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Phone: (781) 861-9949
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From the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, 3/6/11

New FAQs about job hunting
Can Facebook and LinkedIn really help me? Absolutely, says Gail Liebhaber, principal of Career Directions in Lexington. Of the two, LinkedIn is the more crucial; it lets you brand yourself through how you describe your experience (it's also worth noting that headhunters tend to do a lot of their initial scouting on LinkedIn). You can also find networking contacts and employees at companies to which you're applying who may be willing to answer questions. As for Facebook, you should certainly fill out the business categories in your profile, but avoid posting photos from that epic game of beer pong. Job hunters, says Liebhaber, "should never put anything on [Facebook] that they wouldn't want on the front page of The Boston Globe."

Smart searching
Lessons from the front lines of a new job-hunting world

In November 2008, in the deep trough of the recession, Jordan Liebhaber accepted an entry-level position at Hertz Rent-a-Car, not because it was his career ambition – that was sports administration – but because he simply needed a job. It's a not uncommon fallback position in this economy: taking whatever work you can find out of necessity, not passion.

As a junior at the University of Miami, Liebhaber had landed a coveted internship with the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, part of his inspiration to pursue sports administration as his major. "It was something I felt I could do as a career," he says. Even as the economy was collapsing, an internship with the Red Sox operation in Fort Meyers the spring of Liebhaber's senior year further buoyed his aspirations. But after Liebhaber's internship ended and he graduated in August 2008, his career prospects dwindled. He found the job at Hertz and eventually started the process of regrouping.

But when it came to the question of how he would reinvent his career plans, Liebhaber was initially stumped. If sports administration wasn't the answer, what was? "It was not easy," he says. "I really had to sit down and do a lot of self-exploration."

Luckily for Liebhaber, his mom, Gail, knows a thing or two about helping people find jobs that are right for them – she's a veteran career guide in Lexington. In her practice, Gail Liebhaber regularly uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment that helps clients articulate qualities they can bring to a job. "It's a jumping-off point, not a silver bullet," she says, but her son gave it a try.

According to the results of the assessment, Jordan had strong people skills, which had drawn him to sports administration, but he also discovered a cheerful desire to serve others that he hadn't recognized before. Sales and marketing would be a good fit, but so would something in the health industries, which happened to be a growing field. He fondly recalled volunteering for a hospice in high school and wondered now whether he could make a paying career out of it.

And so began the intense research and relationship building, which Gail says is fundamental to any job search, whether you're forced to change fields or just looking to move to a job you enjoy more. Jordan built his network from scratch, starting with family friends who worked in health-related fields, particularly elder care. He made cold calls and scheduled informational interviews. He joined industry groups and mined LinkedIn.

The process took a lot of effort, putting in days at Hertz, then devoting nights, weekends, and vacation days to pursuing his new track. Gail concedes that finding a new path while working full time can be tiring, but she's always amazed at the stores of energy folks can muster for the hunt. "Once people are focused, things start to shift," she says. "The emotional drain of being in a job they don't like gets lifted."

Jordan's persistence led to crucial, short-term experience in sales and client services at retirement and nursing facilities. Those bulked up his resume and allowed him to test his own new and tentative career interests. After a few months, certain that elder care was his calling, he shifted from information gathering to an all-out job search. He responded to online listings, went to trade shows, scored job interviews, and tried to demonstrate deep knowledge about the industry and where he fit into it.

Finally, about a year and a half after Jordan began the process, Bayada Nurses, a home health care agency, hired him as a client services manager for its Newton location. His first day at his new job is tomorrow.


 

Article from BostonWorks.com, 10/17/2004
Good coach can awaken you to your dream job
By Etelka Lehoczky,
Globe Correspondent

Many people hope to break into another career. That's what Julie Pearson did - literally.

''My heel got caught in the hem of my pants and I took a header down a flight of stairs at work,'' the Everett resident says.

Pearson injured her leg and took time off from work to recuperate. Ultimately, the accident proved to be the catalyst she needed to leave her job in human resources.

''I was home for a week and it was a turning point,'' she says. ''It gives you the opportunity to sit down and think, 'What am I doing? Is this what I want till the day I retire?' ''

Pearson's next step - a more careful one this time - was to hire a career coach who helped her realize she wanted to pursue a career as a dental hygienist.

Not everyone gets an aha moment like Pearson's. But if you nurture vague thoughts of eventually pursuing your dream job, you shouldn't wait for a tumble down the stairs to get you headed in the right direction.

''The average person today has easily seven to 10 jobs over two or three unrelated careers,'' says Edward Colozzi, Ed.D., owner of Career Development and Counseling Services in Winchester, who Pearson hired. ''The average 27-year-old has [already had] a good seven to eight jobs.''

With so much uncertainty surrounding modern career planning, career coaching has become a booming business. A career coach typically commands around $1,500 for his or her services. With that kind of investment required, it's essential to be certain of both your own expectations and your coach's expertise before you put down any money.

That's what Waltham resident Brian Trott, 37, found when he began looking for a coach.

''I interviewed a lot of career coaches and found that a lot of them are not well skilled,'' he says.

''It's uncomfortable sitting in someone's second bedroom or [in] a makeshift office in their kitchen talking about where I want to be in my life.''

Trott was in a tough spot at the time. Leaving a position in supermarket management, he returned to school to get a bachelor's degree in international management. When he was done, he found himself unemployed and doubtful the career he'd planned would work for him after all.

''Initially I thought I wanted to work in the investment community, but I found it was largely about selling financial and insurance products to people whether or not they needed them,'' he says. ''I started interviewing with commodities [firms], and I found their ethics just as challenging, if not more so.''

Trott sought help from Colozzi, who helped him identify his strengths, pinpoint his main areas of interest, and clarify his goals. Today Trott is a property manager for real estate firm Archstone-Smith.

Career coaches emphasize two primary areas of service. They administer a battery of tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, to help you determine what occupation suits you best. Once you settle on a dream career, they provide resources such as industry guidebooks and recruiting contacts to help you make the transition.

If you don't have the money or inclination to work with a coach, it's certainly possible to find your way on your own. Gail Liebhaber, a career coach for 13 years and owner of Career Directions in Lexington, says a book like Richard Bolles's classic ''What Color is Your Parachute?'' may be all some people need.

''There are people who can use websites and books on their own. It just depends on the person,'' she says. ''I've met Richard Bolles a few times over the past 20 years, and I thank him every time. People can't get through his book by themselves, and that's why they come to see me.''

Liebhaber recommends an exercise she uses to help her clients get an objective view of their strengths and weaknesses.

''I ask them to ask five people from different parts of their life - work, family, and friends - for five different adjectives'' to describe them, she says. ''They come back to me with better self-esteem and a sense of how other people see them. We don't get feedback in the world [about] what our potential is.''

One resource Trott found valuable is a local group called ''Wednesday is Networking Day,'' or WIND. The group organizes gatherings of unemployed or transitioning professionals in Wilmington, Cambridge, Foxborough, and Westborough. WIND members help one another find opportunities, sharpen their job-search skills, and remain motivated. The meetings are facilitated by experienced career consultants and feature guest speakers who are experts in the field. For more information about WIND, visit www.windnetworking.net.

''It's a great place to go and say, 'Hey, I'm not the only one unemployed. I'm not the only one who's squeezing a dollar,' '' Trott says. ''It makes you not feel so depressed.''

Herminia Ibarra, author of ''Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career'' (Harvard Business School Press, $12.95) recommends this sort of networking as an alternative to the personality assessments and soul-searching many coaches specialize in. In her research, she found that people spend too much time planning and not enough time exploring their options in the real world.

''People often think they have to be 100 percent sure about the right career for them before they actually start doing something,'' she says.

Instead, Ibarra says, you should take an experimental approach to career planning.

''Try out new activities in small steps, noncommittally,'' she says. ''For example, work on a project on the side, freelance, or go back to school. It's very important, too, that [people] open up their networks and start talking to people outside their company or line of work.''

Her advice is in line with that of Michael Watkins, author of ''The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels'' (Harvard Business School Press, $24.95). Even if you don't know what you really want to do, he says, you should always be working to improve your transition skills.

''The ability to transition into new leadership roles is a competitive advantage,'' he says. ''The more effective you are at it, the better you're going to do.''

Prospecting for a new career is both financially and emotionally draining. Even if - or especially if - you don't hire a coach, plan to commit a lot of time and energy to your move. But if you plan carefully, then once you make the jump you'll find it was worth it.

As for Pearson, she found Colozzi's tests very helpful, but for an unusual reason. They gave her a sense of confidence about her long-deferred desire to work in the dental field.

''It was always in the back of my mind, but when I met with Ed, I felt like, 'If I'm going to pay a career counselor to find out what I should be doing, I'm certainly not going to tip my hand and tell him what I want,' '' she recalls. ''When I finished the process, he said usually when [he runs] everything through the computer there are six to eight jobs that come out. In my case it was one: dental hygienist.''


"Get a life! New type of coach helps clients set goals, live their dreams."
Article from The Christian Science Monitor, 04/04/01
(Featuring Gail Liebhaber)


Article from Lexington Minuteman, 11/12/2000
Women compare notes on working, having families

BY JANE WHITEHEAD
CORRESPONDENT

"We really feel strongly that there is no such thing as a non-working mother," said Daphne Politis in her introduction to the second meeting of the Working Mothers' Alliance (WMA). This belief prompted Politis and cofounder Cathy Edelstein, both of Lexington, to launch WMA in May 1999, as a support network for women struggling with the hard choices and daily balancing-acts belied by media-inspired fantasies of "having it all."

"We really need this forum" Lexington-based career counselor Gail Liebhaber told the audience of over 40 women who gathered at the Ramada Inn, Bedford recently. Liebhaber invited everyone to "relax, eat, drink and listen to each other's stories." She told part of her own story to illustrate "the myth of the straight track," so remote from the career patterns of many mothers.

Over 25 years, said Liebhaber, she has worked full time, part time, started her own business, job-shared and taken time out to dance, to travel and take care of her two sons, now teenagers. So she can say with authority, "There is no one way of doing this." This is a climate in which creative solutions are possible, she said, challenging participants to make the most of the meeting by getting out of the "comfort zone" and going all out to get what they came for.

"How do you define success?" Liebhaber asked the group. The volume soared as everyone shared her thoughts with a partner. The mother of a two-and-half year old son prompted a ripple of sympathetic laughter when she said success was a happy, healthy child, "clean counters and no dirty dishes" at the end of the day. "Achieving your desired goals at that moment," suggested someone else, reminding everyone of the value of focusing on immediate sources of satisfaction.

The evening was structured to meet the needs of women at different points on the home-work spectrum. There were focus groups for women in transition from home to work, or work to home, or one life stage to the next; for women who are currently self-employed or who run
home-based businesses or are thinking of taking this route, and for people employed outside the home.

For the group of home-based businesswomen moderated by Politis, the key issues were organization, discipline and setting boundaries. Whatever the nature of their business - pharmaceutical sales, financial services, paralegal support, graphic design -they agreed on the need to -set explicit boundaries between "home" and "work" in terms of time, space and mind-set. The group brainstormed strategies for capitalizing on the benefits of working at home, such as flexibility, availability to children, and no commuting time, while combating loneliness, professional isolation and household distractions. "Don't fold laundry in the office," "dress for work" and build a buddy network with other women in - similar positions, were some firm suggestions.

Edelstein, who runs a home-based speech therapy consultancy, said a huge concern for her group of recently-launched home-based workers was the stress of being entirely responsible for self-marketing and generating work. Wanting to cut back on working hours and the strain of working in inflexible male dominated offices where family issues are "unmentionable" were the main preoccupations of MBA program recruiter and human resources consultant Julie Strong's group for women who currently work outside the home.

Liebhaber facilitated a discussion for "women in transition." Judging by the wide range of the group in terms of age, background and aspirations, "transition" is a recurring, inescapable theme in women's lives. The mother of two teenagers said she was "busier than ever now," spending hours car-pooling and wondering, "when my life is going to begin." A woman whose sons were about to leave home offered hope to the younger women that mid-life can mark a "return to the authentic self." Two pediatricians who had found it impossible to square the demands of their jobs with the needs of their young families were finding it "pretty scary" to think of looking for work outside their profession.

"Nurturing has been wonderful, but now I'm in a different stage," said Gail Mulani of Arlington, the mother of a three and a five-year-old boy. The message she took away from the evening was "It's my future. I have to take control." Claire Shawcross, a computer consultant from Bedford, who had felt that she was forging her own way in isolation, had found support from "people who are a little bit ahead of me."

Jane Deutsch of Lexington, Director of Flexible Resources; Inc., a consulting and staffing firm which specializes in nontraditional employment options, was inundated with resumes and queries. Deutsch tells women looking for flexible working arrangements to adopt "multiple approaches," including networking with former colleagues and informational interviewing. Be assertive, she says, tell employers how they can match your needs.

Liebhaber sees WMA as a resource for women at all stages of their mothering and working lives. As a source of support, energy, strategies, tips and techniques, she says such meetings are invaluable, because "this is how women learn - from each other."

 


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Gail Liebhaber, M.Ed., Career Directions
GWL Consulting - Career Consultant / Coach / Guide
40 Cottage Street, Lexington, MA 02420
Phone: (781) 861-9949
gail@yourcareerdirection.com

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