Recently, two career industry colleagues and I presented a webinar for more than 100 University of Pennsylvania alumnae regarding the issues women face when returning to work. We received such a high level of interest and response that we agreed to share our information here, as well. Today, you’ll hear from Amy Gleklen of Next Game Plan.
Amy is a business-savvy ICF PCC-certified leadership and career coach. She coaches senior and emerging global leaders and teams in the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors, and has a track record of helping clients move to the next level of leadership. She is a leadership coach for the Wharton Executive Coaching and Feedback Program for Wharton MBA students. Amy’s career coaching practice includes working with clients to help them explore career options and develop the skills necessary to make a transition.
By Amy Gleklen
Next Game Plan
As the Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” My clients are generally happier when they have more clarity about where they want to go so they can choose their paths more carefully.
I have a specific methodology when helping clients define their personal career profiles that examines 5 areas: core values, personality, interests, skills, and strengths.
Find your ‘recipe’
Lately, I’ve been using the TV cooking contest shows as an analogy to finding your best path. The contestants are given the same ingredients, but they all come up with different recipes. First you have to be sure that you know what your exact ingredients are, and then you need to make something with them that fits and appeals to you.
You may be considering many recipes. But even when you know your “recipes,” you’ll want to slow down before going after specific opportunities. You’ll need to talk with people who do what you are interested in, and make sure it’s a recipe you’re committed to making. Those contacts will also be great resources for learning.
The more informational interviews you do, the better, so that you can be sure of your direction. Come in with an idea, but stay open. Listen and learn and think creatively about options. Experts in an area would know about niche jobs, jobs that aren’t published, and jobs that are otherwise hard to discover. Remember that you are interviewing them. Develop a list of questions so that you can start to learn which “recipe” you want to make. Use your informational interviews to learn what skills you will need to develop for your recipe to succeed.
Use your special sauce to define your pitch
Next, think about how you could be successful in the careers that are of interest. It’s important that you reflect on prior successes, how you contributed, and how others perceive your value-add. What we’re getting to is what I call your “Special Sauce.” It’s your uniqueness; no one has exactly what you have. The key is finding where it is appreciated and being able to articulate why you are a good match.
Here are 6 areas you may want to think about to help with your branding and differentiation. They will help you understand and craft your message about what makes you stand out.
- Personal Presence: For example, are you a quiet leader, a fast-paced thinker, or a doer?
- Results Orientation: What have you accomplished? What?s your work ethic? What can you and only you do?
- Technical Capability: What knowledge or unique skills will you bring to the job? How innovative are you? How do your strengths and skills interact when you are at your best?
- Self-Awareness / Self-Management: What soft skills are you known for? Do you have any blind-spots or big flaws that you have become aware of? How well do you manage them?
- Communication: How and how well do you communicate?
- Integrity and Trust: What’s your character like? How do others perceive you? What would people go to you and only you for?
Good luck discovering your career recipe and using your “Special Sauce” to land the job!