393: Changing Careers (When You Don’t Know Your Next Job Title)

Most people don’t make a career change because they’re worried about what they might lose by making a change. Listen to this conversation to hear how Alyson avoided that problem entirely!

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Guest

Alyson Thompson, Client Success Specialist

Alyson was a hospitality professional who figured out her strengths and navigate her way to her ideal career as a Client Success Specialist.

on this episode

Alyson faced a big challenge as she navigated a career change. 

She did all the work to identify what she really wanted in her life and a career, but as Alyson started to search for open positions, she realized that what she was looking for didn’t always match up with what companies said they were looking for.

Most people don’t make a career change because they’re worried about what they might lose by making a change. Listen to this conversation to hear how Alyson avoided that problem entirely!

What you’ll learn

  • How to bring with the best pieces of your old career to your next opportunity
  • What if you don’t know your next job title? (how to search anyway)
  • How to engineer luck when changing your career 
  • How to cherry-pick the best part of your role to keep

Success Stories

I think what helped me the most was focusing on my strengths and the connections that this process, the whole happened here, the career change bootcamp, those connections that basically you're prompted to go reconnect with people right? So, that helped me the most because the roller coaster that I was on with the role that I was in that I was trying to exit from, again, it realizing that people had a positive view of me and that they saw things that maybe I didn't see in myself really helped me articulate who I already was and who I wanted to be in my next role, if that makes sense.

Elizabeth , Digital Marketing Analytics Strategist, United States/Canada

I wanted to thank you because you have helped me land a job that is more fulfilling in every way than a job I thought I could have had before I met you. The work you did and the techniques you taught me literally changed my life.

Eric Murphy, Science Teacher, United States/Canada

Sometimes you just need someone who has done these things before to make it easier. Scott’s advice allowed me to get exactly what I wanted out of my new job!

Andrew Trujillo, Digital Marketing, United States/Canada

My brain always goes 'Well, what's the worst that could happen?' And that was another one of the exercises from Figure Out What Fits and once you realize what the worst that can happen is, it's not really that bad. In the big scheme of things, it might knock it back for a minute or two, but it's not not a biggie. They have not found it to happen yet. So I've just been pleasantly surprised every step of the way.

Mark Sinclair, Photograher, Australia

Getting clear on what I wanted helped me to recognize how perfect this opportunity was when it came along and the choice to switch was a no-brainer. Thanks for doing the work you do!

Austin Marlar, Frontend Developer, United States/Canada

Nadia Career Change HTYC

If you're stuck, if you want to know what to do, go listen to this podcast, it will change your life. And I was thinking, "great, okay." And then of course, I go to the website, and everything that I read, it was like, "Yes, this is what I've been looking for."

Nadia , Support Team Coordinator, United Kingdom

Alyson Thompson 00:03
One of the frustrating things about job hunting is that, you can type in a very general title like account manager, and then like a million jobs will pop up for account manager. But if you look at the actual role, that can be take five out of those million, they're all going to be different.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:47
We've had a lot of episodes on this podcast, about how to create new roles for yourself. But what about when you're trying to figure out what existing roles out there? Which ones are right for you? This was Alyson Thompson's biggest challenge as she navigated a career change moving from the hospitality industry to finding a brand new organization and role this past year. She did all the work to identify what she really wanted in her life. And what she really wanted out of her career, she figured out what her signature strengths were, she did all of this really great work to be able to set the groundwork. But then she started searching for specific roles.

Alyson Thompson 01:28
It really took a lot of paying closer attention to those details of like, okay, what are they actually telling me that I'm going to be doing and being able to filter out the ones that I knew were gonna be a waste of my time?

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:38
As Alyson started to search for open positions, she realized that what she was looking for, didn't always match up with what companies said they were looking for. Sometimes, companies would use a title that she's typed in and found, but then she got to the actual job description and the posting, and the responsibilities didn't match at all, what she expected to see. And conversely, she would find the job description she was looking for, but with a different title for the role. So if you've experienced this problem, too, you know that Alyson had to learn how to adapt her job search to find the right role for her. Spoiler alert, she did find her ideal career. But one of the best things that Alyson did early on, was begin identifying what she already had in the past, in past roles, past opportunities that was important for her to take with her into the next opportunity, that next role. Now this is especially important because most people don't actually make career changes, or they stop themselves from making great changes for them, because they're worried about what they might lose by making that change. Listen, later on in my conversation with Alyson, you'll get to hear how she avoided that problem entirely.

Alyson Thompson 02:53
Originally, my academic focus in college was psychology. So when I was in college, I was very, I was relatively certain that that was kind of the field that I wanted to be in. So I did all my coursework. And, you know, as I hit my junior and senior year, that's when you're doing more of that intensive, like internships and getting that hands on experience. And I loved the volunteer work that I did, like, I loved everything that I learned, but I had to make a judgment call with myself when it was like, okay, it's time to figure out like, what I want to do postgrad, I had to make a judgment call of like, okay, is this something that I can really see myself doing as an actual career? I'm kind of a bleeding heart type of person, like, I'm a very empathetic, emotional sponge type of person. And so as much as I love helping people, and volunteering and getting experience and all these different areas of you know, what being in the psychology field can expose you to, I was basically like, I know, I would bring my work home every day, and I just be miserable, and no longer good and effective at my job. If I decided that I wanted to be like a therapist, or you know, a counselor or something like that. When I graduated, I just took like, a random, like, it was like probably the worst job I ever had. But it was like one of those like, cold calling, like type of jobs where you're like, have to make X amount of calls a day, and you know, talk to X amount of people per day. And like, I just felt like it was sucking my soul out. And so that was kind of the time where I was like, Okay, what is it that I feel like is going to kind of feed my soul a little bit, I did the one thing that I never do, which is quit a job without having another job. And I took an unpaid internship at this place in Chicago called the standard Club, which is like a social, like a historical social club in Chicago. And I interned in their membership and marketing and events department. And so that was my initial exposure into you know, what goes into marketing events and coming up with, you know, event concepts and doing like event marketing material for the members of this club. And so I was only there for four months, but it was really like really, really great exposure into the world of events. So after four months, I got my first catering job here in Chicago at this, like, upscale is like a gourmet, almost like a fancier version of a whole foods, but they also had like a restaurant and like a coffee shop. And they also did catering services for like corporate companies like drop offs and things like that. So that was my first official catering role. And then they also offered like event services through their catering. So I got exposure to what the world of you know, off premise catering events are in catering and things like that. So that's really what kind of skyrocketed me into what turned out to be about a seven year career in catering events wedding. So over the course of those seven years, I kind of bounced around into like a little like different areas of catering, which was pretty awesome, because I kind of got to experience every side of events from the sales side and the venue like selling event spaces and selling catering services and dealing with more high end clientele. And after working within like a catering and events company, my goal was to eventually land in hotels, which I did eventually do. So I was doing just the catering and event sales for about, I think, three years. And then after those three years, I got my first hotel job.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:17
What made it your goal at the time to move into hotels? Because I heard you say that, a minute ago.

Alyson Thompson 06:23
I just thought that that was like the place to be, you know what I mean? Like when I think about like career development and career trajectory, and just like further career opportunities, I thought, okay, if I move in, into the hotel world, that will kind of expose me to one a different type of environment that I hadn't experienced before. And then just thinking about, like, the different departments and roles within hotels, you know, I thought, okay, I'll have a little bit more flexibility and a little bit more movement and career advancement, which... it kind of happened that way, but sort of not, which is how I ended up reaching out to you guys. But I did do about, I would say I was in hotel specifically for four years. So from about 2015 to 20, well 2020, technically, so five years of just strictly hotels, doing event sales and catering sales within the hotel space, which was really cool. Like, it kind of gave me a little bit more balance in my experience where previously I was mostly dealing with like weddings and more like nonprofit things like that, being in hotels gave me more of that corporate exposure of dealing with corporate clients. So I would say by the end of it all, like I felt very, like well rounded, and just the different kinds of clients I was used to dealing with. And the different kind of instances that arise when you're dealing with different clients. Like the things you deal with with a wedding client is going to be very different from the things that you deal with with a huge, you know, financial company, you know, here in Chicago, and just being able to have that experience, got great experience, love what I was doing, but looking at, okay, what's going to be my next step? Because I'm a very, I'm a planner, that's like, that's what I do. And I'm always thinking, like... I'm always thinking, what's the next step? Like, how can I learn more? How can I grow my skills, like, I'm always kind of looking for ways to kind of grow and expand because as much as I love what I do, like, I don't want to get bored and you know, end up being doing the same thing for 20 years and, you know, never really like growing. And so when I was thinking about that, and thinking about just kind of like the hotels that I was involved in, I realized that the structure of the roles within a hotel varies based on the hotel and the size of the hotel, ended up being a little bit more limiting than what I thought. So, for example, my role in my, when I was at my hotel, it was a catering manager, I started out as a catering manager ended up being senior catering manager, I already had a director, so it's like, and he's been there for like almost a decade. So it's like, okay, it's a long shot, you know what I mean? of me being able to get promoted to catering director or assistant director or, you know, any of those higher level positions, and some hotels don't even have those higher level positions, you know what I mean? So I was like, Okay, I can either sit here and you know, just kind of go through the same motions and be okay with just being a senior level catering manager and hope that something else better comes along, or I could potentially explore something else, even though I like to grow and you know, learn new things. Like I'm also a creature of habit. So it's like the idea of not doing something remotely similar to what I was, what I've already been doing for seven years. I was like, asking myself, like, Alyson, you're crazy. Like, what do you mean, you don't want to do this anymore? But I didn't want to ignore that feeling. You know what I mean? I didn't want to ignore the fact that, you know, I was starting to feel a little bit of burnout and then I was starting to feel almost like a sense of unfulfillment, you know, in what I was doing, and...

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:54
I'm curious about that, when you say almost a sense of unfulfillment for what you're doing, what did that mean for you? I've definitely felt something I would describe, it might be different from person to person.

Alyson Thompson 10:04
I feel like for me, like when I think of when I was feeling like that sense of unfulfillment, I felt like I'm not using all of my skillset to the full potential that I can, like, I wasn't operating on my full potential, like, I don't want to say that I felt like I was like wasting my talent, that's a little bit aggressive. But I kind of felt like, you know, there's more that I could be doing, if I was in a different place, or if you know, my role was a little bit different. And then like, I started noticing, like little things like, Okay, if I was a director, or if I was higher up in my department, there are definitely some changes that I would want to make. And I tried with the power that I did have to try to implement some of those changes. But it just within the hotel world, you know, there's, I don't want to say bureaucracy, but there's definitely like, it has to go through a process of you know, getting things approved. And sometimes it can take years and you know, being within a sales position, it's like, you want to make sure that you're being keeping up with your competitors. And it's like, if I see three of my other competitor hotels doing this awesome thing that people are really responding to, and it's going to take my hotel two years to do that. Like, that's very frustrating for me, you know what I mean?

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:17
Absolutely.

Alyson Thompson 11:18
So that was just some of those things that I just kind of started to kind of notice, that was just like, not sitting well with me. And then I started to think, well, maybe I need to just be doing something else, you know. And that's when it kind of really started the journey of okay, how do I start from square one, because that's basically what I was trying to do. And I knew that, you know, I didn't want to be left to my own devices as far as just like the job hunting process, because I knew that I wanted it to be different. Like, it's not like I was trying to make a lateral move of just going to another hotel, or you know, leaving hotels, but going to like a different, like a venue, like an event venue or something like that, like I knew I wanted it to be something different. And I knew I wanted to really give myself the opportunity to do some of that deeper exploration of like, okay, let's really take some time and figure out what I'm really looking for. So that way, you know, I'm not job hunting again, and like another year and a half. And so that's how I kind of started doing the process of like, okay, should I, you know, hire a career counselor, and just kind of looking at the services that are out there. And I can't even remember, I think I like stumbled upon, like an article on LinkedIn. And the article had mentioned, something Happen To Your Career related on the article. And that's how I found you guys. So thank God for LinkedIn, because I'm always on LinkedIn.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:43
The magic of the internet and LinkedIn. And eventually, you found your way over here. A couple things that I'm super curious about. One, you mentioned that if growth is something that's really important to you, and I would probably say that, you know, as human beings, we all need to be able to grow, otherwise, we become stagnant. And then even if everything else lines up really well, then it still feels like there's a piece missing. But one of the things that I found is that what growth means is pretty different from person to person, what each individual needs is pretty different from person to person. So I'm curious, what were some of the pieces that were really important to you as it relates to growth? I heard one of them, like you wanted the opportunity to move up and have new experiences, and it sounded like, there you perceived that it was gonna be limited eventually. What else did you mean, when you say, and talk about growth?

Alyson Thompson 13:38
In time thinking about, you know, some of those key things that I was looking for in my next opportunity, obviously, having opportunities to learn more, even if it's not necessarily directly related to whatever my role is, like just having the option to be able to explore other areas of a company, I thought that would be not necessarily like a must have. But definitely a very strong nice to have. A must have, for me was definitely like being somewhere where it's a good quality team dynamic. But it's also a very interactive team dynamic, where it's like, we can toss around ideas, and we can give feedback and have that feedback be taken into consideration. And then ultimately put into practice to just improve what we're doing. Like that was a really, really big piece for me, because it's like, especially being client facing like, it's a very interesting position to be in. And if you're good at your job, and I don't want to toot my own horn, but like, I feel like I'm pretty, you know, to what I do, you know what I mean? Yeah, and it's just like being able to not just, you know, meet their needs and provide a service but also kind of being able to create a relationship where you can get more like nuggets of information from them. That's going to improve what your company is doing. Being in a position where you're always talking to the client. It's an area of opportunity for myself, for my role, but also for the company to be able to say, hey, you know, I'm dealing with, you know, a handful of clients, a lot of them are giving me this feedback, saying that they would like to see us do these 10 things. Can we do five of these 10 things that they're asking us for, and being able to implement things that ultimately makes the people that we're serving happier and more efficient in whatever it is that they're trying to achieve. And so that was like a really, really big thing for me. And then also some of the other things like a company that is invested in your growth outside of just the company. So tuition reimbursement or certifications, opportunities to just learn and grow personally for yourself outside of just whatever your role is, I thought that would be like a really awesome plus to have. And then like work life balances was an important one for me too. And I think obviously, that's just comes from being in the industry that I was in where sometimes, especially during busy season in Chicago, like constant conferences going on around the city, constant weddings, events, and everything like that. So there will be a lot of times where it's like, I'll have a late night, and I don't get home until like 10, because I had a meeting to oversee, like at six o'clock or something like that. So I really just wanted to kind of move away from that and just kind of be somewhere where my hours were a little bit more defined. And I don't mind kind of going above and beyond if I need to. But it's like I don't have to be clocked in or be plugged in at 10 o'clock at night, like just being able to just like really step away from the computer, step away from the desk and just be done for the day and refreshed and do what I need to do to be ready for the next day.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:34
So that's interesting as a part of that. When you say work life balance part of that for you was just being able to step away at the time, you wanted to step away, and be able to have that type or that level of flexibility.

Alyson Thompson 16:49
Yeah, exactly.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:50
I can definitely appreciate that, I think is about four or five years. I can't remember now. That's weird that I can't remember now. But the time I spent with target, which is a retailer, and very, very popular retailer in the United States, and it was a wonderful organization to work for. However, if you support it stores in any way whatsoever...

Alyson Thompson 17:11
You will have no life.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:13
Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that in some ways was part of it. And what was originally kind of a dream job for me not kind of it was a dream job for me. It ended up turning into as I evolved and I decided I wanted much more flexibility and much more space. And it turned into something that no longer was a fit because I had to be there, they had on deck days, if you're supporting stores, and if you know anything about retail, you know that it gets really popular. Around, say Thanksgiving, Christmas, you know, Black Friday, all of those time periods. Everyone was there, everybody was on board. And it was actually a ton of fun. But it became more important to me to be with my family and everything else. So I can totally appreciate what you're saying. Another question for you, though, as you got to the end of this, realize that you wanted to make a change started thinking about, hey, this is a bigger change than, I heard you say, hey, what this sounds crazy, like... they're going from something that you had spent a lot of time, had a lot of experience. And then in some ways, it was a wide open frontier transition the next thing other than what you already knew you wanted, but how did you think about what would help you make that next move? I know, we got the opportunity to work with you on this one. But I'm curious, you know, as you were in that transition, how you were thinking about like, hey, here's what I need, because this sounds crazy?

Alyson Thompson 18:41
Yeah, I knew that I wanted more than just your run of the mill courier service. And not to say that there aren't good careers, a ton of good career services out there. It's just that they're all structured differently. And a lot of them that I was finding had more focus on some of those more tangible skills of like, resume writing, and you know, prepping for interviews and like those sorts of things. But I knew that I wanted to focus more on some of that, like all the things that happens before you even get to applying for a job like that was what I wanted to focus on. Whether that was getting a deeper understanding of what my skills and abilities are and getting a deeper understanding of you know, okay, what kinds of things do I want out of a job or like what kinds of things would excite me about a certain type of role like really doing kind of like that exploratory work? I wanted something that was going to really focus on some a lot of that first before we even get into applying and resumes and stuff like that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:43
Why was that important to you? That's awesome.

Alyson Thompson 19:46
Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:47
However, I'm curious why that was important to you at that time?

Alyson Thompson 19:50
Because I wanted to make sure that I was setting myself up for the success in the right way. Like I wanted to make sure that like I didn't shoot myself in the foot by trying to make this big life change and not going about it the right way. And I knew that part of having that be this be a successful transition, I knew that that exploratory and kind of research. And like that building up piece, like I knew that that was important. I was like, okay, like I, because I really did like, like I said before, like, I really didn't want to just apply to a bunch of random jobs, that kind of sound good. And then I get a job, and then I hate it. And then it's like, I'm back to square one again, after like, a year, a year and a half. It's like, because I was really looking for, aside from all those other things, like I was really looking thinking of longevity, and really thinking of like, this isn't just like, my next new job, like, I'm really trying to transition into a new career. And it's a subtle difference but it's very different. When you're job hunting, and you're just like, oh, I'm just trying to get another job, just have another job and thinking about it from like, I'm trying to build a new career, if that makes sense.

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:58
Yeah, absolutely. So with the transition itself, as you started transitioning, what in the beginning was different than how you thought it would be?

Alyson Thompson 21:09
I have to be honest with myself, I'm a patient person. But when it comes to like things like exploring and digging deep, like I'm all for it. But when it's more of like an extensive, like drawn out process, I get a little bit impatient. So something that was different was like I didn't really expect a lot of the earlier training modules. Like I didn't expect so many of those to be focused on the exploring and figuring out what you need and figuring out what makes you tick. And all that exploring piece, like I was like, oh, like, I'll be doing this for like two or three weeks, like no, like, that was a very extensive portion of the program, which ended up being exactly what I needed. But I didn't really expect that like in the beginning. And so I was like, Oh, well, this is different, but I'll just roll with it and see what happens.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:01
Why do you say that? Because I think that that's a really common thing. And I very much am that way. I very much I'm like, okay, so where's the part where we get to do the thing that gets me? Like, how can we make that happen in next week? Not like, whenever. But I'm curious about your statement that it ended up being exactly what you need. What do you mean when you say that?

Alyson Thompson 22:22
Because it just, I feel like it was exactly what I needed. Because I basically like I knew what I was asking for when I was, I knew what I was looking for in a program. But like, I think I underestimated, like I knew the importance of it. But like, I think I underestimated even within myself, like how important that is. And it ended up being exactly what I needed. Because by the time I got to the point of the job searching portion, I felt so much more confident in what I was looking for. Because I had done all that preliminary work of exploring myself, and really understanding what my strengths are, and, you know, comparing and contrasting my previous roles and kind of seeing like those kind of common themes of what keeps coming up and thinking about Okay, well, what did I hate about all my jobs, and you know, really kind of ingraining those things into my mind. So that way, it's like I had a pretty solid roadmap of how to navigate the process once I was ready to start looking for jobs. And I feel like if I didn't do that, then I probably wouldn't have been able to be as specific when I was doing the actual job searches. If that makes any sense.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:28
I think so. So tell me more about that. When you say, if you hadn't done that, the previous work, you wouldn't be able to be as specific. So where did that actually help you out? How did that translate into getting closer to where you wanted to go?

Alyson Thompson 23:44
I think the great thing that was helpful for me is that before you get to the part of the program, where you're actually job searching, you're kind of thinking about the concept of what your ideal role is, and kind of a more broader scope. So it's not necessarily about okay, what's the actual position? It's about, okay, what's the broader scope of what you're looking for? And having that in mind. So looking at, you know, okay, these are the strengths that I need to keep in mind when I'm looking or these are the things that I know, I don't like to keep in mind when I'm looking and okay, like, here's some common threads that I need to make sure I have in my mind when I'm looking at these jobs. So it really kind of saves me a lot of like, unnecessary work of looking at jobs that I knew wasn't for me. I was like, oh, I already know this isn't for me, because it's not meeting the criteria that I had previously established for myself as far as what I was looking for.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:42
Do you remember any of those? I'm super curious. It seems like everyone always goes through that type of transition where, you know, yep, that's no good. That's no good. What were some of those for you? Do you recall?

Alyson Thompson 24:55
I can't remember any specific roles off the top of my head and one of those furstrating things about job hunting is that you can type in a very general title. And then like a mill, like account manager, and then like a million jobs will pop up for account manager. But if you look at the actual roles, like can you take five out of those million, they're all going to be different. And so it was about kind of like comparing and contrasting, okay, don't focus on the title, but look at the actual the meat of what you're going to be doing. And so when I was looking like I would like things that would be red flags for me would be like, oh, well, you know, you have a quota. Like, because I've already done the sales thing. And one of the stressful things about being in a sales role is having to worry about hitting quotas, or having to worry about making quarterly or annual goals. And I was like, I do not want that. I just want to be able to start my day and work with my clients and be productive and not have to worry about meeting the numbers. Like I don't want to be the numbers girl, like I want to be the focus on supporting your clients girl, anything that had kind of like a quota component. I was like, I already knew I didn't want that. And anything that even sounded remotely salesy. I knew I didn't want that, like, you know what I mean? So it really took a lot of paying closer attention to those details of like, Okay, what are they actually telling you that I'm going to be doing, and being able to kind of like quickly kind of just filter out the ones that I knew were going to be a waste of my time.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:19
What was the hardest part or parts of the transition for you?

Alyson Thompson 26:24
I think for me, and I think the thing that made it more difficult was the pandemic because I feel like it made the process and like the timing of just how I wanted to time things out, it made it worse, because so many people were affected by the pandemic, and a lot more people are looking for jobs. And, you know, employers are now taking a lot longer of a time period to hire because they have to figure out how they're going to manage their business in a pandemic. So I feel like just being like in the meat of this process in the middle of the pandemic really sucked. And I had to have a lot more patience with just knowing that it was going to take longer than usual to hear back from people. So that was very difficult. And I think the other part, though, that I felt was a little bit difficult for me was, I think, like, in the beginning, when I first started the job hunting process, like I was very, like narrow with just like the positions I was looking at. And you know, thank God for my career coach, because she really pushed me to broaden my scope a little bit and kind of think outside of the box and really think about reminding myself to think about like the content of the role and not the title of the role. Because I was very, it's easy for us to get hooked up on titles, you know what I mean? Because that's all we really have to go on when we're looking for jobs. And so like, I really had to push myself to broaden my horizons and kind of think a little bit more outside the box. And, you know, once I started being more creative with keywords and things like that, then that's when I really started like rocking and rolling with like finding jobs that I thought would be a better fit for me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:03
So that's really interesting on a couple components. First of all, you mentioned the pandemic. And that's been really fascinating. It's been horrific in many ways. And I don't want to under, you know, I don't want to undermine that. However, it also has been fascinating to see how it relates to job search boot, partially because we've seen it create a lot of opportunities for people, not for everyone. We have also seen the other side of it, too. But I'm curious for you, do you think that if you hadn't already been into your job search already, then that would have been harder to start? Or tell me a little bit about how you think about that overall?

Alyson Thompson 28:44
That's a good question, I think it would have been more difficult had I had not already kind of been into the groove of already kind of looking and kind of figuring things out. I think if I would have been like at the beginning of my process in the middle of the pandemic, I probably would have been a little bit more overwhelmed with just like, the number of jobs and like the number of applicants at each job. And like I just would have been a lot more overwhelmed than I was with the timing the way that things played out. It was a challenge, but I was able to kind of navigate it a little bit better.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:16
When you were thinking about the broadening horizons beyond job title. I'm curious, what advice would you give other people as it relates to that? Partially because I consistently see, I've now been able to ask you many hundreds of people this type of question on the... And that's one of the things that pops up over and over again, as something that was hard for people in how to think about it, but also very helpful as well. And that in some ways made the difference for some of the folks who've been able to work with and help through this process. So I'm curious for you, what advice would you give other people as it relates to looking at job titles, broadening your horizons, focusing on what you want? Tell me a little bit about that.

Alyson Thompson 29:59
I think my advice would be to be open minded. Obviously, in certain situations, it's easier to discern whether a job is a good fit for you. Like if you see a job that's like veterinarian tech, and you know that you don't want to do that, that's a lot more straightforward. But I think it's important for people to remember that, I don't know, maybe this might be some insight that people aren't aware of. But like, I feel like sometimes these companies, they're not always 100% certain of what a role should be called. And all they have is like they know, they can tell you what you're going to be doing day to day. And that's pretty straightforward. But what that title is actually called, it's like, oh, what is this kind of sound like, oh, this kind of sounds like an account manager. And so they just call it an account manager. You know what I mean? And so I think like, knowing that going in, I think that that will really help people, and just kind of remind people to not get so hung up on the title that you see, but pay more attention to the responsibilities and let that be your guide for whether you apply or not. But also let that be a guide for how you continue to search for other jobs. And when I was mentioning keywords, like when I was kind of playing around with job titles, and things like that, when I started to kind of pick up on some patterns of you know, some of like, the keywords that kept popping up for certain types of roles. That's when I was like, okay, you know, because, for example, like my position now, so my official title is client success specialist. And so when I was searching for client success, customer success, account manager was still popping up because some of those responsibilities were overlapping. Just kind of keep that in mind that like the responsibilities that you're looking for, they may overlap with other roles, that might just be called something else. And if you start to see that pattern, start using that other title, or some of those other keywords associated with that title in your search to kind of get a little bit closer to hitting the nail on the head on the types of positions that you're most interested in applying to.

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:05
Alyson, in your role now, as you... Let's push off the title to your point. The title is, in a lot of cases, irrelevant. However, tell me a little bit about what are the pieces of your role or roles now that you get to do that you love that really match up with what you were looking for?

Alyson Thompson 32:25
Yeah, so that's a good question. One of the things I know that we focus a lot about, like, on what I did, and didn't want to my next role, but one of the things that I was already doing that I wanted to remain constant, and whatever my next step was, was that client interaction, like, that's one of my favorite things. I love building relationships with my clients. And sometimes, like within the hotel business, like you're not always, you don't always work with the same clients all the time. But it does happen. Like I've had clients that I've worked with, like two and three times, you know, over the course of a few years, just based on that relationship that I built with them. And you know, when you work on, you know, a large program, or like a huge wedding or something like when you work with someone over the span of like nine months on this huge thing. Like you feel like you've been in the trenches, and like you've accomplished something with your client. And I love that feeling. And I was like, well, you know, I know, I don't want to be in hotels, but if I can find something, or I can still support and kind of coach and consult with clients like that would be amazing. And so in my current role, that's pretty much what I do. Like I do do that, like sometimes I kind of yell at my clients a little bit, only because my company right now was focusing on, it's a health and wellness company. Yeah. And they were able to really pivot with the pandemic. So a lot of the work that I'm doing right now is with administrators and directors of nursing, for nursing home facilities for COVID testing. So we're basically providing us like a COVID testing program in these facilities. So my direct clients that I'm dealing with are the administrators and the directors of nursing on their day to day COVID testing processes. And because it's a pandemic, and it's COVID testing, and you know, it's important, and it's people's health, like sometimes I kind of have to, like buckle down on them and be like, you shouldn't have done that. But it's okay, we're gonna figure it out. But so that's what I mean, when I say sometimes I feel dumb. But for the most part, you know, I'm talking to these people every day, we're in constant communication every single day. I've only been working with you know, a lot of these people. I think it's been, what month are we in now? December? It's been about like a month. Yeah, I feel like it's been a year already. Over the span of just the month and a half I've been working with them. It's like, we have a relationship and we have a rapport now and we're we've kind of gotten into the groove of them kind of understanding like what my style is as their designated clients. It's a specialist but me also understanding what their style of communication is and how they work and operate from a day to day basis. And sometime when I call and because something went wrong, or I need to figure something out, I end up having awesome conversation. And hey, how was your Thanksgiving? Oh, it was great. Like, I love that kind of stuff it's like so it's like you really build a relationship with the people that you work with. So that's probably like the biggest thing that's kind of carried over from being in hotels to being in this world of healthcare now, which I'm learning a lot. But it's been fun.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:20
I think it's so important, what you mentioned about the idea of carrying over those things, those pieces that you want to remain, or those pieces that you already enjoyed, I think so many people describe this type of process, when they're originally thinking about it the way that you mentioned earlier, and I'm moving to brand new territory, it's like the Wild West out there, like so. But in reality, almost every single person that we get to participate in their change, is doing something similar to what you just described, they're pulling out, at least some pieces that they want to be able to carry over and bring with them. So it often is less about a brand new, moving into the wild west, starting over type process, it's really not that in a lot of different ways, is it bringing with those pieces that you enjoy and to be able to bring those pieces what you enjoy, you also have to bring a lot of the skills and experiences and other pieces, otherwise you don't get to continue doing those.

Alyson Thompson 36:21
Exactly.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:22
I so appreciate you pointing that out. Because that is, that almost brings us full circle in some ways where people start thinking about the change versus how it actually ends up too. That's so cool that, you have done. One, you know, you identified these pieces from the very beginning that you wanted to keep, the pieces that you want it to be different. And then you were able to find that in the real world. And now even in a year of COVID you're actively doing that, congratulations. Yeah.

Alyson Thompson 36:53
Thank you. It's really bizarre, because I feel like if you cuz I started this process, I think it was a year ago, like, I think I officially got on board with you guys like right before Thanksgiving of last year.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:04
Oh my goodness. Had it been that long? Wow.

Alyson Thompson 37:05
It has been that long. And I did... like I did take like a break. Like when the pandemic hit, I had to like, you know, put a pause on things and kind of figure out how to, like manage my life. But like, if you would have told me a year ago that like I was going to be working for like a health care company that deals with labs and testing and genetics and all these other things I'd be like, that doesn't really sound like something that I would do. But like, that's what I'm doing. And the company, it's like a newer company, like it's growing. Like, I feel very comfortable. Like, I feel like I found my fit. And I also kind of feel like I got lucky cuz I kind of found my people to like, my, like my team, like the client success team, they're just like a bunch of amazing humans. And, you know, we have a really, really good dynamic. And that's like one of those kind of like, bonus things. Because like, when you're thinking about what's going to be a good fit for you and company culture and things like that, when you really do the work of figuring that out. And you get to where you want to go, you realize that like the people that are already there are like your vibe with people, you know what I mean? So it's kind of like a nice little bonus, that can pop, that can come out of, you know, doing a career transition and doing the work of figuring out what really makes you tick. And then you find awesome people, that kind of tick, the thing where you do you know.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:23
Alyson, I love how you're thinking about that that's something that actually gets missed a lot of the times between myself and the rest of the team, we get to have conversations, many conversations every single day at this point. However, as we're having those conversations, rarely does someone actually point that out, even after the fact sometimes that gets missed. So I think that's super cool. Because what you just said, I don't want to be lost on everyone, when you go and you take the time and effort and energy to be able to do all of the work of defining clarifying what you want. And then yeah, and then actually go in and get it in the real world. The byproduct of that is you're in a better fit all the way around, including the types of people that you're surrounded by. And that's something that is... it relates to everything, it relates to like the types of relationships that you're already having existence, it relates to having a higher quality of life, that relates to you being able to be more productive, because you're surrounded by the type of people you want to be surrounded with that are also supporting ways that you need and all those things. So I really appreciate you pointing that out.

Alyson Thompson 39:31
Yeah, and that's actually a piece that I forgot not to interject. But one of the other things that was on the top of my list was company culture. And I'm kicking myself that I forgot it, but that was kind of a thing that I wanted to keep in the back of my mind. And you know, I'm a very chill person for the most part. And I'm also very productive and ambitious. I really wanted to find a nice balance of having kind of that company culture but I'm also a very socially conscious person, like, especially with you know, the climate of the world right now. with, you know, diversity, inclusion and things like that, it was one of those things where it's like I never, I always kind of had it in the back of my mind is something that I would either notice or pick up on. But I never really put my money where my mouth is and actually said, I want to be somewhere that is inclusive, and I want to be somewhere that's diverse. And that is something that's very important to me. And I'll be honest, like, when I was looking at some of these jobs and applying like, I was going on those websites and looking at what leadership looks like, and it was, I'll be honest, because I mean, I don't know, can people see me, they'll just hear me, right. I'm a black woman. And being a black woman, I wanted to make sure that I was going to be in an environment that would have my best interests at heart, but also have the best interests of all the different types of people that work for them. And so like if I looked at company culture, and all I saw was in, you know, higher ups in leadership all the way down is like older white men, that was kind of a red flag, because then it's like, how are they going to be able to support me, and any other person who is a woman or someone who is of a different ethnicity? How are they going to know and be able to support me in my career, having those different kind of diverse backgrounds. And so that was something that I was really, really looking into too. And I got really lucky, cuz my company is very, very diverse, you see all different kinds of folks, men, women, in all different levels of the company, all different ethnicities, all different backgrounds, and it's probably honestly, the most diverse company I've probably worked for, compared to a lot of the other ones. And so, you know, like, everybody has their priorities, everyone has their preferences. And that was just one of the ones for me, and I got really lucky with where I landed. As far as like, that being something that was a meeting of the minds, you know, you can tell that that's something that's important to everybody else in the company too.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:51
You know, I've heard you say, I got lucky, many times, one of the observations that I've had is...

Alyson Thompson 41:57
You're so observant.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:58
Into do the work, over and over again, are the ones that seem to get really lucky with the organizations that they arrive at. So I am going to say that there probably was some luck involved. There always is some element of luck involved, however, I compliment to you. on doing the work and being able to manufacture some of that luck, or at least the precursor to luck.

Alyson Thompson 42:22
Yeah, thank you, it was a lot of work, it was a lot of effort. It was, you know, a lot of, you know, moments of frustrations, and, you know, there were times where me and my coach Jennifer, like we... not, I wouldn't say butted heads, that sounds a little bit aggressive, but you know, we would have these like, moments of tension, where she's trying to get me to, you know, broaden my mind or see a different perspective. And, you know, finding the balance of, you know, what she's trying to tell me versus making sure my needs are met. So, you know, it wasn't all smooth sailing, it definitely was a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of energy, and especially with the pandemic, having to, you know, still find the motivation to like, you know, finish the process, and you know, really kind of, like, knock it out of the park and get it done. But it was definitely, definitely worth it. And who knows what kind of job I'd be in now, if I didn't do all of that work to make sure that I would end up where I wanted to be. And I feel like with the company that I'm at now, like, I'm getting all of the things that I needed, and then some because they do support career development, the director of operations, he wants to make sure that we're still engaged in the roles that we're in. And if not, you know, he's like, let me know, we can move you to a different team, or you can train and kind of shadow someone else and see if that's a better fit for you. And like, I love that flexibility and that movement. And even within the month and a half that I've been there, there's so many things are already changing. And there's so many things that I'm going to get exposed to now, like, I'll have to start running trainings now for onboarding clients, which was something that I was actually trying to get into that was one of the jobs I was trying to look into. But I didn't have that previous experience of doing kind of like that corporate training piece. And so now I get to do that, like, that's so awesome, you know. So it's like, it's really been like an exciting journey so far. And with the way that the company is growing, there's... I might be doing something completely different in a month from now, but it's very exciting to you know, have kind of that to look forward to, and it's like I'm never bored, and there's always something interesting going on. So it all worked out for the best.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:23
I appreciate you coming on and sharing your story and the hard parts as well as the fun parts and the results on the end. It's always one thing when we get people in snapshot at the end, where everybody's excited about moving into the new role and the new experiences and everything. But I appreciate you sharing also what was the challenge in the work and the other pieces that actually got you here as well.

Alyson Thompson 44:50
Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:50
What advice would you give someone, if we go way back, way back to a year ago where you were thinking about transitioning and you're in that space, realizing, "hey, you know what, I need to make a move, I realized that, you know, there's probably not opportunity for me for growth in the way that I want. And it's not going to serve me well any longer" and all the things that were going through your head way back then. What advice would you give to people that are in that situation right there, right now?

Alyson Thompson 45:16
I would say, first, it's okay to not be happy at your job, I feel like there's this like weird sense that, you know, we're just supposed to be at a place and you know, be there for 50 years and then retire. And that's it. And I feel like that, that way of, you know, looking at careers has changed so much over, you know, the course of, you know, the past few decades. And I feel like sometimes people can feel like a sense of guilt, if they're just, like, unhappy what they're doing. And sometimes it's like, oh, I feel guilty, but it's like, I don't want to leave because of, I love my co workers, or I don't want to leave because I've been here for five years, like all those little reasons why we tell ourselves not to do it, like it's okay. Like, it's okay to not be happy. And it's okay to not feel unfulfilled in your job. So that's the first thing that I would say like, it's okay. And you're like, I'm validating your feeling of, you know, unhappiness right now. Like, it's okay, that you feel that way. And I think the second part that I would really drive home is like, don't ignore that feeling. Like, no one knows yourself better than you. And follow your instincts. Like, if you have like that gut feeling, like if you have that thing, knowing in the back of your mind, that's telling you, I wish that things were different. Or if I was in this position, I would do things differently, or you know, whatever those thoughts are, like, lean into that a little bit. I know, it's very uncomfortable to think about blowing up your life and, you know, trying to do something different or switch a different job or think about relocating for a different job, like whatever the case is, like, I understand it can be intimidating, but really lean into that and really kind of think about, okay, what can I do to change the situation for myself? Like, what reasonable steps can I start to do to change some of these thoughts and feelings? And sometimes the answer isn't always leaving, like, sometimes the answer is talking to your manager and say, "Hey, can we do some things differently here?" "Hey, can I take on these projects?" Like, sometimes it's not always the answer. But if that ends up being the answer for you, like, that's totally okay. And you don't need to feel guilty about it. And at the end of the day, like it's your life, and it's your livelihood. And if you feel like it's a good step for you, then do it. And obviously, there are resources out there and people that are literally here to guide you through the steps because I didn't go through this alone at all. So you have like you have people there to support you. If it's something that you decide that you want to do, and if you want to explore it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 47:47
In the next episode, you'll see that there's a connection between success and fulfillment, when it comes to your career.

Jeffrey Madoff 47:53
The question arises, Scott, you know, if you're making really good money, but you hate what you're doing, and every day that you go to work, you find it a drag, are you successful? And to me, success and fulfillment are inextricably tied together.

Scott Anthony Barlow 48:14
That's Jeffrey Madoff. He started a clothing design company right out of college at 21 and then made several pivots throughout his life. Join us next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Until then, I am out. Adios.

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