Her name was Caroline.
She arrived for her consult in a stylish pantsuit, kitten heels and the most incredible handbag I'd seen in, like, forever. Her handshake was just right, firm but not ridiculous -- certainly not one of those dead fish handshakes that women seem to have way more often than they ought to.
She looked the part, she acted the part. But I knew right away that things were very not OK for Caroline. I knew that before she pulled the fistful of Kleenex out of that handbag, and opened up with her story.
"I'm broken at this point," she blurted out just after the pleasantries. "Broken. I'm a smart, capable woman who had everything going on, and now I'm broken."
I asked her what she meant.
Caroline explained, through a flood of tears, that she'd been laid off seven months ago. It was a six-figure consulting job, and she loved it. She loved diving into new, huge messes every day. A natural fixer, this was the perfect job for Caroline. She was paid to fix. And she did a whole bunch of fixing for major corporate clients, all over the world.
Then her company went through a huge reorganization, and 25% of the employees were let go, Caroline included. While it was more than a bit unsettling when it all went down, Caroline thought she'd be able to quickly land a new job as a corporate fixer, at another consulting firm.
In fact, she was a final contender for not one, but two positions a couple of months back. Unfortunately, she didn't land either one. Not even the one for which she thought she'd be a shoo-in.
The experiences shattered Caroline's confidence, and convinced her that she wasn't "enough" as a professional.
Does this sound like you?
Caroline's story is the story of so many people with whom we meet. Well-polished, entirely capable professionals who begin to unravel as their job searches progress more slowly than anticipated.
When this is you, it's very (VERY) easy to begin to feel there must be something wrong with YOU.
It's very easy to feel broken, not enough or virtually hopeless when you're overlooked, ignored or flat out turned down for something you really wanted, and felt was a terrific match.
If you're in this boat (with or without that amazing handbag), listen closely, please.
You're not broken.
You are not broken. You are not flawed. You have something really amazing to offer, and someone out there deserves your talents..
If you’re struggling with job search, it doesn’t mean you suck as a human. Oh, hell no. Job search is RIDICULOUSLY hard a lot of the time.
If you're struggling with job search it almost always means that you need to make some meaningful changes to how you brand yourself or how you navigate the hunt. You need tools.
Maybe you need a craftier plan.
Maybe you need to suck it up and reach out to people at the companies you'd love to work at.
Maybe you need to figure out how to leverage all that LinkedIn has to offer.
Maybe you need to shore up yours skills to make yourself more competitive.
Maybe you need to stop ambushing people as you connect with them.
Maybe your resume presents the wrong story.
Think about the things you're doing, and consider how you might reshape your plan. And then start experimenting with new things, because your old things might be exactly what's getting square in the way of your success.
Caroline and I sorted through it. We untangled what she was doing and then built a game plan that began to work. And once she had a bit of momentum, guess what? Caroline began to remember how absolutely great she was at fixing big problems.
And she was more than a bit proud that, ultimately, she figured out how to fix her own.
You’re all absolutely great at something and the world deserves to have you doing that very thing.
YOU deserve to be doing that thing.
No matter where you are with your career or job search or life… please do remind yourself of this:
You're not broken.
It's the strategy that probably needs fixing.