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How Shannon Landed Her New Job, A True Story of How Valuable Personal Life Coaching Really Is
How Shannon Landed Her New Job
A True Story of How Valuable Personal Life Coaching Really Is
This is a true account about how Shannon..(her real name) was hired within a few months into her search for employment. She gave me permission to use her real first name and asked me not to use her children’s names or her location. I respect her right to privacy and am grateful to her for allowing me to share her story here.
I met Shannon online through facebook. She recognized me through one of my post and began a chat session with me. Shannon began to tell me her story.
She had been laid off as a result of a downsizing her company was going through. Although she received good performance evaluations and was an asset to her company her supervisor let her go. Shannon is a single mother of two boys attending public school and “growing like weeds!” She had a little money saved up as she always tried to balance her paycheck and she is a ‘bargain hunter for sure’.
She knew that her unemployment benefits would barely cover her living expenses with a mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, health insurance, and did I mention food for three boys?
Shannon has nearly exhausted her savings account and was resisting applying for public assistance when she caught me on the facebook chat. Shannon told me “I cannot see myself living like this for much longer”.
After hearing her story I thought I would offer her some assistance using my coaching experience with her search for employment. I am a Personal Life Coach and one of my offerings includes career coaching.
It had already been 30 minutes in the facebook chat and since we both had other things to do that day we set an appointment time for our next meeting. In the mean time I sent her my coaching agreement which she would read over, complete, and sign (digital signature of course) and return to me. Then we would get started.
As a part of my coaching agreement I asked a few questions to get started. I asked Shannon what type of nursing positions are you qualified for? What type of facilities were you willing to work in? What duties are you absolutely not willing to perform in your nursing position? Are you willing to relocate if the employer will pay for relocation expenses? What is your ideal nursing position? If you were offered your ideal nursing position that would start in a month and required you to relocate would you accept the offer? Would you like to have our next session on Skype or by telephone?
I received the signed coaching agreement via email and we agreed to have our sessions using Skype. This is how our first session began: I got her on Skype and she answered enthusiastically. Then I got right down to our second coaching session.
“What do you want to change in your life?” I asked her. She said she didn’t understand my question and that she wanted to find a job right now. “How does that look? Will you paint me a picture of how you see your life once you secure the job you want?” I asked her to be specific and not to leave anything out. “Close your eyes and begin to paint me a picture”.
Shannon said, “The alarm clock goes off at 6:30 AM and I lay there for a little while longer. I sit up and stretch before going into the bathroom to get ready for work. I call into the boy’s room to wake them for breakfast. I go down stairs and turn on the radio. I turn to the Steve Harvey Show. He makes me laugh in the morning. Then I begin to prepare breakfast for the boys. Oatmeal and orange juice. I call for them to come down for breakfast. I hear them scrambling and fussing about who will use the bathroom first. They begin to come down and greet me with a “good morning, Mom” and kiss me on the lips or cheek. My oldest prepares toast and the youngest asks for graham crackers”.
“We talk about the day’s agenda while we eat breakfast. My oldest has piano practice after school, the middle one has lots of homework and needs to go to the library. The youngest wants to watch cartoons as soon as he gets home before he starts his homework”.
“I kiss them all before I leave for work. Letting them know that I love them and will be home on time. Telling the oldest to make sure he locks up as soon as he shuts the door. Make sure the alarm system is on”.
“I get into my little Jetta and it starts up immediately. I drive off to work. I work in the Pediatrics ward of a local hospital. I am one of the nurses who provide direct care. I really like my job. It’s very fulfilling work.”
“That sound like a very fulfilling and satisfying work day. Beginning with your children and the love you have for each other .Just beautiful”, I tell her.
“How does your real-world career path compare with what you expect it to be?” That is really what my career path is like. Every morning I get up and prepare breakfast for my boys. Even on my days off. I love cooking for them. And they love eating, I’ll tell you that much!”
“I expect to work the day shift for most of the time. I know I may need to work mid and late shift as well, and that’s ok because my boys can be in the house without me. The oldest one secures the fort while I am at work.”
“So am I correct in thinking that you are flexible?” Shannon says she is flexible.
“Shannon, what’s most important to you in a job?” I asked her.
“The most important thing to me is financial security and health benefits”, she replied. “I see, will you tell me why financial security and health benefits are so important to you?”
“I don’t like being unemployed or without sufficient money to take care of my family. My health benefits cover anything that could come up with the boys and me as well. Since the boys play sports with their friends and in school an accident could happen at any time. If I don’t have health benefits I would not be able to pay for their health care needs. They are growing so fast. The annual check- ups, my own health care needs..It’s just important to have health benefits.
Then I asked Shannon,” What do you value most?” Shannon told me that she loved her children and that they were the most important thing in the world to her. She couldn’t imagine not being able to care for them and providing for them. She said she would work even after she needed to retire if that is what it took for her to make sure her boys had what they needed. She also said she was open to new ideas and methods of looking for work. She wanted to continue working in her field because nursing is an ever growing field and there is always a need for nurses. Shannon said nursing is one of those flexible fields where you can practice nursing anywhere, like teaching or being an attorney.
I asked her what she had done so far to look for work. Shannon explained she posted her resume online with the usual employment search engines (I won’t mention them here) and that she responded to what little classified ads were placed in her hometown newspaper (again, I will not disclose that information here). Shannon said she attended every job fair, career fair and networking event she could and still nothing happened.
She says the “employers post job openings that I qualify for but when I send my resume I don’t hear anything back. I call to follow-up, but they tell me they are still interviewing and the position is still open or the position has been filled”.
I asked her how she would consider relocating. She paused for a long while… about 10 minutes and then she says she would not like to relocate too far because her life was where she lives now. Her boys “are comfortable here and I don’t want to take them away from familiar surroundings. I think that may be too much of a change. I’d have to find a new place to live and enroll the boys in a new school. I’d have to make sure the school system there is good. Making new friends can be hard too. Plus I would have to pay for it all... that’s a lot of money I don’t have.
Shannon explained her entire family is “here” and she doesn’t want to just pick up and leave them. She and the boys would miss them all.. grandparents, cousins, friends, church, community activities. She says she could not see herself relocating for a job.
Shannon had taken her first step. She stated her passion. She aligned her vision with her values.
Now, on to the next step. I asked Shannon about her resume. I asked if she had optimized it before posting online or sending it to prospective employers. She didn’t know what I was talking about. So I explained it this way.
I asked if her resume focused on her goals. Had she researched job descriptions and identified key words. I asked if her opening paragraphs identified her value to a potential employer. She wasn’t sure so I had her send it to me via email attachment. When I got it we reviewed it together.
This is what we discovered as I coached Shannon. I told her that her resume was formatted in a professional manner and that it looked good.
Then we discussed the content. Shannon’s objective was: Nurse.
I asked, “How does this objective matched what her prospective employer asked for in the advertisement?” She explained that she didn’t feel like changing her resume for every nursing position she applied for so she just gave a general objective.
Moving on I noticed her experience was scattered and that she had experience on the emergency ward, children’s ward, administrative duties behind the nursing station in a hospital, private duty. Shannon had experience in various doctor’s offices and also did some private nursing in the homes of some of her patients.
She had her skills listed on the bottom of her resume and her education on the top. Shannon used bullet points under her headings and used industry terminology in sentence fragments.
I asked her how she felt about the effectiveness of her resume. Shannon said that she must be doing something wrong and that she didn’t think it was a good resume. When I asked her why she felt this way she told me “after looking at it again it seems kind of cold and to the point. It shows my skills but it doesn’t show me..who I am.”
Shannon hit the nail right on the head with that one! I asked her what would she change to make her resume more personable. She didn’t know how to answer that, so I asked her what does she want the prospective employer to see as they read her resume.
Shannon said she wanted the prospective to see her, who she is and what she is capable of. She wanted the employer to understand that she is the one to hire. Shannon set her goal. I asked her when she would like to begin getting invited for employment interviews. She told me she’d like to start interviewing immediately, of course. LOL. Of course immediately could be right now, I told her. “Since that has yet to happen how open are you to some more coaching to get things moving along quicker?” Shannon accepted my offer to coach her further and we worked together in a creative and thoughtful manner to maximize her potential of getting hired as a nurse.
This is how our third coaching session went: We connected on Skype at our agreed upon time. I immediately let her know that what we discussed here is private and confidential..(after our last session I asked permission to share our coaching sessions and she agreed. That’s why I am able to talk about it here). I then asked if there would be any interruptions on her end and she assured me there would not be. I gave her the same assurance on my end.
We discussed the questions I asked in the coaching agreement. Shannon was qualified for several nursing positions ranging from pediatrics to emergency nurse. Her ideal position was in pediatrics in a children’s hospital but she was also very interested in working as a private duty nurse for the elderly in the patient’s home. Shannon was still hesitant to relocate but thought she would reconsider if all moving expenses would be paid for without affecting her salary in any way. She didn’t want to move too far away though. Shannon says she would not like to work in the operating room, or with patients on the burn ward, or cancer patients.
I asked for permission to clarify her goal and said, “tell me if I got this right and please correct me if I am wrong. Your goal is to land a nursing position working with children in a hospital setting or with the elderly in their home, is that right?” Shannon agreed. I went on by saying, “you have reconsidered relocating as long as it’s not too far from home and if the employer would cover all of your moving expenses, is that correct?” Shannon agreed that I got it right.
I asked her what made her reconsider relocating. She told me her main objective is to find employment so that she could continue providing a home for her family. She said if that means moving to another city then she would think about it depending on how far it would be. So I asked her how far away in terms of distance would she be willing to move. Shannon expressed she would relocate only if the employer paid for all expenses including a few month’s rent and she would have to register her boys into new schools. She’d prefer a house over an apartment. She would move 50 to 150 miles away. She told me she’d thought about it and didn’t really want to move but if that is where the work is then she would have no other choice if she wanted to go back to work immediately.
I complimented her ability to be flexible. Flexibility is an empowering trait. It is a sign of a good leader. Shannon was well on her way to finding her next nursing position. She has stated her goals and objectives clearly and was ready to commit to an employment opportunity.
Next step, getting the resume ready. Shannon needed a resume that focused on her goals. I asked her where she researched nursing job descriptions. She had been on several nursing job boards, asked at nursing agencies, classified ads on and offline. So that’s when I asked her about re-doing her resume. I asked, “have you considered reconstructing your resume?” She asked me,” why she should do that when it clearly stated her skills and employment history?”
I said to her, “You told me during our previous session that your resume ‘does not tell the employer who you are’, did I get that right?” She agreed and said “You are right, it needs something, it seems as if something is missing”. So that’s when we dissected each and every section of her resume and made the changes together. Shannon used a different approach.
First of all Shannon says her resume doesn’t reflect who she is. It talks about her skills, work experience, and education..that is what a resume is supposed to do. But she wanted the employer to get the picture of her in their mind when reading it.
While it is true there are certain rules when writing a resume. You should never refer to yourself in the first person. The format needs to fit on one page..which is difficult if you have lots of experience you want perspective employers to know about. You need to keep in mind that the prospective employer has mountains of resumes on their desk and only spends about 15 to 20 seconds looking at yours for consideration. If they don’t see the key words they are looking for at first glance then your resume may be filed in the trash can.
With that said Shannon and I decided to revamp her resume. I asked her if she ever used the internet to research employment. She said that’s how she started to post her resume. “Where do you think would be a good starting place to rewrite your resume?” She responded, “ I think I should start with job descriptions. Maybe I should do that part over.” “Would you like to begin with the job descriptions you have listed on your resume or with a job you are looking for?” Shannon said she had never thought of that. She said that. I should probably start there.
I asked her what type of facility would she really want to work at. She told me and then said she would begin by looking at their job openings. She then went to their website, looked at the employment opportunities there and found a few positions she would be interested in. (Shannon shared where she was doing her research so that we would be at the same place at the same time). She read the job description and qualification. I asked her to identify exactly what that employer was looking for. As she read I asked her what the ‘key words’ were there. At that time it seemed Shannon’s ah- ha moment happened.
“Oh, I know exactly what you mean!” she exclaimed.” I did this job but I don’t word it the same way. I need to use their words! I can do that I know exactly what I need to do now!!” Honestly, I don’t know who was more excited, Shannon or me! I could feel her energy through the internet. We were both smiling big time. LOL.
After a little while I asked her if her objective on her resume was still relevant. She told me that she would need to change that. Then our third session was about to end. I told her I’d see her again tomorrow for our fourth session and to look for my questions. She nearly rushed me off so that she could get started. Shannon had set her new goals to rewrite her resume and change her objective.
Shannon suggested she rewrite her resume into a new format that would encompass all of her skills and make a summary of her qualifications. I told her that was a brilliant idea. She had made a commitment to rewrite her resume and we ended out session with a clear goal. I asked her permission to send a new set of questions for our third session and she set the time. We agreed that Skype is our way to have our coaching sessions from here on out.
I sent the following questions to Shannon. How do you feel about revamping your resume? Why do you feel this way? How will rewriting your resume affect your search for employment? What do you need from me to assist you move forward? I also sent her a link to sample resume formats so that she could visualize her options and make a decision on her new resume format.
To my surprise she responded the very same day even though our third appointment wasn’t until tomorrow!
Ok, now Shannon has responded to the questions and we are moving forward in our fourth coaching session. The resume I had been using was limiting. It did describe my skills but it didn’t have enough key words. I feel good to have it rewritten. I like the way you guided me in this way. I think I may have a better chance of being noticed by potential employers now that I have rewritten my resume. I need you to help me decide what I will do with my new resume. How will I use it?
Shannon wrote a resume that focused on her goals. She chose from one of the formats I had given her and she rewrote her objective to be a complete sentence. She researched job descriptions and identified key words. Then she made sure that the opening paragraphs clearly identified her value to a potential employer. That’s when I asked her if she had a Linkedin account. She told me she didn’t really know how to use Linkedin and she didn’t understand what it was all about.
We headed over to Linkedin where I gave her a virtual tour of the website. I shared my profile with her and asked if she thought it would be a place she’d like to build connections. She told me it looks like this is where she should have been in the first place. Shannon committed to setting up her profile and putting her new resume on it. She seemed so excited..she told me she’d reconnect with me in an hour to let me review her page….thus our session was split into 2 sessions.
A little more than an hour later Shannon connected with me again on Skype. Having created the basic marketing material, Shannon built a strong LinkedIn profile complete with photo. She started to build her network. We discussed her need for a cover letter. I asked if she thought she needed one even though she is applying for employment online. Shannon seemed uncertain. I asked, “What is the purpose of a cover letter?” Shannon said “ it was a way to introduce yourself , a preview to your resume, a way for you to talk about yourself a little before they read your resume. …yes, I need one.” I asked how would it be beneficial if she posted her cover letter on her portfolio. She let me know that she understood how Linkedin worked when she told me that the profile page is the first thing people see when they look you up. She told me she would put her cover letter there. I told her she made a wise decision and ensured her she was indeed moving closer to her goal of landing a nursing position.
Shannon told me she would begin immediately to look at the ‘job tab’ and let me know what happened in our next session. Well, she set her goal. This turned out to be a key component of her search, and she did not know it at the time.
I sent Shannon the following questions: What medical facilities have you identified on Linkedin? Have you researched them? If not, why not? If so, how many have you researched? Did you find any near you?
Our fifth coaching session went very well. Shannon had answered the questions by saying she identified several medical facilities near her and some up to 150 miles away. She researched the ones closest to her first and only a few that required long traveling time. Shannon had identified the human resource personnel she needed to contact as well as the contact information.
On Day One of her search she had less than fifty connections; within ten dayss this number had grown to more than 75.
The next step was to put all of the puzzle pieces together. With her permission I guided Shannon to use LinkedIn and Facebook to look for connections who matched her target companies. When she found one, she then approached them with the immediate goal of validating her choice of them as a target. Quite a few companies disappeared from the list very quickly.
I then asked Shannon permission to introduce her to something on Linkedin that she may have missed.
When I showed it to her she found an opening at a company on her target list and a first level connection as well. Eleven days went by which included a telephone screening and also the disappearance of the job opening from the web site. Shannon thought that they didn’t like her.
Our sixth coaching session Shannon sounded a little underwhelmed. She had been checking her Linkedin account daily and nothing had been happening for the past 10 days. She told me she may be too anxious. I told her to calm down and things will begin to happen in a short while. She told me the one place in particular was ideal for her. She could get to work in ten minutes, she would not have to leave before the boys went to school, it was just perfect. She thought the telephone interview went well. She had done her research and felt comfortable with all the questions she responded to.
I asked if she thought she needed a seventh session to which she responded “no”. She thanked me for everything and said she would recommend me to others. But something didn’t seem quite right to me.
Our Skype connection ended. I thought I’d catch up with her on facebook. Several days went by and I had not heard from Shannon and then she popped up in facebook chat. She told me she had a second telephone interview and they asked her to come in person the following day. She was so excited. They wanted to meet with her face to face. She said she’d let me know how it went.
“That’s wonderful! All your hard work paid off. You know how to reach me. I cannot hardly wait to hear from you!” I coached her a little at this point.
“How will you react when they make you an offer?”
“I’d be so thrilled I’d take it, of course!”
“Will you ask for it in writing?”
“Oh, I didn’t think of that, I just don’t want to blow it. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked. I just want to go back to work, you know?”
“Shannon, how would you feel if you accepted a nursing position and it turned out to be in a department you don’t really want to work in? What if they offer you something in the Burn ward?”
“You are right of course. I will ask for everything in writing before I accept any position. I don’t want to work in the Burn unit. I only want to work in Pediatrics or Geriatrics”.
Shannon popped up again and began a facebook chat. “They offered me a part time position in Pediatrics”.
“Did you accept it?”
“I asked what my chances are for being hired full time”.
“They said they would try to let me know in a few weeks”.
“How many weeks, exactly?”
“I don’t know”.
“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to look at some of my other options. I found some other medical facilities on Linkedin, thanks to you”.
“You are well on your way. Can you look at that as a practice interview?”
“Yes, that’s what I’ll consider that one..practice. I’ll let you know how things work out.”
Shannon shifted her perspective.
I wrote a recommendation for Shannon on Linkedin. I did this to increase her connections. I make it a point to connect with many types of businesses on Linkedin.
I hadn’t heard from Shannon in about a week. She called me on Skype one evening and told me she had an interview with a hospital 27 miles from her home. She was excited about it. With her permission I began to ask her practice interview questions. She did amazingly well.
Shannon told me she was hired in the Pediatric ward of a hospital 27 miles from her home. She was so excited she didn’t have to relocate and they wanted her to begin that same week.
The lesson to learn from this true story is that persistence, perseverance, and following all of the necessary steps can reap great rewards in a reasonable amount of time.
Your comments are appreciated!
Dona M Davis, Life Coach
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