Quitter to Winner

Monday, October 11, 2010

INTERVIEW: Part two with anti-resume career coach Angela Lussier

Angela Lussier is an award-winning speaker, author of the Seth Godin recommended book The Anti-Resume Revolution and chief creative career consultant/owner of 365 Degrees Consulting in Springfield, MA. Her advice can be found on Yahoo!, NBC, ABC, The Ladders, and in many career and business books. Speaking engagements and clients include TEDx, Boeing, MassMutual, Comcast, UMass, Westfield State University, and many others.

Below is part two of Angela's interview. She shares success stories of her clients, her take on sabbaticals and career reinvention, and her own Quitter to Winner moment.

How do you guide someone with multiple – and unrelated – passions and interests?

It’s not as hard as it sounds! Often times, what looks like a mish-mash of random skills can actually be turned into an interesting pitch for quite a few jobs! For example, I worked with a client who worked in sales and marketing in the casino and hotel industry for quite a few years. He also worked part-time at a nursing home and animal shelter. Before his work in the hospitality industry, he was a healthcare recruiter. At first glance, this looks like none of it goes together – until we realized that he would be a great candidate for a high level position in an upscale retirement community. He had all the skills for the job, and brought in an interesting perspective from the hospitality field. The key was in how we pitched his skills and telling the story about why he would be more of an asset to the company than the people who were coming directly from a similar position. It worked, and he loves the job.

Can you give an example of someone you’ve worked with that’s now doing exactly what they want? What was their process like?

I was working with a journalist in western Massachusetts who wanted to move to Washington DC. She was quickly learning that strictly being a writer for a newspaper wasn’t going to put her in the running for many of the higher tech jobs. She took on a multi-media role at the paper and started producing videos for their website. She did a ton of networking and built herself a website with her video clips, articles, and resume. With her new experience, she was able to land a job as a producer at a television production company in the heart of Washington, DC. She is now not only producing, but creating many written materials for the company as well with her strong journalism background. While her journalism experience alone wouldn’t have landed her the job, the fact that she coupled it with a cutting edge skill is what made her a competitive candidate with an edge.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career reinvention after working in the same job for 20+ years?

My first piece of advice would be to make sure you are thinking about the big picture, not just the allure of a change. After 20 or more years at the same place, you get used to the benefits, the perks, the rapport with co-workers and management; you may start to gain flexibility as a reward for your commitment. You have accrued many weeks of vacation, sick days, a pension, a retirement plan, a solid and reliable paycheck that may continue to grow, a commute you can do with your eyes closed, etc. In my experience, when I see a professional get to the end of his/her rope and want to quit and do something else, these are all the elements that often go unconsidered. Don’t forget that when you start over, there will be a lot of changes in your life that you may have not had to think about in a long time. The emotional charge that comes from greener pastures may make you overlook the most obvious stress of a complete lifestyle change, so make sure you are considering all of the elements and not just job responsibilities!

What’s your take on the growing popularity of career breaks and sabbaticals?

I think they’re great if they’re thought through. I learned the most about myself when I decided to run my business part-time for 4 months. Even though I was still working, going from working 60 hours/week to 15 was a huge change and gave me a chance to re-evaluate the way I was living. I completely re-prioritized and cut out many initiatives I wasn’t seeing clearly. I think this time is critical for anyone who wants to take stock in their past decisions, present dreams, and future goals. It does wonders to step back and take a break. I also highly recommend going away (even if it’s just an hour away) for at least a few weeks. It does wonders for perspective.

Have you ever left a job without a traditional backup plan? How did you navigate that move?

I did. I should say that I did this because I knew that the consequences would be small and the risk was relatively low. I quit my full-time recruiting job to start my career consulting business without any backup income streams because of the low overhead and lack of financial responsibilities. I lived alone, paid off my car, had no kids, and knew there was a huge market for the work I was offering. It made sense to do at the time, but I rarely recommend that other people do that, unless they’re living in their parent’s basement and have a great idea!

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