her main concerns was ageism. She is in her sixties, and always wondered how she could compete with younger job seekers, notwithstanding she is university-educated.

On June 12, 2019, she sent an email with the Subject Line “I got a job!” Her message said:

“Hi Daisy, my dear friend who has been such a humble supporter and ‘way show-er’ all these long years while I struggled to get back out into the world!

I received an offer of employment from X company today.  I am thrilled!!

I knew someone who worked there. They put in a good word for me so even in my sixties, I got a JOB!! So grateful!”

Age is a number. Focus on what you will bring to the table, and not how old you are.

Photo credit: Unsplash

What kept these women going? They knew that, although their paths had many a winding turn, they could not give up. Instead, when they needed clarity and encouragement, they reached out to me, and others. It also helped that two of these ladies were attendees at some, or all of my annual career workshops, including this year’s Why Not Me event.

It is said that “Success is a ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket”. This is true. To get to where you want to go you need to continue to work at it, even though it takes guts and perseverance. It also helps to have someone with whom you can talk; a sounding board, who will not only nudge and guide you, but will listen, help you see things from a different perspective, and more importantly, who will tell you the truth. You don’t need anyone who will sugar-coat the truth to make you feel comfortable.

Yes, there are times when discouragement and rejection will surface, and you feel like giving up. But look, whether you’ve been searching for months or years, or whether you’ve failed umpteenth times, my advice to you is to hold on. You have what it takes to get what you want. If you can’t do it alone, seek help, but don’t give up. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.

Do you have a breakthrough story of your own, or do you need help in clarifying your path? Reach out to me. I am only a phone call or email away.

What Jobseekers and Career Changers Can Learn from Tiger Woods’ Spectacular Win

Photo credit: Masters Tournament

Other than my job as a career coach, I am a sports fanatic! I don’t play any sport, but ask me what’s going on and I can tell you. Right now it’s playoff season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, and am getting nervous.

The purpose of this article, however, is the big news about Tiger Woods’ win yesterday, and what job seekers and career changers can learn from it.

It was April 15, 2008, that he won his last major championship. Yesterday, almost 11 years to the day, he won his 5th Masters and added another green jacket. (It was 14 years since he had won his 4th Masters).

What did it take for him to make this great comeback after so many years of personal and professional struggles? His will to win. He said in an interview, “I feel I can win.” He ingrained it in his head that he could win, and went about doing all the little things it took to make it happen.

He didn’t spend time focusing on what his competitors were doing. His eagle-eyed focus was on where he was going and what was at the end – his goal of a fifth Masters championship and another green jacket.

What about you? Can you see yourself being so relentless with your job search or career? Do you see yourself bouncing back from so many failures and disappointments, or, are you getting ready to give up?

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected 27 times by publishers before getting his big break. He was ready to give up, and was planning to destroy his manuscript when he met his friend who had just become an editor at a publishing company. The rest is history!

Tiger said “This stuff is hard. I made a few mistakes at the British Open last year and it cost me a chance to win.” He said he had serious doubts if he could play well enough to win, but when it mattered most, he dug in and won. He told himself that despite not being as strong as in his prime years, he still had good hands and if he could put the pieces together, he could win, and he did.

Your struggles might not be like Woods, but am sure they are no less painful. You too, will have your doubts, you will make mistakes, but I encourage you today to:

  • Create a success plan and harness all the support you can get to see your dream come through.
  • Determine what your strengths are, and capitalize on them. Tiger relied more on his hands because his back was not as strong as before.
  • Be relentless in your pursuits. Remember that “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”.
  • Never give up on your dream even if when it appears insurmountable.
  • Don’t jump off the train while it’s going through the dark tunnel; there’s light on the other side.

Tiger Woods didn’t give up. After a plethora of surgeries, personal failures, and disappointments, he fought his way back to the top. You can do it too. Ask yourself the question, “Why not me?”

Source: Tiger Completes His Historic Comeback

She Re-launched Her Corporate Career After Hitting Rock Bottom


Courtesy of Pixabay

“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.” ~Jim Rohn

When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up! Consider Trudy’s story, a woman I had the honour of working with some time ago. (Name changed to protect her identity).

Her voicemail message said she was looking for career coaching, but her ominous tone left me thinking she needed counselling (therapy). When I returned the call she confirmed she wanted career coaching.

A few years prior, Trudy had given up her corporate job with a major Canadian company due to family obligations. She did a variety of odd jobs that allowed her the flexibility she needed at the time, finally settling as a house cleaner with one of the more popular home cleaning franchises. She received a lot of push back from family and friends when she made this decision, and according to her, “My Italian mother saw it as a step down, and was not happy.” Yes, it was a step down, but she thought it would’ve been a great segue into entrepreneurship and owning her own cleaning business.

A little over a year doing this job, she gave it up, concluding it was not for her. By then, things had changed on the home-front, and she decided she wanted to return to a corporate environment. Not only was she now looking for a new job, but her already low self-esteem had reached rock bottom. Is she going to fit in? How will she position herself after a four-year hiatus from the corporate world?

At the end of our first meeting we agreed to work together, but there was one drawback: she couldn’t afford my fees. I asked her what option would work for her, other than having to reduce my fees, and she said she would schedule sessions whenever she had the money. Not only did I see the pain and frustration she was going through, but also the determination to get back up, and that was compelling.

We made arrangements to have face-to-face sessions twice per month. I would offer her as much support as I could, including short spurts of coaching if absolutely necessary. I also explained that for coaching to effective, she had to commit to doing whatever work and assignments that were necessary. Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

As our work continued, I introduced her to individuals in my network so she could arrange informational meetings. We figured that after a four-year absence from the workforce, she needed to gain insights into current workplace practices and business culture. I developed her resume and cover letter, and coached her on interviews, services that were not included in the coaching agreement.

Two months into the coaching relationship, she said, “I am ready to start my job search, and want to find a job by the middle of next month.”

On her way to her first interview, she stopped by my office to show me her new outfit and to let me know she was wearing lipstick. Trivial, it might seem, but that was an example of increased confidence and transformation.

She didn’t get the job, and was quite disappointed. A week later, on her way back from another interview, she phoned to say she had been offered an administrative position with a leading clothing company, and was hired because of her background in customs and logistics. When we checked the date, it was March 14, exactly one month from the day she set her intention to find a job by the middle of the next month.

Trudy demonstrated discipline, motivation, and perseverance, which helped her move from rock bottom to a new job. These are equal opportunity characteristics that do not require a degree; everyone has access to them.

Some people enter coaching looking for quick fixes, but it takes time to untangle the web of past experiences to get to where one wants to go. And to get results, it’s important to plan purposefully – set goals or milestones – and work diligently to achieve them.

It starts with one small step. If you don’t take that small step and start doing the things that seem frightening, difficult or uncomfortable, you will realize that one year from now, you will be at the same place in your life or career.

Take a chance!