Nichole: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Biz and Tell, the show where we feature coaches, consultants and professionals. I’m your host, Nichole Santoro of iMarketingSalon.com. As a podcast specialist, I help small business owners become the go-to thought leaders in their industry by helping them launch, market and maintain their podcast.
Today, I am so excited. My guest is Lori Howard, a Career Transformation Coach and Professional Resume Writer specializing in career identity. The name of her company is Unearth Your Worth.
We all know people who have become unhappy or frustrated with their job, or even their career path. Lori helps those people discover the work they’d love to do, that they’d be great at, feel proud of and still pay for all of their stuff. She also helps people to tell their career story through their job search tools, like resume, interviewing, LinkedIn and network conversations, and has helped them maximize opportunities to land a job that they really want.
Prior to launching her business, Lori worked in a corporate environment for over 15 years, leading and managing software development and quality assurance teams through coaching and mentoring. She’s worked in financial services, insurance, publishing, medical devices, IT and theater.
Lori holds multiple certifications and credentials, including Professional Certified Coach, Certified Executive Coach, Certified Story Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, Group Certified Coach and a Bachelor’s of Electrical Engineering.
Today, Lori lives along Lake Michigan in Chicago, while she works with clients from across the US and around the world. To learn more about Lori, please visit her website at http: //unearthyourworth.com/. Hey, Lori. How are you today?
Lori: I’m doing really well. I’m excited to be here, Nichole. Thank you for having me.
Nichole: It’s my pleasure. I was getting a little exhausted reading all of your credentials.
Lori: Yes, I know.
Nichole: You have a busy full-circle life. Your background provides the perfect avenue to help coach clients, because you have this huge breadth of experience. You can really look at a situation from multiple different angles.
Lori: Yes, I would say so.
Nichole: Could you share a bit about your path to becoming a coach? What led you here?
Lori: Throughout my corporate career, which I left in 2006, I had always spent a portion of my time coaching and helping people with their careers. These were people who worked directly for me as well as people who worked for others. I would have people seek me out for secret offsite meetings to talk about their careers. I was always engaged in helping people find the job they really wanted.
Early in my career, someone had helped me with my resume and interviewing. Once I absorbed those lessons, I continued to study and research career development and job search topics. I was always helping other people by sharing what I learned. As you mentioned, I started out with a degree in electrical engineering. I worked in software development, quality assurance and project management until my last corporate job as a vice president of an investment research firm in downtown Chicago.
My own career story includes a time when I started to feel really frustrated, unhappy, burnt out on my job and career. I had no idea what I wanted to do instead. At the peak of my frustration and confusion, the company I was working for was acquired by another company. I asked to be laid off, which was completely insane to me, because I had never not worked. I had always had a job and a couple of job offers in the queue. But I didn’t want to do any of those things anymore.
So I left my corporate career in 2006 and I took the time to work to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. What’s the work that I would love, that I would do well at, that would give me some sense of fulfillment and meaning, and still be able to support myself? I took the time to really dig deep and figure out what I wanted to do next. It’s the result of the work that led me to create a process that I use with my own clients today, so that they don’t have to go through what I went through. They don’t have to go through it all alone.
In 2007, I started my own business, which became Unearth Your Worth. I’ve since earned the list of certifications that you mentioned, all to help my clients better.
Nichole: Were you aware of coaching during your own process? How did that work?
Lori: I was aware of coaching. Coaching seemed like a new concept to me when I first started my process. I was working with a life coach at the time, someone who had just started out in her own practice. I had known her in her prior work. We had a prior relationship doing other professional things.
Then she moved into coaching. She said, “Do you want to try it out?” I said, “Yes, let’s do that.” My first exposure to coaching was working with a friend of mine who was starting her own coaching business. We established a new relationship as coach and client.
Nichole: That’s interesting. I find that people discover coaching oftentimes not necessarily knowing that it had existed. But then a situation comes up. The more research we do and as we talk to more people, we discover that this is a fantastic way to reach your goals, no matter what challenge or problem that you’re having. I was curious about your background there.
Lori: Once I realized what coaching was, I realized that I had been doing it and interested in it for years. I just didn’t have a name for it.
Nichole: Yes. You said that people were coming to you in your career saying, “Hey, can I talk with you?” It sounds like you had that prep even before you gave it a name. In all the years of experience that you had in corporate, and since, what is the best advice that you’ve ever received?
Lori: That’s a tough one. I go to people for advice all the time. I think it’s a good idea to seek other people’s perspectives on any challenge that I encounter. I like to get other people’s points of view. Then I sit down, analyze, research and evaluate. Then I make a decision. I think it might be the engineer in me.
I don’t know where I first heard this particular quote. “The question isn’t can you do this, but how can you do this?” The point of that lesson is that there is always a way to do something. It’s just a matter of being creative and resourceful to create whatever it is you want or find the solution you need.
Nichole: That’s fantastic. There’s no way that it can’t be done. It sounds like that’s your approach with clients. You try to be creative.
Lori: It is. Most of my clients come to me having had a career. We’re moving into, “What else can I do? How can I find a new thing? I’m not 20 with someone else supporting me. How do I make a transition into something I love without it taking me another 10 or 20 years?” That’s where this advice comes into play. It’s a question of how we make that work for you. How do we find a new path for you that’s going to offer you all the things you want, that will fit into your life now?
Nichole: Can you talk a bit about how your coaching process works?
Lori: Clients come to me for one of two things. One is that they don’t know what they want to do next. They just know that they want to move away from what they’ve been doing. Number two is, they know what they want to do next, but they can’t figure out how to get the opportunities that they want in the current job market. A large portion of my clients today are over 40. They’re also really worried about their age and how that factors into things.
With the first group, I help them figure out their next dream job as well as how to get there from here without starting from scratch. I use a process that goes much deeper than traditional assessments to help clients discover the work they’d love to do next, that they’d be great at, feel really proud of, that will still support them.
We do that by unearthing their unique values, strengths, skills and passions, and then determining the environment and surroundings in which they will really thrive. Once we figure that out, we then craft a path to get to that job without investing what feels like another lifetime to do that.
Many times, the first group joins the second group. I help them tell their career story with confidence. I help them learn how to navigate the current job market to attract the opportunities they really want.
Nichole: That sounds wonderful. It almost sounds like you’re providing shortcuts. People that I know in the job market have that fear of, “Oh my gosh. I can’t start all over again. I’ve invested all this time.” No one wants to go back to being fresh out of college and starting all over again. How do you help short circuit that process? Are there any shortcuts?
Lori: I don’t know that I would call them shortcuts. There are two parts to this. One is figuring out the thing you want to do next. You need to figure out your strengths, and the strengths you really enjoy using. How does that map to the current job market in terms of what opportunities are available? That’s one piece.
Then there is another piece. Now this is the part where people tend to want a shortcut. They say, “How do I do that without starting over?” That’s a matter of learning how to tell your career story. Typically, we tell our career story as it unfolds. If you followed a career path like mine, which was in IT, software development and project management, you would look at my original resume and LinkedIn profile, and how I talked about each of my jobs in terms of project management and quality assurance.
It would just reveal those skills, because I would talk about those responsibilities and accomplishments. It was a clear path. You would talk about it as it unfolded in that direction. But when it’s time to switch directions, you need to go back and re-tell your story. You need to look for the components that line up with your new path.
For me, switching from that track to coaching, I can go back through my whole work history and highlight and talk about all of the things that I did that were coaching related. These would be times when I coached and mentored staff, worked with people and taught them about career things. That might not have been part of my primary job function, but it would have been embedded in my story. I just didn’t highlight that before. If you’re going for a job in project management, no one cared about that.
I have another example. I have a client who came from sales. All he knew was that he didn’t want to do sales anymore. He had done sales for a very long time. We went through this process with him. He discovered that, what he really wanted to do was train and teach people.
When we retold his career story, we went back through and found moment from every job he’d had. We realized he’s been teaching and training people throughout his whole career, on the job and in his volunteer work. We were able to retell the story with this new thread and highlight all of his training experience.
He was able to easily transition to this new area without having to start from scratch because he’d actually had a lot of experience. He’d been doing it all along. It was the thing he really wanted to do.
Nichole: That is awesome. I think what you, and coaches, bring to the table is that other perspective. As a job seeker, immediately, there is that element of stress. It’s sometimes hard to see clearly. You want to default back to what you know and the story you’ve been telling. You don’t even think about making those connections. You’re just thinking, “It’s time to get another degree. It’s time to do another internship.”
To connect those dots like that and have you in their corner is so helpful. I think that’s the shortcut. The shortcut is not doing it by yourself. It’s doing it with someone who understands how the job market works, how to connect the dots and to tell your story in a way that will be appealing to someone in the hiring position.
Lori: Yes. One of the observations that I have is that the job market has changed over the last several years. The job market has recovered from the whole economic bounce within the last five to ten years. The job market has recovered in terms of there being opportunities again.'Your job search is about sharing your career story with confidence.' #CareerCoach @Lori_Howard Click To Tweet
But the job search process has completely changed. Everything you’re doing in your job search process is telling your story, whether it’s networking conversations, interviewing, your profile on LinkedIn, your resume and your cover letter. All of that is part of the story you’re telling that potential employers are reading, reviewing and listening to in order to hear if you’re going to be a fit for the position that they have, and that you want. That’s a little bit different.
In the past, you could tell where you’d been. People would take the time, review it and say, “Here is what I see in your capabilities.” They would identify the possibilities for you. They would say, “Look at what you’ve done. You might want to try this.” They would offer you that opportunity. That just doesn’t happen that often today. It’s much less frequent.
If you want to maximize your options and opportunities, you really need to start looking at, “What story am I telling? How am I telling that story?” If you’re feeling stuck, getting help is a really good idea.
Nichole: That’s a very interesting insight. It used to be that a position was posted on Monster. Then you apply for it. You go through that process. Like you said, if people liked you or generally had a good feeling about you, they would help create that position around you. I wonder if, to some extent, that’s still the process. What I’m hearing is that networking is so much more essential. Do you find that to be the case now?
Lori: The clients I have that get the fastest results are actively networking, without a doubt. They are actively networking online and in person. It’s not always necessarily face to face, but voice to voice. They are forming relationships with people. Part of that is knowing what to ask for and knowing how to give back.
If you want to get faster results, you need to be networking. You can’t skip the other steps. You have to take all of them. But now you can’t skip any of them. You used to be able to be really good at one thing. For example, “My resume is awesome. That will get me in,” or “I’m excellent at interviewing. I just have to get there.” Now you need to have all of the pieces. That’s a little more burdensome. When you’re actively looking for work, it’s hard to be good at all of those.
Nichole: I hear a lot about in-person networking. Can you talk a little bit about online networking? That intrigued me.
Lori: My recommended mode of online networking is LinkedIn when it comes to the job search. LinkedIn has positioned itself as the professional social networking tool. They’ve positioned themselves as the tool for the job search. There are so many things you can do with LinkedIn that go far beyond—I don’t want to say what you can do in person—but it will help you fast track your networking.
I have one client who was laid off. He was working with me to hone his resume to what he wanted to do next. He was re-targeting a new position. He was making a career transition. Because he was laid, he became the stay-at-home dad. They couldn’t afford daycare so he took care of his kids while he was looking for work.
Networking became trickier because he couldn’t actually get to live events. But what he could do was take advantage of the opportunities on LinkedIn, in the LinkedIn groups. He was actively reaching out to his contact on LinkedIn and having phone conversations with them.
He could set up meetings on his own time that worked with his schedule. He had much more success with that as opposed to saying, “I can’t do that today because I need to take care of my daughter.” He didn’t have to pick and choose. He could do a lot of that work from the comforts of home.
Nichole: That’s fantastic and so inspiring. This speaks to what you said earlier about coming up with creative solutions. When one door is shut and it’s just not going to work, instead of being frustrated about it, what are the other angles that you can take. I think that’s a great service that you offer for your clients. That sounds like one coaching super power that you have. What are some other coaching super powers of Lori Howard?
Lori: It’s funny that you asked that question. When I talk to clients, I like to talk to them about how their strengths are their super powers. If you know what your strengths are and you master how to use them, then you will feel like a superhero. When you asked me the question, I thought, “Now I feel like one of my clients. I don’t know.”
Many of my clients will tell me how much they value my intuition in this process. My focus is helping clients unearth their worth to see and value who they are, what they offer and embrace that with confidence. The most rewarding experience for me is when I see one of my clients claim their unique value, claim their strengths, really step into that and own that.
Nichole: That’s wonderful. Thank you. You do have super powers. It’s always to be in that hot seat when the focus is on you.
Lori: It’s good. It helps me understand my clients’ point of view a little better. We’re all human. We all think, “Wait, no. Not me.”
Nichole: I want to talk about marketing. It’s interesting to me that so much of what you help your clients with is marketing themselves as a brand. I get the sense that you have the experience of marketing yourself as a career coach. Can you talk to me a little bit about your marketing activities, what’s worked for you and how you’ve applied that in guiding your clients to market themselves?
Lori: As a small business, marketing always has its own challenges. As a small business owner, it changes all the time. I feel like I’m always trying to stay on top of what’s working and what’s not. I like to use email as a marketing tool.
I really like the content marketing approach, where I’m giving you lots of value, help and support so that you can see what I offer. You get help. Then maybe you’ll want to come work with me. We can talk about whether that’s appropriate for you.
I like to use email as a means to connect with and keep in touch with people who want what I offer. It allows me to share strategies, tips, information and stories that help them create a career they really love. I really do encourage people on my email list to email me back and tell me their story. I want them to ask me questions.
I also use LinkedIn, because that’s the professional social networking tool for people looking to change jobs or careers. I feel that, learning as much as I can about LinkedIn, embracing it for my own use and learning how to actively network and connect with people on LinkedIn for my own business also empowers me to help my clients leverage it for their career transformation.
Nichole: I know small business owners were encouraged to have an email list because it is such a personal connection. Is that also true for job seekers?
Lori: I don’t think I’d do it as a job seeker. People still know that it’s somewhat of a form letter. I’m writing to a large group of people. I might use your name in it, and it feels like a personal connection. There is an effort on my part to make it personal. But I don’t necessarily know everyone on my list.
As a job seeker, if you’re going to reach out to people, it should be individual, one-on-one emails. I also do that in my business. I don’t just use the email list as a tool. I have people that I contact individually. I’ve received a few of those from job seekers trying to stay active with their connections, and they do a mass email to all of their LinkedIn connections. Somehow I got on their list. I found it really annoying. I thought, “I didn’t ask to be on your list. Why are you telling me all about you? I barely know you. Call me up. Let’s have coffee. Let’s talk one on one to get to know each other and see if I can really help you.”
It feels like a cold connection when someone uses it in that way. I don’t know that I would recommend that. It’s certainly not for everyone. There might be exceptions to that. I’m not sure I’d spend time or money learning how to leverage that. The point of networking, whether you’re on LinkedIn, in person or going to networking meetings is to get one-on-one relationships.
It’s never about the group. It’s about the one on one. It’s in the one-on-one relationship where someone will say, “Wait. Let me hand your resume to someone I know.” You’re not going to get that in a group setting. I think it’s important to keep in mind your goal.
It’s not just one-on-one relationships to help you with your job search. It’s professional networking connections who can help you throughout your career. You really want to make sure you’re connecting with people who aren’t just one-time help. You want to have a long-term relationship with that person. You’re going to help each other out as you both grow and develop. That’s the goal. Those are the valuable relationships.
Nichole: I love that. Incidentally, that’s how we connected. I think we had both gone to an ICF networking meeting and then followed up. We decided to do coffee on the phone. Then we spent a nice chunk of time getting to know each other. We’ve stayed connected. I think that beautifully exhibits your advice. That one-on-one connection is always going to be primary. Lori, do you have any freebies that you’d like to share with our audience today?
Lori: I do have a free guide that you can get on my website. It’s called What it Really Takes to Land a Job That You Love. I talk about the art and science of career identity, resumes and what it really takes to land a job you love today. You can go to my website, UnearthYourWorth.com, and find it at the top of the home page.
Nichole: If you want to learn more about Lori and the free guide, her website is UnearthYourWorth.com. Thank you so much for being my guest today, Lori. I cannot believe all of the information we were able to dive into. It was value packed.
Lori: Clearly, this is my great passion. I found the thing I love to do. Thank you for having me. It’s been really fun. I really enjoyed talking with you, and think about some of the things you asked. That was exciting. I appreciate that.
Nichole: I’m happy. As you know, if you’re a listener, show notes are posted at iMarketingSalon.com if you want to see anything you missed during our episode. This is Nichole Santoro. Thank you so much for joining us. Make it a great day.