Dear Coach Joan,

I’ve been thinking about your profession and all the situations and experiences you’ve seen with people in their working lives.  I’m wondering if you’ve seen some odd or unpredictable, strange things that have happened to people in their careers.  Anything readers might find interesting and informative?

Thank you,

Curious in Cotati


Dear Curious in Cotati

I think that’s a great question and it’s funny timing, as I was just telling a prospective client that I really could not predict how long it would take for her to secure new employment. I could give a ballpark of under 6 months considering her skills, credentials, track record, years of employment and market need in her field. However, there are so many, many factors that go into someone’s success in the job seeking process.


But OK, you asked for strange, odd or unpredictable things that’ve occurred in careers.  Here are a couple I could not have anticipated:

  1. FIRED BEFORE STARTING THE JOB:  This happened to a director level sales professional. She was in her late 30s, in the prime of her career and had worked for several notable, large technology firms in Silicon Valley. She took the chance on a start up that went belly up and had an unemployment period. She hired me in the hopes of making her job search more efficient and effective as that’s what good coaching can do. We honed in her positioning and key strengths, made sure her resume and linkedIn were top notch and got her references set to go. We had her leverage her network of both professional and personal contacts in hopes of finding just the right position. FYI, over 70% of jobs are gotten via one’s network so do keep that network fresh and activated.  We also had her reach out to all her former managers and colleagues, as part of the ‘Friends and Family Outreach Letter’. And she played an active leadership role in her professional association. She had many interviews over a 5 months period but no offers. FYI, for a senior level position it is not unusual to take 6 – 12 months to find new employment.  Finally, at month 7 she had a HIT. One of her former bosses reached out and was in another start up that needed her sales leadership skills. At that level there is often an employment contract that both parties need to agree to and sign. This one addressed her base salary, commission structure, start date and scope of her responsibilities and the geographic region she was assigned to. She was to start in two weeks from the date of contract. All was signed and sealed. Or so she thought….. A week later she got a call from the prospective employer and was told that her position had been cancelled, that the company did not get the round of funding that were counting on. She called me immediately, understandably quite upset as she’d already let her network know where she was headed for her next job. She called off all interviews that were scheduled and was preparing to start her new job.   HOWEVER, I told her the episode was NOT OVER. She had a signed employment contract and they were reneging on it! I introduced her to an employment attorney who saw there was a good case. My client ended up getting a 1/3 of her first year’s projected income as compensation. Yes, she had to restart her job search once again but with the financial cushion from the lawsuit, she was more relaxed about it.  TAKEAWAY:  Don’t ever stop the job search until you have actually been on the job for a week or more!! Things happen, as they did in this case. And do not update your network, resume or LinkedIn profile until you have started the job!!                                
  2. CLIENT GOT THE JOB WITH NONE OF THE REQUIRED CREDENTIALS!!  OK, this is a GOOD NEWS STORY that really happened! This young man had dropped out of college and was basically ‘going nowhere’ when his parents decided it was time for TOUGH LOVE; time to get out of their house unless he could pay for rent and food. They had given him 6 months on the couch with a bedroom, food and laundry and they felt he was getting lazier by the day. His only job skills were retail sales but he did have a passion and love for high end, luxury and sports cars. And he knew a lot about them.  Well, he found out that one of the top brands was opening a dealership hear him. He decided he wanted to work there in sales. He called over and found out they wanted to hire only people who had college degrees and 2-3 years track record in selling high end automobiles. But he was undeterred.  He decided that was the job for him! He asked him parents to loan him money to get professional clothing; a suit and fine leather shoes. And he augmented his knowledge of that brand of cars and the competition. He also read up on professional sales and consultative sales. Once he felt ready, he went to the dealership and introduced himself. He was lucky to find the VP of the corporation that owned the group of dealerships in the office. He knew he looked professional, but knew he had to convince her he could do the job. They had a 5 minute talk in which she told him the requirement was a college degree and minimum of 2-3 years with a proven track record in selling high end cars. She explained that everyone in that dealership had those credentials. He left. But he came back everyday for the next 5 days, making conversation with the woman and letting her know he really did know ‘his stuff’ about these cars and the competition! On the 6th day, she gave in…She told him she had never seen a candidate with that degree of persistence, knowledge and perseverance and for the first time in her career, she was going to totally bend the rules and hire him, but on a probationary basis for one month…….One year later he became the #1 sales rep in the dealership, and now 5 years later, he’s had three promotions and has a significant career in the high end automotive sales field.    TAKEWAY: If you have a passion, GO FOR IT. Do all you can to prepare for success and conjure up your courage and confidence and try for a position you really want. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Notice that this young man acted on my adage:       READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS  

Yes, Curious in Cotati, I have seen strange, odd and unpredicable things happen as a career coach! And I want to remind you that you cannot depend on bad luck or good luck but you can work as hard as you can to make yourself find those opportune career moves that really fit your strengths and interests, hone in on what you want and then reach out to all influencers and connections to find that right opportunity. And keep at it. As we often hear:  THE HARDER I WORK, THE LUCKIER I GET!! Tis True!                                                                                                                                             HAPPY HOLIDAYS and onward in your career success in 2020, Coach Joan