After 21 years of teaching science to secondary school students overseas in destinations such as Beijing, Luxembourg and the Dominican Republic, Jill and her husband returned to the United States to be there for their son, who was gearing up to start university.
“We didn’t want to be halfway around the world while he was figuring all that stuff out. So we both started teaching here in the states, which was a totally different ball game than my previous schools,” she explained. “It’s not that the kids were different, but I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t finding it satisfying anymore. It wasn’t that I was bored, because in a classroom you can never be bored, but I just didn’t have room to grow. I always want to get better and learn new things and that wasn’t happening at all. So I was really getting disillusioned.”
That is when Jill hired on coach Lisa Barrington to revamp her resume and look at new and different career options. As with most career coaching, the process began with an assessment or in this case, two assessments—the Strong Interest Inventory® assessment and the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
“Lisa started with identifying my strengths, helped me analyze the results and then helped me transition into decision-making about my future path. Using strength assessments gave me quantifiable values for my skills and passions. These helped me put many activities that I enjoy (and those I do not) into categories, and give me ways to look at job areas in a more defined way,” she said.
“I always want to get better and learn new things and that wasn’t happening at all. So I was really getting disillusioned.” – Jill
According to Lisa, this process also helped open Jill’s eyes to all the skills she possessed. Because Jill had spent a majority of her professional life as a teacher, Lisa had to dig deep to help Jill realize all the things she had done as a teacher and how transferable those skills were.
“When she came into the process, all she had ever done was teaching so she had a narrow perspective, which was wide in some ways because she was international, but narrow in that she hadn’t worked in corporate America,” Lisa said.
“Yes, she was a teacher, but she was a lot more than that – she was a creator. She created this whole initiative around a science fair, but not your old fashioned science fair. A new-age approach, a really different approach to kids learning that was amazing,” Lisa said. “There were several things – her creativity, her ability to pull together a team, her ability to influence the leaders to let her do it, her ability to lead the team, get the kids involved and excited—there were all these things that came to me while she told me this story.”
Jill explained that, as a teacher, you are mostly working by yourself and while you know how students respond to you and you know how you respond to them, but you don’t always know what kinds of qualities you’re bringing to your job.
“So she really corroborated with me, the things that I was really good at and the things that I probably shouldn’t worry about so much. Which I thought was really nice, to have the feedback. She is a great listener. She is able to then take what you have been saying and then ask these really great questions about it to move you forward. She is very skilled at what she does. It helps me appreciate her skill as well as the things she was helping me see what I was able to do.”
“Yes, she was a teacher, but she was a lot more than that – she was a creator” – Lisa Phalen
After figuring out all of her strengths and gaining a better idea of her values, the pair worked together to update her resume, which she described as “old and clunky” and built a LinkedIn profile.
“I have been building my LinkedIn profile, with Lisa’s guidance. Her lessons and suggestions have helped me fill out my profile to the “Expert” level, which I would have not been able to do in such a short time,” Jill said. “She proofread my resume and gave me a bunch of suggestions on how to make it less focused on education, but more applicable to the business world mostly by changing the vocabulary.”
They also worked on a cover letter idea, which Jill admitted was something she hadn’t had to do in a really long time.
“She has also given me all kinds of links to resources, which is lovely because I can take the ones that I like and use them and ones that I don’t I can skip. She has just been a fantastic source of information. Just today, she sent me a link to all these resources that she collected from this job fair that was at, where she was a speaker. And she went on my LinkedIn page and made a comment to me, things like that. So we are interacting all the time, even though we aren’t doing our one-hour session together.”
In their last session together this week, they worked on interview techniques.
“I would say that the idea of telling a story to provide context and that highlights your skills, especially in the areas of problem solving and working in teams, makes total sense. I have been in interviews that would not allow too much prose (2 minutes or less to answer), so being concise and focusing on how your skills fit with the job description is very important, and Lisa emphasized this.”
“She is a great listener. She is able to then take what you have been saying and then ask these really great questions about it to move you forward.” – Jill
As Jill continues on her job search, she said that thanks to Lisa’s coaching, she has a clear mindset that she needs to do research and find the employer that fits with me, so I will do my best in this area.
“You need to find a place that you fit and not every place will be a good fit. So, be very precise about where you are going and why you are going there. Make sure they have the characteristics that fit with what you think and believe. So that is what I’m doing, not just looking at the job titles and descriptions, but also looking at the organization.”
And while the coaching sessions between Lisa and Jill have now come to an end, Lisa will always be there to offer support if needed.
“Jill is beginning her journey to finding the job she wants, she’s not in a rush. I told her that there are ins and outs of LinkedIn, cover letters, ins and outs of thank you notes and I said, just drop me an email if you have any questions,” Lisa said.
Lisa goes on to explain that when it comes to a client’s success, there are two major factors that come into play.
“You can have the worst coach in the world, or the best coach in the world or someone in the between, but to me, what’s almost more important than the coach is the attitude and the intent that the client brings to the table. Jill brought this amazing intent and attitude, which made it very productive to work with her. I think she is going to do very well.”
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Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen through Twitter.