284: Is Staying at a Job You Hate Holding You Back from Happiness?


Is staying at a job you hate holding you back from happiness? What if you’ve changed careers…and the new work wasn’t quite the fit you thought it would be?

That’s what happened to Audrey Romagnoulo. She was a talented Operations Manager working in the Events and Hospitality industry in New York City. She’d given much of herself to the job and had been rewarded with increasing responsibility, perpetual “thank yous” …and an increasing distaste for her work because what she valued most didn’t align with what the company valued.

When she came to us for help, it became apparent that the genuine, highly caring, no-holds-barred person that she was (and wanted to be more often) was being hampered because of the job she was working in.

This inability to be herself for 70 hours a week became so frustrating for her that it sparked an 11-month long journey to figure out what she really wanted and fight off the mental barriers that were keeping her stuck!

So how did she go from teary days staying at a job she hated to getting paid $20,000 more with a career that allowed her to be who she is?

Take a listen to Audrey’s story and find out!


After helping a couple thousand people make career changes, you notice a few commonalities.

We’ve realized that EVERYONE has barriers to making their change. Especially the busy, high achieving peeps that we’ve worked with. Audrey was no exception!

Audrey had 3 major barriers keeping her from making this change:

End-of-Day Energy Drain: She was working an absurd amount of hours and was drained by the time she was getting home from work and the hour commute each way.

Less Opportunities: She wanted to move to a smaller city many hours away that had less companies and less jobs.

No Job Title Experience: She had 10 years of professional experience but she had never worked in any of the professions that she was most interested in.

To get around these barriers we realized that we would have to do a few things.

  1. We set Audrey up on a schedule that allowed for her to do the work slowly with continuous effort every single week. This schedule allowed her to focus on doing the “work” for herself first thing in the day so that some of her best energy was going to herself.
  2. We realized that to be most effective she would have to avoid the “front door” (online applications) and go in the “back door” (relationships and connections) because she didn’t have the job title experience to be competitive AND because there were less opportunities in the area she want to relocate to.

We also knew that it would be critically important to make sure that Audrey’s next role was one that enabled her to be happy rather than detracted from her happiness.

This meant that she was going to have to do some experimenting to make sure that she got it right.


Audrey began by identifying what would make an ideal opportunity for her. Next, she created a list of companies that she thought might have the types of jobs and culture that she wanted. Then, she began test driving these companies to determine whether or not these were actually a fit.

What happened next is exactly why we always have our students test out their theories of who they actually want to work for and what environment will make them happy.

One of the companies on her short list was Google, partially because she wanted a more progressive environment than where she was already working and partially because they had office locations nearby where she wanted to live.

She worked to get introductions to people inside the company through a friend of her significant other (the weak ties are always there, most people just don’t realize it). She next scheduled some informal “no agenda” conversations to begin building relationships and learning more about the organizations.

These conversations led her to take a total 180 degree turn that may have saved her several years of another job and company that was the wrong fit!

She learned that she actually valued a much more traditional office environment rather than the open concept culture of places like Google.

There were a variety of reasons but Audrey put it this way.

“I learned that if I ever had to wait for someone to finish a game of ping pong so I could get what I needed for a project, I would probably go crazy”

Not at all what she expected! But boy was she glad she did the research as she could have easily ended up in one of those environments!

She also knew that she wanted to make more money in her next role but had no idea how much money she was losing by staying where she was!


I don’t think Audrey actually believed that she could make significantly more money while at the same time changing careers AND moving to a place with much lower cost of living (and lower pay).

…At least until we showed her the data for the types of roles she was exploring. I personally spent 10 minutes pulling together data from some of our favorite resources like Glassdoor.comSalary.com, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and we found that it was very likely Audrey could easily increase her salary by $10,000 – $30,000 annually!

This meant that for every month she was staying in her job she was losing $833 – $2500.

Here’s an example of how that works.

It doesn’t take a PhD in Applied Mathematics to figure out that not only is this amount what you’re losing every single month you’re in your current job, but that when when this begins to add up over years it adds to significant money for most people (especially if you are staying at a job you hate!).

For Audrey it meant $100,000 difference over the next 5 years. $300,000 over the next 30 years if Audrey never got another salary increase (highly unlikely).

So, in other words, changing jobs meant losing the equivalent of a large house where Audrey lives! (Or a reasonably nice apartment in Paris.)

What most people don’t take into account is that when you’re earning more in a job that you’re much more excited about, it gives you additional momentum because you’re more likely to get additional increases in the form of higher raises or promotions.

More important than all of the money, though, is that Audrey was able to get a job that allowed her to be herself and do what she was great at.


You know how you always hear those success stories of what other people have done? If you’re like me (or you’re human), sometimes they can make you a little jealous or depressed.

How come it always works out so well for those other people?

Well, here’s the hidden reality behind every single one of the success stories we’ve published:

Zero of them were easy, AND none of them went perfectly.

In fact, we find that much of the time we are helping our students make it easier to change to work they love by focusing on the right things, but focusing on the right things alone doesn’t automatically make you successful.

What happens when you get rejected from a company that you thought was going to give you an offer? Or when everybody is on vacation all at the same time and you feel like throwing in the towel on your career change because you don’t feel like you’re making progress? Or when things blow up at your current job and it sucks up all your time for 2 weeks straight?

All of these happened to Audrey.

It was hard to manage those things while working so much and working crazy hours commuting from state to state. I was crying on the bus ride to work and home sometimes. On those days my most fulfilling days were the days I finished a task. Rarely was it something I was doing on my own behalf.

The imbalance become more obvious as time went on. I was having hopeful conversations and I’d get really excited. I remember talking to this one company for three months and it was all positive but all of a sudden they closed the job because they acquired another office and had two people that could do the job. It was a huge slap in the face.

Even after all of this, she would still do it over again. When you make this type of change, it’s not just about making the change for more money, you end up taking back your life and your right to be yourself and live the life you want along the way.

It doesn’t happen all at once. For Audrey, it took over 11 months. It happens in small steps day after day.

Let me know what you’re going to do today to move yourself forward in the comments below (or congratulate Audrey on her recent change). Don’t let fear force you into staying at a job you hate!

Audrey Romagnuolo 00:04
I got this job in New York marketing in a timeshare industry and hated it because it was boring. The work wasn't very engaging. And although I got to interact with traveling people and transient guests all the time, I kind of felt stupid and underutilized doing the job.

Introduction 00:30
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:54
Hey, welcome back to the Happen To Your Career podcast. I am beyond excited to be here. I know I say that all the time. But I'm especially excited for this episode. It's... quite honestly, one I've been waiting for. I think that's fair to say. I've been waiting for it for a little while ever since I met our guest today. I have had in the back of my mind that I want her on the Happen To Your Career podcast. So without further ado, welcome Audrey to Happen To Your Career. How are you feeling?

Audrey Romagnuolo 01:29
Hey, Scott, I'm feeling great.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:31
Good. Because this is going to be fun. I don't even know all the details yet. But you and I worked together, you found us. I don't even actually know if I remember the story of how you found us. And we'll get into all that. But I got the pleasure of being able to tag along for the ride as you were making your career change. And you allowed us the honor of being able to help out with that. And you've done some rather amazing things I would say. So I'm super excited to dig into all of that. We're going to get to all the things in due time here. Tell people what you do now and you're just getting ready to start your new role here.

Audrey Romagnuolo 02:14
Sure, so I am a benefits coordinator for a law firm in Boston.

Mike Bigelow 02:24
I'm an engineer who was living in Portland, Oregon, and was moving up to Seattle, Washington to support my wife's career change.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:30
This is Michael, he's made career changes before but this one was different.

Mike Bigelow 02:34
A lot of the folks I talked to using sort of my normal candles were often saying, "Hey, we'd love to have somebody like you on the team. Unfortunately, we just let three or four people just like you go because there's not enough work to go around anymore."

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:47
Listen to Michael's story later in the episode to learn how we use coaching to help them figure out what fits him and make the change to work he loves.

Mike Bigelow 02:54
You have somebody in your corner who's looking out for your best interest, they're pushing you to be the best version of yourself and to stretch and grow yourself consistently towards that best self.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:06
You have not always worked as a benefits coordinator though, and you have not always worked in HR, necessarily in any capacity. You've done a lot of different things over your career. And I want to go way back here a bit and dive into how you got to the point where you saw the need to change in the first place. So where did, first of all, where did your professional career begin? Let's give people a little bit of color here.

Audrey Romagnuolo 03:38
So I would say where it becomes relevant. I had, you know, a lot of experience in sales roles and marketing positions. I got a job in New York, which is kind of like a, just the mark on the to-do list that I had to do for no more reason than the fact that that's what my mom did. And that's what people from New Jersey did. I got this job in New York marketing in a timeshare industry and hated it. It was boring. The work wasn't very engaging. And although I got to interact with traveling people and a transient guests all the time, I kind of felt stupid and underutilized doing the job, then went back into the beauty and wellness industry where I had kind of began working straight out of college and thought, "I missed the serenity in the aroma therapy of that environment." So jumped back in and I was an entry level, guest service manager, moved, got promoted after hosting a huge event became an events manager. And then we lost three out of five people on our management team and I was afforded the opportunity to dive into payroll and employee relations and some investigations and a lot of benefits and open enrollment and just all of that world of mess, and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with it because I was able to deal with things that mattered most to the employees. And so it was really difficult once those roles were then filled again, to let go of the tasks that now we're so much more fulfilling than, you know, event budgets and catering management and things of that nature.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:32
So, from working with you a bit, I know that there were elements that you just... were absolutely enamored with, and had a ton of fun with. But overall, eventually something changed. At some point, you stopped having as much fun. So how did that happen? What took place there? What were some of the timeline events?

Audrey Romagnuolo 05:56
You know, in hindsight, I think that this is probably a very common coming of age for a lot of professionals, where as a young person involved in any industry, you feel like, I need to take on as many new things and as many learning opportunities as possible, so that I can then apply those skills later. And kind of, you know, you're adding tools to your tool belt, for lack of better terms. And you finally get to a point where, taking on all that extra stuff, it's wonderful, but you're not getting paid any more for having volunteered yourself into your grave, and you start to feel a little bit undervalued. And it's hard to develop the courage to have those conversations with your superiors, especially when you taking on those kinds of projects. You're torn because you enjoy them. And at the same time, it's now an expectation. And if you're an overachiever, like I imagine many of your clients are, saying 'no' is really difficult, almost as difficult as saying, "Hey, I've increased my value since I started here. And I need that to be reflected."

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:09
Yeah. And I know you had some of those challenging conversations too, along the way. And some of them were particularly hard for you. And but I'm curious, what caused you to be able to get to the point where you were struggling with, even thinking about those conversations and thinking that they could be a reality, and then beginning to have some of those types of conversations, what changed during that period of time?

Audrey Romagnuolo 07:39
So I think that there were so many elements, I think one of the strongest ones was burnout. I was pushing, I was averaging 70 to 80 hour work weeks. I was, I think the breaking point for me was being offered a promotion, and not being offered a raise to go with it. It was essentially like, "Hey, you've been so awesome with this portion of your job, we'd love for you to do it for this new department we've just acquired" but, they showed me the salary, and it was pretty much exactly what I was making. And it was just like, "Okay, this is not working." On top of that, after declining the offer, which I think was one of the harder conversations.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:28

Audrey Romagnuolo 08:28
I'm still being asked to assist with the project and not being compensated for it, which I said 'yes' to, because I was like, I've had enough of awkward conversations. I don't want any more awkward conversations. At this point, I had already known that I'd be relocating. And I was fortunate enough to have this awesome coach who was like, "Hey, take advantage of learning these new systems. And we'll work on getting you out of there." And that's kind of what we did.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:58
Yeah. And I remember a lot of those conversations that you and I had about that exact thing, because at some point along the way, even before you brought us on board to be able to help out. Then you had made the decision you were going to leave. Right? What was kind of the sticking point for you there where you had... what was the final straw, if you will? Because there were certainly some fun elements and some things that you'd really did enjoy. Do you remember what the last straw was before you said, "Look, I gotta get some help here. I made the decision to go."

Audrey Romagnuolo 09:41
Well, actually, I had worked with another counselor on three appointments prior to contacting HTYC. And, she was in the city and she was a huge advocate of the Myers Briggs Assessment, which assessments are a wonderful tool. But I think there are people of a certain mindset who are susceptible to using them, as opposed to deep sea diving into their own desires and wants. And so you're kind of allowing yourself to be placed into a box as opposed to making your own decisions. It felt very box like, and I think it was my third session with this counselor where I questioned that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:26
And I can't imagine you questioning anything after getting to know you, certainly not.

Audrey Romagnuolo 10:33
But I questioned that. And she was almost defensive. And I was like, "Wait, this is... I'm paying for this service to help me get clear. This is the Audrey show. This is not, I love Myers Briggs," you know, so I just stopped going. And then I found HTYC. I heard you speaking on somebody else's podcast. And I reached out. And none of that answered your question. So to say what my breaking point was, I was also in a relationship, a long distance relationship. And it had been a long time dealing with a long distance commute. And I was just the type of woman who was unwilling to move for love. And then finally, the conversation, another uncomfortable conversation.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:29
I'm noticing a pattern here.

Audrey Romagnuolo 11:30
Was having someone who meant so much to me, he asked me, "Why are you choosing something that makes you so unhappy over something that we could create together? That would make us both really happy?" And I didn't have an answer for that. And so I said, "Look, I'm not comfortable moving without a job. I'm gonna work with this guy, Scott, he's awesome. And he looks like you a little bit. I think it's gonna be great." And that's what we did. And then ultimately, I wound up moving anyway.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:00
Yeah. The twists and turns that happened in there. And I totally want to come back to that too. You did end up moving anyways. But it wasn't a small road to be able to get to that point. And that's super interesting that you were on this track, where you were running this as fast as you possibly can. And because you were running down that track, and because it was what was going on in your life, it was almost accidentally forcing you to say no to some other things that were really, really important. Like considering the move in that way.

Audrey Romagnuolo 12:42
Yep, absolutely. I think that was the hardest thing to come to terms with was finally coming to the decision to move without something lined up in advance. But if you know, and for anybody who's contemplating a move, if you have the means to do it, just go, I can't stress that enough, like it is the most rewarding risk you will take, you will be happier in your job search, you will enjoy the process more, and you will be able to commit to it with so much more confidence.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:19
That's super interesting. I've been, not to take us too far off track here, but I've been reading literally every single book that I can find that has a good set of research behind what makes us happy as humans. And so I'm like, I don't know, 10 or 15 books into this. And one of the things that is overwhelming within the research is that, when we make decisions, and then when we take actions on those decisions, we rarely as human beings regret it afterwards. But if we don't take that action, like in this case, it could have been, you know, choosing to never make that move or choosing to wait until you have the job or something else along those lines. You know, that's the situation where it causes regret in the end versus the other way around, versus if I'm actually taking that action. It's absurd because our brains tell us the opposite thing, actually. The other way around is much more intuitive to us. So you took this, clearly, you don't regret it. Clearly it turned out for the best, but I'm curious why you advise people to do that. Push this research aside and say like, what was your personal experience? Because you were going through a lot of questioning about whether or not that was the right decision for you.

Audrey Romagnuolo 14:48
Right. So if I may throw myself under the bus, you know, until HTYC, I never once considered lifestyle in terms of selecting a career path or a job.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:02
What do you mean by that?

Audrey Romagnuolo 15:06
How much free time I had in a day was not something that I included in my search, you know, the breakdown in that eight day course it makes you look at, you know, your health and wellness, your relationships, if you, you know, if you have spiritual elements that you wanted to include in your lifestyle, none of those things ever even came into my awareness as things to consider when looking for a job, which, you know, you learn in time is utterly ridiculous, because the truth is, your job is not what matters most. Generally speaking, it's everything else that matters more, the job is just a means to support you living the life that you'll enjoy. And, you know, share with the people that you love. So that was a huge mindset twist for me, was, I'm looking for a much bigger picture than just a vocation that I'm going to do during the week.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:06
Interesting. So then, how did that impact later then that decision? Because it wasn't just one, from what I recall, it wasn't just one and done type conversation, it was back and forth. And you made a go of it, trying to find a new job while you were at this job, your previous job, right?

Audrey Romagnuolo 16:33
Yes, I did. So during my search, and you know, doing all the cold calling, which, if you hate cold calling, don't judge yourself, just don't think about it, just get it done. But it was really hard to manage those things. While, you know, working so much and working these crazy hours and then commuting from state to state. You know, I was crying on the bus ride to work, and then sometimes crying on the way home and, at that point, my most fulfilling days were the days where I completed a task. And rarely was it something that I was doing on my own behalf. So the imbalance just became more and more obvious as time went on. And I was having some really hopeful conversations, and I was, you know, I would get really excited about... I had this conversation with this company, and then, you know, I remember speaking with one company for a span of three months, and everything was positive, positive, positive, positive, and then all of a sudden, they were like, "Oh, sorry, we closed the position, because we acquired another office, and they have two people who can do the job." It was like, just such a huge slap in the face. And I was like, I hate those people. But I moved here and wound up getting an interview with the same company for another position. So, what I would say, why I would suggest just taking the risk sooner than later is, I spent, and this is not suggesting everybody's going to fall in the same timeline. But I spent six months in New Jersey, looking for work in Massachusetts. And then I moved to Massachusetts, and finally made the decision to take the risk and come here and meet the people and be able to go to interviews and see people and things like that. And it took me the same amount of time. So imagine if I would have came here six months earlier.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:41
Potentially could have saved some of those months.

Audrey Romagnuolo 18:44

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:46
So back in, if you want a good outline for whether or not it's a good idea to quit, and when it's okay to quit, go back to Episode 203 with Mike Goodman, our community success manager, who has also quit jobs along with myself too. And we give you a really good set, a really good set of questions and outlines to be able to decide whether or not it is right for you, because it's not necessarily right for everybody. But if I remember, Audrey, we talked extensively about whether or not that would be a good decision in your case, and from what I remember, please correct me if I'm wrong, you had done a really good job saving some money. So you had given yourself some runway, and that's one of the things that put you in a good position to be able to make that possible. And then also you have done a good job eliminating, you didn't have really, really, really significant amounts of debt or living expenses or anything along those lines. So that made it possible too. And ultimately for the type person you are, I think the other thing that seemed to be really good for you is not having all of this stuff that was bringing you down and draining you that was deterring your focus from being able to make the transition. How did you feel about that after, well, I guess before and after that decision?

Audrey Romagnuolo 20:16
Actually I remember the day that I made the decision to move and it was during one of our Tuesday sessions, and I just remember kind of being like, "I can't do this anymore." like, I need to move. And I just remember divulging like, Scott, this is how much money I have in the bank. Like, this is what I've got to work with, I need to buy a car. I'm gonna anticipate and we actually just wrote a budget and just doing that math, I think you were like, "You have 13 months, like you're losing money, staying where you are." And that was it. That was all I needed was just to budget myself and realize this is totally real. And then, you know, I think that very afternoon, one of my friends reached out to me and was like, "I just quit my job, I'm going to tour across the US for three months." And I'm like, if this girl can quit her job and take a road trip, I can quit my job and look for a job. And that was that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:24
So that was a really big mindset switch, then. So tell HTYCers a little bit more about the losing money in state because I think that was a big mindset switch for you.

Audrey Romagnuolo 21:37
Yeah, so I'm a saver, I like putting money away in the bank, it feels good to look at that number increase. And one of the things I was really afraid of, one, I just didn't want to move here and be dependent on anybody. That was something that I just wasn't willing to do. So I wanted to make sure when I moved in, that I was contributing 50/50 on everything. And the thing is, I'm a crazy person. So my, you know, my partner would have been happy to support me, he would have, you know, relish in the opportunity, but I'm a psychopath. So I'm not having it. I am woman, I need to, you know, be 50/50 on everything. So that was one thing. The other piece was, I was scared of how I would feel watching my bank account just dwindle every month, as I paid my bills. I wound up finding a really awesome deal on a used car. And soon as I got the car, it was in my driveway every day, and I was just like, yep, I'm gonna quit. I'm gonna quit now, because I just wanted to pack my car and leave.

Rebecca Maddox 22:56
There was something missing in my career that I have some skills I want to sharpen, that I wanted a different connection to the work that I was doing. And I was feeling very stuck in my search.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:09
Remember Rebecca from earlier? Well, not only did you feel stuck in her career, but she had some personal struggles, too.

Rebecca Maddox 23:16
I was dealing with a long term relationship and trying to bridge the gap there. But also, I felt like I needed to be in a different setting to really hone my skills in a certain way to get experience and to have a different interaction with my work.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:30
When she signed up for coaching with HTYC she gained accountability and direction.

Rebecca Maddox 23:35
Getting the support, getting helping to focus on your goals, and what are some tangible results you can pull out of your goals is helpful. I think preparing in practicing to walk into an interview and having someone there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:48
It help her to get clarity and take action on the career change.

Rebecca Maddox 23:53
And better clarity on what maybe what your weaknesses and strengths are, that are going into your interview so that you're holistically prepared. And to help you see the moving pieces in your search.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:07
Hey! Congratulations, Rebecca, on figuring out what you really wanted and making the change to it. If you also want to figure out what work fits you and make it happen, well, guess what? We can absolutely help. All you have to do is go to happentoyourcareer.com and click on Coaching to be able to apply. Send in your application right now. Or here's the other thing you can do, you just press pause and text MYCOACH, that's MYCOACH to 44222. Pause right now and we'll send over the application right to your phone.

Rebecca Maddox 24:40
Having someone there to could hear what you're saying but then also can see what's in between the lines to pull that out and to get your job search a boost is invaluable.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:53
If I remember, one of the exercises that we did is we went through and step by step figured out, okay, so here's how much you're earning at your current job, which at that time, we felt that you were significantly underpaid for your experience level and what you could bring to the table and essentially the rest of the market. So we said, "Okay, look, we came up with that, you will probably be making around 20-ish thousand dollars moreso if you're changing to a new company, new job, etc, etc. So what is the payback? Or what is the time period in which you can go, one, without running out of savings, and we figured out, hey, it's well over a year. But then the second thing that we figured out, too, is look for every single month that you're staying in here, you are actually losing that new potential salary. By staying in role. Versus, if in we wrote it out on digital paper, I think it was at the time might have been real paper, and we figured out, hey, that, look, if it takes you six months to be able to get a new role, then actually, that's a really good payback, cuz you're gonna make that up in X number of months too and I don't think most people are looking at it in that particular way too. And if I recall, what you said is now that you've made that change too, I think you got what, like a $20,000 increase or something, right?

Audrey Romagnuolo 26:30
Yes it is.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:32
Weird. Yeah, good for you. That's awesome.

Audrey Romagnuolo 26:35
And I did it in six months. So...

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:37
Well, look at that.

Audrey Romagnuolo 26:39
Yeah, we basically forecasted it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:43
It's almost like we've done this before.

Audrey Romagnuolo 26:45

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:46
Yeah. So what do you think the hardest part was? For you in particular, both throughout the, well, let's start with the entire journey.

Audrey Romagnuolo 27:00
I think just coming to the point where I was ready to make the decision, making the decision was actually relatively easy. And I think putting, you know, putting the numbers down on paper actually really helped with that. But making the decision to transition out of the wellness industry, with the understanding that I could continue growing on this ladder, and probably do so pretty rapidly. But I had no interest in it whatsoever. And so making the decision to say, "Hey, I'm gonna go entry level, in a totally different direction." I think, part of the, you know, a lot of the rewiring that was required, I had to in terms of a resume, which I know, resumes aren't so huge, but I'm taking things out of the context of your current role, and putting them in transferable context is way more valuable, especially if you're doing applications online. Nobody cares about the specifics. And so you're the only person who knows the context of what you were doing where you were, if you're not taking the effort to translate that to the industry you want to be in, you're not doing yourself any favors. So that was one thing, because I found myself removing accomplishments on my resume that weren't relevant. And you feel like, oh, but that was awesome. Like, I kicked butt on that or that was great. But it doesn't matter if it's not relevant. So get it off. Another part of the rewiring that was like, really interesting. I had a super huge, I was so embarrassed to say to an interviewer, you know, when they would say, "Why'd you move to Massachusetts?" Like to say, "Well, I moved for love" I was so embarrassed. And I wound up doing it on a phone interview with someone who was interviewing me for something I really didn't care about. And I had other conversations going on. And I just figured let me experiment and just say it, and she was like, "Oh, my God, me too. Blah, blah, blah, blah." And I was like, it's a story. So I started saying it more and more, and I will, I can guarantee that every conversation I've had since both on the phone and in person, in groups, somebody could relate to that story.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:32
Because it's human, right?

Audrey Romagnuolo 29:34
Because it's human. Yep.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:36
If I remember you were, we had many conversations about that specific thing and even other details too, where you were afraid or unsure or very uncomfortable with sharing those pieces of you essentially, which was authentically you. And I would say you are, by far, one of the most authentic people that I know in general, but for, no, very, very true, and I've told you that several times, but it was hard, it was hard one, it was put into the context of, "Hey, I'm going to go and I'm going to change my world. And I'm going to talk to all these new people. And I want it to translate into something that's going to be really good for my career. And what should I share? What shouldn't I share?" So that's so interesting, then that you found that when you were sharing more of yourself, you got a better response from that.

Audrey Romagnuolo 30:34
Yes. Huge insight there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:40
Were there any other areas where you became more comfortable sharing more of yourself in the job search, or interview, or other part of the process?

Audrey Romagnuolo 30:51
Yeah, so it took a long time to get to this point. And it took a lot of conversations, to finally realize that if I didn't like something about a role, like when you get further along in an interview process, and what I've noticed, most of the conversations I've had have been with teams. So it hasn't been just the standard one interview, and then a callback. It's been six people, one day in two hours, or like, whatever. And somebody always winds up asking you, you know, "Is there anything about the job that you're concerned about? Is there anything about the description that you're not interested in?" Like, answer those questions, honestly, I literally had a woman at a company in Boston bring me in, and say, "I brought you in today, because I liked you so much during our phone call, but I really don't think you're gonna like this job. And I just need to know that you're jazzed about it." And she was like, "I want you to go home and really think about this." I'm thinking to myself, well, one, I've never been called to an interview for someone to be like, I don't think you're gonna like this at all.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:59
On the interview.

Audrey Romagnuolo 32:00
Maybe she's, you know, you never know what somebody on the other end of the phone intends for you. So who knows, that person could have you in mind for a totally different role. And if you're not being receptive to the opportunities that are coming in front of you, you could miss out on quite a bit. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if you feel under qualified, even if you feel like you're not a right fit, because you may sit down. And they might say, "We really... I know you applied for this, but what do you think about this?" and it could be something you totally love.

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:34
That is amazing advice right there. And totally counterintuitive, but we've seen that with literally hundreds of people that we've worked with, where when you just as you described will go into an interview, and be frank with them about, "Hey, I'm absolutely loving these parts. Here's the parts I am less excited about" especially as you get further along into the interview where you've already built a relationship. If you walk in, you know, like, hey, this, you know, your job sucks, that's totally, like, don't do that, that's not gonna be helpful to anybody. But as you get further along into that interview, and you're completely transparent with them, then that, more often than not, we've seen has created other opportunities, because so few people out there are willing to be transparent in the way that you were. And I think people connect with that.

Audrey Romagnuolo 33:26
I would also say like, if I can just, you know, bullet this one thing, the more interviews that you do that are outside of what you want, the more exposure you get to other avenues where your skills may be applicable. So I interviewed for, like, an implementation specialist role. In my role in New York, I was doing a lot of training of a lot of older generations on how to use certain tech platforms. And I wound up applying for a position that was called onboarding specialist and in my mind, I was anticipating this to be more of a human resources onboarding function. But when I had the phone interview, they were like, you know, this is more implementation. So you'll be teaching people how to use this tech of one I was like, "Whoa, I never thought in a million years I get an interview with a tech company. This is so cool." I wound up applying for like two other positions like that with different tech companies. So it's just you know, just being a little bit more receptive. I think something I really struggled with during the process was I had such a defined limited view of what my ideal was. And so I wasn't seeing the other, kind of, avenues and opportunities that were out there. And so I was missing the mark a little bit. Like, I picked this one company and I was like, that's the dream company where I wanna be.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:00
That's the goal standard, yeah.

Audrey Romagnuolo 35:03
And I wouldn't, like, see anything else. So the hardest part was sometimes just finding companies I was actually interested in based on this crazy standard that I just put on the blackboard, you know? So yeah, just being open. And, you know, by the time I moved here, I feel like working with you gave me more confidence to you know, I was volunteering for events, I was working with the Chamber of Commerce, I was giving my resume to all my friends like, just utterly and shamelessly sharing my story and I can't tell you just how many tips and little tricks and leads I got just by making fun of myself.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:46
In what way? Now I'm super curious. What's an example of that?

Audrey Romagnuolo 35:51
Oh, my God. I don't know. I'm like when we went to... I volunteered for this event called chowderfest, which is basically just like a really fun contest where a bunch of, so I'm in the New England area chowder is, like, a big deal. But I would make fun of, like, I would start talking in my New York accent and, like, really embellishing it, and I was making the judges laugh so hard. And then it's like, "Oh, my God, she was great." Like, "We know this person." "Who's that?" Like, you just... I was at the Chamber of Commerce. And those events, it's kind of like a lot of people getting together to exchange leads. And here I am this girl with no leads just looking for like, connection. And, you know, yeah, it's a blow to the pride, you feel stupid. It's okay to feel stupid, going to networking events with nothing to offer anybody is hard. It's uncomfortable. Do it anyway, because that's when you meet people who are also from New York. And they say, you know, I know somebody at this company, or I know somebody at this company, or my friends, a headhunter, and this happened over and over again. And I'm still in touch with these people. So you know, it just... it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:11
That is super cool. So what finally happened then to; One, I know that you had set some standards for yourself, you weren't going to take just anything out there. And as he went through these interview processes, you were looking at a completely differently than the average person, you're really trying to figure out, "Hey, is this role a fit?" And... but what finally happened at that role and company that you accepted, where you said, "Hey, this could be a good thing." How did that happen?

Audrey Romagnuolo 37:47
So I had quite a few conversations where I'll say, and maybe you can help me out here with the right verbiage, but I had, like three different companies that I interviewed with a very young sprightly type of culture with, you know, like, ping pong tables, or, yeah, like that Google inspired office space. And, I think, for whatever reason, in my head, I just thought that that's where someone like me should be pursuing work. But the truth of it is, if I were ever not knowing myself, if I were ever in a position where I had a question about a task that I needed to complete, and I had to wait for somebody to finish a ping pong game, I would lose my mind. It wasn't until walking into the office at this law firm. And, you know, the formal, respectful kind of curt way of communicating that is very straightforward. And just clear and concise. You know, that is way more my kind of style, as opposed to like, I'm not getting anything done in an office with a dog. Like, that's just, this is... you learn yourself, but none of that really made sense to me, until I went to this interview in a more formal environment and actually felt relieved that there was no googly type stuff going on. So I think a part of me felt like because I was young, that should be what I wanted.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:25
That's so interesting, even how you're talking about it in terms of "Hey, because I'm in this category, then this should be" I think, anytime you find yourself inserting the 'this should be' or this is what you know, is some other people's definition or version of what good looks like, then that's more than likely the wrong place for you, whatever it is, and yeah, I know many people that that do enjoy that environment, but that's not for everybody. I wouldn't get anything done in that. Like if you... I know, we can't see, and everything like that. But in the back of me, I've got nothing here. There's, like, floor space and a workspace. And that's it. Because I have ADD, and I get way distracted unless I can focus on the thing at hand. So ping pong. Yeah. But I know many people that just absolutely love that environment. So you learned that that clearly wasn't for you by paying attention to what felt right. And I think kudos to you, because so many people ignore that in the first place.

Audrey Romagnuolo 40:29
Well, the other thing, I mean, I caught myself being disingenuous in interviews, where, you know, somebody would say to me, and the thing is, you know, I am, one of my signature strengths would be adaptability, so I can make pretty much anything work. But in terms of how I like to operate, there were, you know, several conversations where someone would say to me, you know, "How do you feel in the realm of ambiguity?" And I mean, you've had enough conversations with me to know that I am very clear, there's no guesswork with what I'm saying. And I prefer that kind of environment. But I would tell people, you know, that's nothing strange to me. I'm totally accustomed to it, which was true. But that's not what I wanted. So then I would leave, and I would be like, Oh, I hope they, you know, call me back. And then I would think about it a little more and be like, Oh, my God, I'm going to get sick of that in like two months if I go through with this, you know.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:29
That's so interesting, because that is polar opposite of what you described in some of the other later interviews and later interactions, where you were saying, "Yeah, all these areas really fit really well. But there's this one area I'm less sure of, and here's what I'm really looking for." And that is, one, it takes courage to be able to put yourself out there in that way. So that's awesome that you did that. And what most people will not do throughout their entire lives. And instead of the way that we think that we have to interview, which is what you just described just a moment ago, where it's like, yeah, I'm totally comfortable with the ambiguity. Which is true, but not what you actually want. So asking for, for what you want is what I'm taking away from that. Like, when you ask for what you want, you're more, strangely, more likely to get what you want versus let somebody else.

Audrey Romagnuolo 42:23
And just also, you know, adversely being willing to say, "No, that's not something I enjoy. No, that's not something I'm interested in." Because I think ambiguity has become the new hot word. And a lot of companies and, especially, this is just my assessment based on my interviews. I have no backing for this whatsoever, except my opinion. But ambiguity is like a word that I've seen used quite frequently. And to me, that's just like a red flag of, "Wait. So do you know what you're doing? Like..."

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:56
Do you not have your...

Audrey Romagnuolo 42:58
So. I like things. I love flexibility. And I love innovation. But in terms of working, I like to know what it is I'm supposed to produce, who I'm working with on that project, how are we going to get there? Because I'm a point B person, once I know what point B is, I don't care about point A, I don't care about the past. I don't care about anything in my peripheral. I just want to get to be.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:23
Yeah. So what advice would you give for people that are back, you know, six, eight months ago, where you were at the time, and in the role that they're not excited about, know that they want to make a change, and they're just on the cusp of wanting to move forward and find themselves and be able to do work that allows them to be much more of themselves?

Audrey Romagnuolo 43:53
I think we kind of all start at the same place, which is I don't like this. I don't want this, you know, it's not like, "Oh, I've been dreaming about this, like you're not getting there by being really happy where you are. So I think a lot of us start in the, "I don't like this place." And I think what HTYC really helps to do is... and it forces you to ask yourself questions that didn't occur to you to ask. And you're working with professionals who have not only been in your shoes, but are really good at helping other people get out of this place. So just intuitively, they know more than you do about this process, especially if it's your first go around. And why not tap into that insight? I think that what kind of made that really clear to me from the very beginning was the eight day program, the email program.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:48
Yeah, we still have around. We've had about 15,000 people through that over at figureitout.co.

Audrey Romagnuolo 44:54
Okay, so that was like more content than I have seen offered anywhere else. And it was just so easy. And it was... but it was so much value added that, like, it was crazy. And that's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what's available.

Scott Anthony Barlow 45:18
Well, that is super kind of you to say, and it makes me happy that we get to chat after you've come full circle on this journey. And I'm so excited for you to get into your next role and have fun. And I'm so proud of you for paying attention and putting what you thought that you should be doing or what you thought you had to be doing in any given moment. And putting that aside, because it's not an easy thing to do. And then to start paying attention to yourself, which you are... I cannot wait to talk again, and another year. Just how much progress that you have made just in that one area alone. I'm just... I am just ecstatic for you. And super, super happy. So congratulations again, by the way.

Audrey Romagnuolo 46:07
Thank you, thank you so much for everything and the whole team too.

Scott Anthony Barlow 46:12
Hey, thanks so much for listening to the Happen To Your Career podcast. I really, really appreciate it. And I appreciate you. And guess what? We've got plenty more coming up next week, right here on Happen To Your Career. So take a listen to what we've got in store for you. Next week on the Happen To Your Career podcast

Dan Pink 46:32
What prompts me to go through is probably just a sense of bad reasoning saying, "oh my god, I've already sunk this much time into it. I might as well finish" or probably at another level, "wow, I really looked like an idiot if I started and didn't finish."

Scott Anthony Barlow 46:50
All that plenty more. See y'all next week. Adios. I'm out.

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