I have a new favorite person. I’ve had a number of new favorite persons in the nearly 14 years of writing this column, but I’m stingy when I hand them out, and you’ve got to do something pretty special to earn an Amdur NFP designation. That’s what Alexandra did — three times, in fact.
She and I first met about 14 months ago. She had earned a B.A. in psychology a couple of years earlier and continued on to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. But then, more than half way through, she decided it was absolutely not for her.
During this time she held random low-level jobs unrelated to anything remotely resembling a career, but she took whatever she could get. Gotta pay the bills and the college loans, you know. I’m sure many of us have been there sometime in our careers, right?
So now what? Alexandra had sailed from shore but was suddenly adrift with no direction and no destination. That’s when we met.
Our first meeting was memorable and notable, as we uncovered two things. One, she never really wanted to be a counselor to begin with; she more deeply wanted to be in a supportive, nurturing profession that just wasn’t counseling.
Two, she happened to have had — in the not-too-distant past — a short-lived but interesting human resources assistant position which, as our ongoing discussion revealed, she liked. A deep dive into it led Alexandra to an epiphany and a good decision: HR was her calling.
That did it. With a sharp new focus, not to mention rekindled passion, Alexandra dived in and, in little time, landed a promising HR coordinator position with a decent (but not great) salary, an international company and a five-minute drive from home. All in all, a nice situation for her first good bounce-back when a change of plans was necessary. Not bad, eh?
But not all good things stay that way and not all promises are kept, as Alexandra can now confirm. The promising position became less promising, as her job duties were soon reduced to more of a clerical nature and then, lo and behold, the company started the process of being acquired.
There was no chance for growth anymore, so once again it was time for Alexandra to adjust her plans, and that led to another great decision. HR was where she was going to stay, come hell or high water. So here’s what happened in the past few months.
With growing experience in the field, she enrolled in a highly regarded human resources management certificate program that started a couple of weeks ago and is going nicely, thank you. She will soon have enough HR work experience plus the certificate to qualify to sit for the PHR exam which, I’m sure, she will pass.
More impressively, about three months ago, Alexandra — totally committed to this career path — launched one of the better job searches I’ve seen in a while: focused, determined, proactive and energetic. She also set standards for her next move, insisting she would not “take a step back” (as too many people do), determining to have broader responsibilities, get with a company that offers growth potential and the opportunity to make more money. A third good decision and it was followed by crisp execution.
Not everything went according to plan, as a couple of her target jobs didn’t work out, but that’s to be expected. Every road has bumps. In all, she had meaningful discussions with about a half dozen companies, three of which moved well into the interview process. Ultimately, one of them turned her down because they knew the job was too low-level for her, and she withdrew from another one for several self-directed reasons.
And the third company? Alexandra will be starting there tomorrow morning, with broader and higher-level responsibilities, a clear path upward in a cool company and a 30 percent bump in salary (yes, 30 percent!).
She was more than thrilled when the offer letter came in at the top of their range, eliminating any need to negotiate. They clearly wanted her and it was mutual.
I think there are two lessons we can all learn from Alexandra. First, you’ve got to have a vision and sense of purpose to guide you. And second, it’s OK to alter your plans if you have to; it’s just not OK not to have plans.
In other words, if you know where you’re going, set your plans to get there,= and adjust your plans when necessary, you’re a pretty good bet.
You might even be the next Amdur NFP.
Career coach and corporate adviser Eli Amdur has been authoring his weekly Career Coach column since 2003 and is the author of his acclaimed career advice book “It’s Not So Far From Here to There: The thinking person’s guide to well-managed career.” Adjunct professor of two graduate-level leadership courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, he is also active on the speaker circuit, delivering presentations on today’s critical employment and leadership issues. Visit his website at www.amdurcoaching.com.