Interview with a Career Coach
By Margaret Hansen
I recently interviewed one of our writers, career coach Judi Perkins. Judi shared her experiences in recruiting, how she became a career coach, what she loves about her job and some advice for job seekers.
Tell me about your business.
Judi Perkins: I'm the How-To Career Coach. Finding a new job, especially one you love, is a skill. My clients find a job in eight to 12 weeks. I can take anyone who's been unemployed for a year and if they do what I say, they'll be employed in a very short period of time. Most of my clients have trouble wrapping their head around what I teach them, but once they get it, they feel free, empowered and excited. It becomes much easier for them to get where they want to go.
What have you loved most about your career?
JP: The same thing I loved about being a recruiter - connecting with job seekers and sharing their joy when they land somewhere that they are really excited about. I become attached to my clients. The trust they put in me is sacred and an honor.
I also love the unexpected emails from those who've read my free newsletters and write to thank me and tell me they've found a job. Even if we've never spoken, I'm so thankful that they took the time to let me know that I've helped them.
What made you decide to choose this field?
JP: I became tired of recruiting. I quit it three times. I did contingency, was an office manager for a staffing agency, then went back to contingency, and then thought maybe retained would be better and did that for a few years. After 22 years, I concluded that I was done. I'd been successful in all three types, but I was tired of learning new industries and developing repeat clients every time. Job seekers needed help. For years, I spoke with candidates who didn't know how to find a new job.
How did you get to where you are today?
JP: I owe much of my success to the training I received from some excellent managers, the range of hiring authorities with whom I worked and the range of positions, salaries and industries I helped them hire into. I've been fired twice and my income has occasionally reflected ups and downs of my career, so I can relate to a lot of what my clients are going through.
Also, I'm real and upfront. If a client is putting themselves down when it's not their fault, I make sure they know that. And when they're whining or indulging themselves, I call them on it and counsel them.
I apply things that I learned as a recruiter. Recruiter-turned-coaches have skills that are gleaned from a great diversity of client hiring styles, making us more objective than, say, a former hiring manager.
What advice do you have for today's job seekers, generally speaking?
JP: Finding a job is like dating. The best advice I can give a job seeker is based on something I once heard Leo Buscalia, a well-known relationship coach from the 70s and 80s, say. "If you're an orange, be the best orange you can be. Because if you're busy being a banana, you'll miss the person (or in this case, the company) looking for an orange."
What are your job market predictions?
JP: Much better or much worse, depending on what happens in November!
What service options do you offer clients?
JP: I used to do all one-on-one services, but I can't continue that unless I raise my prices, and I don't want to do that, so I have a few options. Clients can access low-cost group programs and free seminars, a mid-level four-module class that covers ads, cold companies, recruiters and networking, or the "top level", which includes the "Everything Retainer" and "Perfect Job University."
How can job seekers learn more about your services?