Stuck? Unemployed? Ready to follow your passion?
Learn the process to transform your career: an interview with Linda Sollars
Linda Sollars, is President of Creating Purpose (www.creatingpurpose.com) and is one of Denver’s most well know job-seeking consultants. She will be leading the career reinvention seminar at next week’s AH Jobs List Reinvent Event which will be held on Wed., November 9 at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver. Two of Linda’s clients who have successfully reinvented themselves will sit on a panel to discuss their career reinvention process.
Linda provides her inspiring, heartfelt and common-sense approach to job development and has transformed jobs seekers in defining their personal brand and aligning their strengths with a solid foundation of purpose, quality and success. She provides individual sessions and workshops designed to recognize core visions and values and to develop solid networking and job search strategies.
She spent 20 years in senior level marketing positions before transitioning into career coaching and consulting several years ago after discovering her purpose in empowering others. She has been a featured panelist on CBS, Channel 4, Beating the Recession, featured expert on ABC, Channel 9, Get Me A Job! and the national forum, Careerwell. She is also the keynote speaker at many conferences and events regionally and nationally.
Linda holds a master’s degree in Adult Development, with an emphasis in Leadership and Coaching, as well as an advanced certification from University of Denver in Training and Development. She is also an Affiliate Professor at Regis University and is on the UCOL Alumni Board of the University of Denver.
Recently, I sat down with Linda to discuss the process she takes job seekers through and some of the common challenges as well as successful habits of professionals who have reinvented their careers.
Linda can you talk a bit about the career reinvention process you take job seekers through?
Most of my clients, when they first come to see me, are either stuck in a job they don’t like and want to get out of, are recently unemployed, or want to follow a passion and don’t know how. Most of the people who reach this stage simply don’t know what to do; they are stuck.
The first thing we work on is determining who they are before they decide what it us they want to be.
To do that, I take them through a very specific three step process.
First, we work on recognizing and owning their unique strengths and values. How would they describe themselves? What would their co-workers say about them? What do they care about at their core? I ask my clients to talk about the strengths that characterize who they are and also ask them to give specific examples of how they have used these strengths in the past. We go through assessments and exercises I’ve designed in order to come up with a personal statement of strengths that teaches people how to talk about themselves in terms of WHO they are as opposed to their skill sets.
Second, we work on motivational style. What gets them up in the morning? What is it that sends them out there every day with aspirations to accomplish something and be successful? How they motivate themselves is critical in determining the type of position that is successful and satisfying.
Third, we work on a process I call career design – a very specific, personal and powerful format that answers questions about what they want their ideal work situation to be.
We look at where you want to work, how far do you want to go, how much travel do you prefer, how much money do you want to make, what kinds of benefits do you expect, what kind of vacation schedule do you prefer, how many people do you want to work with, do you want to work from home?
Reinventing or transforming your career seems overwhelming. How do you manage someone’s anxiety about reinvention?
So many of the people who begin this process with me have a feeling that the world is controlling them and when we break it down into these three manageable areas, it switches their view so they feel as if they can manage and are in control of their situation and their aspirations.
Going through this three-step process, which is a very personal, specific and a very thoughtful introspection, also provides the basis for developing a resume and their LinkedIn profile in a way that that communicates their strengths, their motivations, their skills and the type of work that will match their values and the values and culture of an organization.
We then take a look at different companies and organizations that fit their career design. They have already decided whether their strengths and skill sets are going to work for a large or mid-size company, a start-up or perhaps they want to follow a career path in the nonprofit world.
At this point, they have a clear vision and mission that is now aligned with their strengths, their motivation and their career design, communicated on their resumes, their cover letter, their networking pieces, and it is much easier for them to discuss their goals and expectations with prospective employers, either in informational interviews or at actual job interviews.
As a matter of fact, I’ve had several clients who were offered positions during informational interviews because they were so clear about expressing who they were, what their motivation style was, what their skill set was and what it is that they were really passionate about.
When people want to transform a part of their lives – whether it be their health, their finances, or in this case, their career – there are certain habits, beliefs and regular routines they need to begin to follow. What are the habits of those who successfully transform and reinvent their careers?
The first thing is passion. You have to have a passionate belief that you WANT to change.
If people come to me and say, “Anything is better than what I’m doing now,” I’m very clear that this is not enough, because they will immediately fall into the next thing that comes up.
Second, they need to own their passion as a unique, personal specific goal.
Finally, they connect their passion, strengths, skills, and motivation with specific careers.
Some of the things that people develop, in terms of habits and patterns, are the specific outcomes they design; they work on a specific item each week that leads to an outcome so that there is a very real sense of progress.
I also tell people – because it can be overwhelming – that this is a process and there needs to be a focus on each step. Trying to progress too quickly will not lead them to where they want to be; there needs to be a real sense of focus, along with quality time and effort put into each step.
Ultimately, they replace bad habits or patterns with good ones. Over time, they begin to realize not only what was causing them to freeze when asked the question, “Tell me about yourself,” but they are comfortable, confident and passionate in expressing their skill sets, what makes them unique, what motivates them and what specific strengths they bring to the table.
The last thing I work with people on is job descriptions. Does the job description match my career design, my motivation style, my strengths and my career design? If not, we move on to the next job description and that’s okay. This reinvention is about matching their goals to positions that meet their expectations and no longer trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. When we find a job description that does match, I teach them how to break it down, line by line – so that they can respond to almost all of the things in the description that they have either done or have a passion for.
What’s one of the biggest challenges for job seekers?
The biggest challenge is working with individuals to understand their strengths and their motivation and then have to express these to someone else. It’s about developing that clarity – the confidence – about who they are.
This is difficult for a lot of reasons.
Many people feel they have lost their edge. They’ve been beaten down at their current job. They’ve faced overwhelming rejection looking for a job. Regaining confidence and self-esteem is a process. For most people, talking confidently about themselves seems unnatural – we’re told from an early age not to brag.
As I tell people: strengths are like the color of your eyes. When I say “I have brown eyes,” no one is going to argue with me that I have brown eyes. When I say that “I’m creative,” I’m creative! That’s part of the strengths I have had since a very young child. I know how to do creative things well and that’s a strength I bring to the table. It’s not bragging – it’s the confidence of knowing this is who I am! You may have known it your whole life but not acknowledged it, but it is still who you are! Once you understand this, and own it, the confidence flows.
Too often, we run into this “imposter syndrome” – this voice that is sitting on our shoulders telling us “What are you thinking? You really don’t know what you are doing.” Or we convince ourselves that someone is going to come in and say “We really don’t want you here anymore.” It forces us to constantly feel as if we are being judged by others expectations.
Once you know that your strengths are owned by you and they are not measured by anyone else – just like you eye color – then you get to a point where you don’t compete against this voice and it is actually replaced with that red-hot confidence and courage to make a change.
For many job seekers, starting in their mid-30s, they begin to reflect on their current job or career path and pangs of regret seep in. There’s a sense that they are stuck in a job or a career path that doesn’t reflect who they really are or what it is they really want to be doing. Do you see that?
I work with a lot of people who struggle with this; they absolutely don’t want to be doing what they are doing. They’ve spent so much time and money on their educations, they’ve been working successfully for a number of years and progressing their careers, are making good money and in everyone else’s eyes, they’ve reached their pinnacle. But, they absolutely hate their jobs to the point, sometimes, that it is mentally paralyzing to go into work.
Often this is the result of not having acknowledged their passion.
They might have recognized their passion in college, but they focused on careers that their parents thought they ought to be doing, or a career they thought was going to make them money, help them become financially stable, pay off their student loans, raise a family and buy a new house, a car and take a vacation every once in a while.
It’s clear that their passion doesn’t lie with what they are doing and when I talk with them about their passion, they have very different ideas about what kind of work they’d prefer to be doing. But it is also a very scary situation for them because change is always challenging.
How do you resolve this fear?
It’s probably the number one thing I hear from folks who are frustrated with their current jobs. Through the career design process, we try to answer all of the questions that help people to resolve these fears.
How much money do you need to make? What expenses do you have? What’s the work-life balance you are seeking? What can happen if you are out of a job for 4 months? We ask all of those questions in the very beginning to assist the reality of their personal reinvention. Many people simply say they can’t give up their jobs, no matter how much they hate going to work each day.
I tell them their career does not have to be an “either/or” scenario. This can be about “and/both” so they can stay in the position they are in and start looking at the options out there following their passion. Is it going to take some time? Yes. Will it take 15 years? No. It’s going to a few months of working on the process during the time they have available – in the evenings and on weekends for example. I would never tell someone to quit their job tomorrow to pursue their passion unless they could afford to do so and have given serious thought to how they can realistically make this work for them.
Read more about Linda Sollars at www.creatingpurpose.com