Read on for practical, strategic advice from Troy...
Turning a Layoff Into a Promotion
Q: What would you say were the crucial steps to your amazing transition?
A: For me the most crucial steps were to remain focused, patient and methodical in my approach to my job search. It is very easy to let your emotions get the best of you and become distracted from what you are trying to accomplish. I wanted my unemployment to turn into real opportunity, but that required diligence, and there were many days when searching for the right opportunity I got distracted by the pressures to just find a job, any job. Having a plan I could focus on and routine work to do was a good distraction from the emotional rollercoaster. It is only natural to fear the uncertainty so my advice is to make sure you focus on those things that are in your control.
Q: You Soul searched and Researched before you Job searched. Did it make a difference in the quality of the new job you've found? in other ways?
A: Most definitely. Had I not soul searched or researched I would have been lost when I needed to be the most focused and strategic. Without the confidence in knowing myself and my goals I could have easily entered into another role that was very similar to the one I had previously. It was difficult to think broadly and rely on what I had soul searched. Friends, family colleagues, all wanted to help me get back into the same role I had. They all knew me in one particular way and I’m sure they thought they were most helpful if they helped me do what I had been doing. I needed to rely on my internal understanding of my soul search and remain focused on my research. It helped me sort through the well-intentioned offers and the myriad of online postings and recruiters who needed to fill particular roles. My soul search and research served as my north star to keep me focused and ultimately the job I landed would have not have been on my radar if I had gone the traditional job search route. There is a lot of information online and you need tools like soul search to sift thru otherwise you can be pulled in a million different directions and not be very productive. So yes it helped land a better job that was more in line with the qualities that make me happy at work.
Q: What role did networking (online & off) play in you being sought after for your new job? Were some online sites/tools more helpful than others?
A: Networking is critical. But I had to learn to do it. I had a lot of preconceived notions of what it meant to network and I was wrong on all of them. It is not about calling someone or talking to someone at a cocktail reception and asking for a job. It’s about sharing with everyone you know where you are in your career and where you want to go. There is nothing to be afraid of when you are talking about yourself and knowing who you are, instead it becomes a fruitful discussion about you your skills, capabilities and interests and not and awkward conversation about asking for a job. Once people I knew understood what I wanted and what I was interested in doing the suggestions and offers to help were more meaningful. Gone was the obligatory “let me know how I can help” and instead there were real offers to connect me with people who could help me reach my goals for a new career. By networking I was able to talk to more people who were in positions to hire.
I found LinkedIn to be amazing! It became an obsession. Instead of playing “words with friends” I played on LinkedIn. I challenged myself to find the connections in certain companies and found innovative ways to start conversations with individuals whom I did not have a connection with. I used the linking tool to get a conversation started. It also broke down the traditional barriers to networking. Everyone on the site was willing to make a connection or discuss what they knew about a company, job or industry.
I made a promise to myself to keep networking, even with a new job, and that is twofold. First, it took a lot of effort and people were gracious enough to help the least I can do is keep them informed and second I want to make sure and be available to help the next person going through this process.
Q: Given your recent experience, what helpful tips or advice would you give to others who've been laid off?
A: Don’t be afraid to talk to everyone about who you are and what you are trying to do, whether it is a new role in a new industry, starting your own business or getting a similar job in another company. There is NO shame in being laid off, it is not your fault the company reorganized, or had to close down or sent jobs overseas. I was initially afraid of how I would tell people that I was unemployed and I was surprised how it was not held against me. People are getting laid off in every industry and you should not be ashamed about it. Instead tell everyone about the skills and capabilities you have and how you are using this as an opportunity to find that job that is fulfilling to you and how you will make a meaningful contribution in your next role.
Finally I would say don’t forget to keep in touch with everyone who is helping you along the way. You want to make sure you don’t just contact them when you need something. Your network includes trusted friends and advisors and should be treated as such. They will continue to be invaluable.
Taking time to manage your career leads to better opportunities. As you can tell from Troy's advice and experience, getting on the path to your ideal career starts with your own Soul Search and getting clear on what you'd love to do, the skills you want to utilize, and your work preferences.
I hope his experience inspires you to be optimistic about your next opportunity even if your last job ended in a layoff. KNOW there is something better out there for you just as there was for Troy - you just need to Soul Search and Research BEFORE your Job Search to find it.
If you've been laid-off or dream of a better career, share your vision below. Let's help each other do work we love!
Read on for my commencement address and advice on finding lasting career success no matter when you graduated high school...
To the Class of 2012… CONGRATULATIONS! This is your day. How good does it feel?
NO more homework, NO more assemblies or open house projects. NO more quizzes, exams, papers.
You’ve made it. How GOOD does it feel? Parents & teachers: how happy are you too!?
I know my parents were right there with me during my MMI days. I am very thankful to them for the opportunity. And parents, your kids will appreciate what you did in sending them to MMI as I appreciate my parents today. I know how hard you've all worked & the amount of energy you've all put in to get to this point. It's more than many will accomplish in their entire lives.
When I was here they told us the homework would keep us off the streets & out of trouble. While that may still be the case, rest assured that you've learned a lot more here than just how to keep busy. You may not realize it, but in my experience, everything I needed to know I learned at MMI. I did, and so did you. For starters, you are well prepared for more than just college. Life is a daily test of your abilities but you've proven you can make it through Mr. Cusat's math tests, Senior's Spanish quizzes and Mrs. Titus's papers. You didn't crack under pressure. You rose to the challenge and responded to it.
Not only that, you haven't just learned proper grammar or a new language or how to master calculus, you now know HOW TO LEARN. And you will continue learning & evolving your entire lives. Lifelong learning is not just nice catchphrase. It’s a must in today’s world that is critical to lasting success in life & career. As Darwin said, it's not the fittest who survive but the most adaptable. Knowing how to learn makes you adaptable and will make you successful in any career you choose. I've changed careers five times. Yes, five times.
I started out as an accountant/CPA. Then I became a management consultant. Next up, a corporate trainer. Then an entrepreneur career consultant… a radio host… and now, in addition to that, I’m also a mom – a career in itself!
Two times my employer was the impetus for my transition. But other times I chose to change, and you probably will too. It's OK.
The number of careers one has in a lifetime is increasing with each generation. You will learn & adapt your talents to changing circumstances, & will not just survive but thrive no matter what future employers or future economies undergo.
On top of that, you've conquered a fear most people rank highest in their lives public speaking!
Though you may not yet fully appreciate the years of terror, –I mean “experience” – you have giving assembly speeches, you will soon find that you have no problem expressing yourself and getting your points across.
Without this particular skill, I know I wouldn't have had the courage and experience to host a national career talk show for six years on SiriusXM satellite radio for the Martha Stewart channel or share my views on CNN a dozen times where I was introduced as” one of America's best known career coaches."
Believe me all your hard work will pay lasting dividends too. Having just celebrated my 20 yr reunion, I can honestly say that if you can make it here, you truly can make it anywhere.
I've interviewed & been in the presence of dozens of successful and "famous" people like Martha Stewart, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, & wellness guru Deepak Chopra. From their experience and my own, I've learned a very important career lesson: When passion meets purpose, there's no stopping success.
Yes, they had a strong work ethic, and YOU do too after MMI. They also had a dream, a vision of what they wanted to become. They not only followed their passion but became their dream and made their ideal a reality.
Martha Stewart didn't stop at becoming a caterer. She dreamt of having a TV show and making "living" into a magazine and ultimately a multi-media company. She DID.
Martina Navratilova didn't want to just be a great tennis player in her home country of Czechoslovakia. She wanted to become an international superstar at tournaments like Wimbledon. She DID, even though it meant defecting and leaving her family behind under communist rule.
Deepak Chopra dropped out of a prestigious Harvard program because he wanted to become a revolutionary in the medical field. He DID.
You too have witnessed firsthand the amazing things that can happen when passion meets purpose. We are all here b/c Sophia and Eckley Coxe were socially responsible (before it was cool). The tradition of excellence they started has produced a long list of successful alumni.
My speech as salutatorian highlighted just a few stellar examples of the heights an MMI grad can reach. And that was twenty years ago. The list is even more impressive today. You are now on it! You are now a part of this tradition.
From here on out, as MMI alums, your lives and careers will present bigger, more exciting & more rewarding opportunities b/c of the foundation built here. No dream is too big or goal too bold for an MMI grad to achieve.
I dreamt of being commencement speaker one day. And here I am, speaking to all of you.
It's OK if you don't know exactly what you want your career to be. I certainly didn’t! But NOW is the time for you to allow your passions to shine through, to start your own soul search. I am sure you have already realized where your natural talents and passions lie. Think of an activity or project you’ve been involved with at school. The yearbook, Guys & Dolls, Mock Trial… The kind of thing you just loved doing… loved the people around you… and loved being there until the work got done. That’s how you want to feel when you’re following your passion.
I know this and live this because I focus on helping others find and follow their passions as a career coach. When I take my clients through a process of Soul Search, Research, THEN Job Search, often times what they loved to do (& were good at) in high school still hold true today.
I find we all know what our passion really is. And what I've learned coaching thousands, is that your dreams align perfectly with what the world most NEEDS YOU to do. So here’s your last assignment. (Don’t worry; it doesn’t affect your grades or final transcript.) As you leave MMI and set off to discover more of yourself-- your interests, your passions. --Take notes.
Do your Soul search by crafting your ideal vision. Write about what you'd love to do, your unique gifts and talents, the way you want to make a difference, who you enjoy being around/working with and always include that you make a good income.
Everything is possible.
I encourage you to write it down this summer, and write it in the present tense as if it's already happening. Include the accolades that will make you most proud.
Then Research. I know it's probably a dreaded word, but it can be fun when you're following your passion... like an assignment from a class you actually love. Look for and introduce yourself to people in the careers you'd like to have. They may even be fellow MMI alums. Ask them how they got to where they are today, what it takes to be successful, and what they would recommend for someone determined to get into their field.
Listen & learn. Understand if it’s truly what you want to do. And remember Research can reveal what you don't want as much as what you do. Your vision coupled with Research then becomes your compass for selecting the right college major and applying for the right internships -all setting you on the right path to following YOUR passions.
If I had written down one of my favorite MMI activities, it would have been Mrs. Titus’ introduction to archetypes. The class introduced me to Carl Jung psychology and human behavior. – All of which are very relevant to the work I do today. I’ve even done (and LOVED) graduate work in organizational psychology b/c that same drive and passion still hold true today.
Every one of you will find the same connection back to what you loved doing here at MMI. Write it down now. Start to understand now what really drives you.
Listen to your hearts and trust yourselves to know best what you need to do to be happy and successful. As they say - "The only success in life is being able to live in your own way."
Ok, so you now have your final assignment, but it could end up being your most important one. Besides you've already made it through what may prove to be the toughest academic challenges of your life. This will be easy! ;)
Enjoy this moment & celebrate all the people who've helped you get here from your parents to the faculty & administrators to each other. What a supreme accomplishment on your resume to be a graduate of MMI.
Frank Sinatra was right. If you can make it there, you can make it anyway. And I’ve made it in NYC. But I made it there b/c I made it here first...I would add that if you make it here at MMI, you REALLY CAN make it ANYWHERE!
Congratulations and best of luck Class of 2012!
What do you wish you'd known then that you know now? Share your best career advice with the class of 2012 below...