National Sales Manager
President & CEO
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Director of Operations
Senior Compensation Consultant
Head of Quality Assurance
Manager - Health, Safety & Environment Business Unit
Director of Systems Quality Engineering
James Harris - Success Study
National Sales Manager
James Harris was a sales manager for a contract manufacturer of electronic solutions for the aerospace market.
When a change in senior management produced a shift in culture and vision, James grew disenchanted, but his efforts to find more satisfying employment elsewhere went nowhere.
James learned to use LinkedIn to better advantage, sharpen his executive presence, and tailor discussions to his audience.
James was offered a leadership position as national sales manager in a similar field, at a company with a more appealing culture, and with the potential for a much higher compensation.
James was a business development and sales manager of a small, family-run company that provides manufacturing services of mission-critical electronic solutions to the aerospace market. He led a team of six people in securing and closing multimillion-dollar contracts for U.S. commercial and defense contractors. He handled the entire lifecycle of manufacturing a product from cradle to grave to ensure it was quick, efficient, and satisfactory to the customer.
Three years into his tenure, changes in senior management prompted a shift in culture and vision at the company that didn’t sit well with James. His unhappiness spurred him to look for new employment over the next year. He began using job search sites and putting feelers out to his personal network of contacts.
“At first I was looking to change fields. I wanted to stay in sales, but I explored opportunities in the medical and software industries. I got a few interviews, but they weren’t satisfying and I wasn’t offered any jobs,” said James.
After nearly 10 months of job seeking, James became frustrated by the lack of traction he was getting and enlisted the help of The Barrett Group (TBG).
“I had revised my resume, tweaked my LinkedIn profile, and had impressive education and technical skills. I didn’t know what else I could do on my end to make the connections I wanted to make. So, I decided to get full service professional help,” said James.
James began his TBG experience by undergoing personality assessments in the Clarity program and learning what professional roles align best with his personality.
“I’ve gone through similar training previously, so much of the information I already knew. But it’s useful to be reminded of this kind of information every few years, and I also learned some new stuff,” said James.
In Phase 2 James began meeting weekly with his career consultant, Anne Lipsitz, who coached him on how to present himself in an optimal way to potential employers and how to emphasize his ability to fulfill their needs.
“It was useful to learn how to sell myself – especially my drive and my dedication. In the long run, competitiveness serves you better if you can harness it and utilize it as a professional asset,” said James.
James valued Anne’s help with learning to use LinkedIn better.
“Anne helped me not only with enhancing my LinkedIn profile, but also to navigate it in a way I didn’t previously know how to do,” he said.
She also helped him hone his “It” factor – the characteristics that makes someone really stand out as an executive.
“Anne had a career in sales, so she offered me a lot of advice on confidence, professionalism, and presentation. We discussed the importance of knowing who you’re speaking to – for example, if I’m talking to a CFO or a COO, I should keep in mind the different drivers or goals those individuals have with respect to their company,” said James. “From a career perspective, it definitely helped me a lot.”
Before long, James saw more responses to his efforts to build social capital, which translated into an increase in interview requests.
“I had become more visible in the market,” he said.
After three months working through the TBG program, James felt confident enough in his job search to resign from his job. He got some job offers, but turned them down as he waited for the right opportunity. Eventually, it came.
A recruiter for an electronic contract manufacturing company came across his profile on LinkedIn and reached out to him about a leadership position in the same field. After a number of Zoom calls with the owner and other key players of the company and a day touring their site, they offered James a job.
James feels that this position offers him more responsibility and more opportunity for growth.
“It checked most of my boxes and the time was right,” said James. “I like the direction the company is going. Also, the culture and the leadership of the company are very attractive. I’m very excited.”
Imran - Success Study
President & CEO
Imran was president and CEO of a software startup that used AI in the production of interactive video technology.
After recognizing that his company needed a leader with a different skillset than he offered, Imran left, but he sought help thinking through his next career move.
With his coach, Imran evaluated the work environments in which he is happiest and most successful, then he leveraged his social capital to find professional opportunities that best suited him.
Imran’s efforts produced two excellent offers, and he ultimately opted for the position as president of a small health-tech company that jibed better with his personal goals.
As president and CEO of a small tech startup, Imran worked at finding a market opportunity to commercialize the company’s innovative, interactive video technology. After nearly one year on the job, however, the company’s efforts struggled to gain market traction. Disappointed but realistic, Imran concluded that the business needed a different skillset than he offered and stepped down from his operations role.
When Imran left, he hadn’t yet formulated a new plan. His experience at the company made him introspective, and he wanted to reflect on why the company hadn’t performed as he’d hoped it would before he made his next move. He also wanted help figuring out how best to move forward.
“I had never tried to find a job on my own. Throughout my career, I was recruited out of my old job and stayed in my roles for a long time. I never built that job seeking muscle,” said Imran. “I needed help. I needed a sounding board – a coach to help me consider my next steps.”
That’s when Imran got in touch with The Barrett Group (TBG). He liked that what TBG offered, unlike recruiters he had worked with in the past, was a focus on him and his needs.
“A recruiter’s main interest is helping clients fill positions, not finding a good fit for me or getting me oriented in my career journey,” said Imran.
Although he was eager to get back to work, Imran valued the opportunity with the Clarity Program to pause and evaluate himself holistically – his strengths, his weaknesses, his family values, and in what types of companies and roles he is happiest and most successful.
“I saw the Clarity Program as an opportunity to hit the reset button,” said Imran.
Clarity reaffirmed for Imran several things: He enjoys the tech industry, he prefers the culture of small to midsize companies, and he loves the challenge of leading a team in a startup environment.
Imran also learned how to view his previous job as a learning experience and draw lessons on how he might have done things differently.
“Sometimes outcomes don’t pan out the way you want them to,” said Imran. “I learned not to measure myself by one failed experience because I came to realize that if I’ve never failed at something, maybe I haven’t been taking enough risks.”
When Imran began working with his career consultant, he really appreciated the program’s structure. First, he worked on his resume, revised his LinkedIn profile, then he built up his social capital by reconnecting with many old contacts in his network.
“I don’t really need an accountability partner, but I did like the accountability. I found that forcing myself to a schedule of weekly calls with Greg was helpful,” said Imran. “And the exercise of reaching out to people I hadn’t spoken to in six or seven years was really good. Very few of them resulted in a professional connection, but part of it is having lines in the water. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.”
Because Imran was targeting C-level roles, he faced unique limitations that other jobseekers don’t.
“At my level, there just aren’t as many opportunities out there, and people don’t advertise for CEO roles with a job ad,” said Imran.
When Covid hit a month after activating his job search, Imran enjoyed a stroke of luck. His social outreach efforts yielded an offer for a 6-month consulting gig at a large, public software company with the potential to go full-time after three months.
He liked the work and the people at the large firm, but when they offered him an attractive full-time position three months later, he wasn’t sure what to do. He and his career consultant, Greg, discussed it at length.
“I knew I should look for other opportunities to make sure I was making the right choice, so I reached back out to my network,” said Imran.
This time, Imran was recommended to a small tech company in the health field that was looking for a CEO. It was a long, but successful, interview process, and Imran soon found himself with a choice of two great opportunities.
But choosing was not an easy decision.
“Greg helped me prepare for the interviews for both jobs. And when I had to choose between these opportunities, he helped me think it through. He was a good sounding board,” said Imran.
Imran also reached out to his Clarity coach for her opinion.
“Hiyam Wakeem was great. She was so helpful to me at the outset, and when I called for her advice she was gracious and walked me through the pros and cons,” said Imran.
Ultimately, Imran opted for the larger role at the smaller company, knowing it was a better fit.
“I’ve never worked in healthcare before, so intellectually it’s been challenging,” said Imran. “From many standpoints it’s been great. I’m really enjoying it.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
André - Success Study
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
André was CFO and COO for a Washington DC-based trade association.
André’s position was eliminated after a major reorganization, but after 15 years in his position, his job seeking efforts were unsuccessful and he needed help.
André learned how to discern what employers are looking for, tailor each application, assertively follow up on every prospect, and say as much as – and no more than – was necessary.
After just two months working with The Barrett Group, André was quickly recruited as CFO and COO of a nonprofit organization with an “amazing” mission.
As chief financial officer and chief operating officer for a $15 million international nonprofit, André strategized and directed operations of the finance and administration departments. He concurrently served as the CFO and COO of an affiliate nonprofit in the last two years of his 15-year employment there. Due to a reorganization, André’s position was eliminated in early 2020.
André was stunned but undaunted. He wasted no time pounding the pavement. He reached out to contacts, connected with recruiters, updated his resume and sent applications. He was unsuccessful in landing a job, however, for two main reasons. First, he had little job seeking practice – he’d been 15 years at the same organization, and before that he had always relied on a recruiter friend to facilitate his career transitions. Second, two weeks after losing his job, the Covid pandemic befell the country.
“After six months I’d sent out 150 resumes and got only eight interviews. I thought I was the perfect fit for some of those opportunities and managed to get into the final round of interviews, but I was never offered a job. At first, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was clearly doing something wrong,” said André.
Because he had little luck on his own, André decided to go with Plan B – engaging with an outplacement service. He reached out to The Barrett Group (TBG). He was convinced that TBG could help him market himself better, but before committing to the program he waited to see how things would pan out with three organizations at which he was actively interviewing.
“Those interview processes stretched out over three months! I thought I was getting somewhere but, ultimately, they all fell through. That’s when I signed on with The Barrett Group,” said André.
André started by launching into TBG’s Clarity Program.
“I started by doing an assessment of who I am and what I’m looking for,” said André. “It was very valuable. It reinforced that my career path makes sense for me, but it also identified other industry options for me that I’d never considered, like art or the entertainment industry. It was eye-opening.”
After about two weeks André was ready to work with his career consultant, Jerry.
“The first thing we did was deconstruct and then reconstruct my resume. It looked completely different from how it looked before, and it presented me so much better,” said André. “For example, I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years, so I stripped out all the stuff that might put me at risk of ageism. Also, whatever the title of the position I was applying for is what I put at the top of my resume. I had six or seven versions of my resume.”
Next, Jerry helped André with mock interviews.
“Jerry broke down what I needed to work on and how to be more concise,” said André. “I had developed an interview script for myself when I was job seeking on my own, but Jerry helped me tighten it up. I had thought I should provide detailed responses, but he told me to limit my comments to 30 seconds because after that interviewers aren’t listening. My working mantra was ‘More than a soundbite, less than a narrative.’”
André really valued how Jerry taught him to understand what hiring managers are looking for and to market himself specifically to the position he was applying for.
“You need to treat each potential employer as a unique entity. That was very educational!” said André.
And though he thought he was already assertive, Jerry made André even more so, urging André to carefully craft cover letters, send follow-up letters strategically, and anticipate job vacancies and apply for them before the jobs go public – the better to get his foot in the door at one stage or another.
“Things went quickly once I signed on with The Barrett Group,” said Andre.
André learned from Jerry that there was a lot more to do on the job seeking front than he had been doing on his own.
In the end, André didn’t need to do a lot. Within a few short weeks after signing on with TBG, André spotted a job posting that appealed to him – a position for chief financial and operations office at a 40-year old charitable foundation. He sent an application.
“I heard back from the recruiter 40 minutes after sending the application!” said André. “We set up a call to discuss the position and then she forwarded my credentials to the executive director. She wanted to talk to me even though she was on vacation.”
André went through several rounds of interviews and was offered a job within five weeks over the year-end holiday season. He’s excited by the amazing mission of his new employer and is thrilled to start the next chapter of his career.
“The Barrett Group got me over the hump. Jerry, in particular, was a wealth of information. I would recommend him and The Barrett Group to anyone. I’m one for one after working with The Barrett Group. I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence!”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Matt Fretwell - Success Study
Director of Operations
Matt Fretwell was an entrepreneur who wore many hats: adjunct professor, author, church starter, pastor, and leadership and life coach.
After a long career starting successful businesses, Matt was facing burnout. He wanted to find one position that would fulfill his many passions, but he didn’t know what role that might be.
Matt got enormous value from being pushed to honestly assess his values in the Clarity Program and aligning them with his talents to develop a more fulfilling, strategic career plan.
Matt proposed creating a director of operations position to a startup nonprofit where he volunteered as a life coach, negotiating a graduated compensation plan they could grow into.
A self-professed visionary and innovator, Matt Fretwell had spent 20 years following his passions and creating successes out of just about everything he put his hand to. A talented chef, he launched his entrepreneurial career as owner and operator of several acclaimed restaurants. Later, his faith led him to create non-profit ministries, found and revitalize churches, develop doctorate-level training programs for other church starters, and pen multiple inspiring books. His depth and range of experience made Matt a sought-after consultant about leadership, ministry, and community engagement for many organizations.
Matt loved what he did, but over time, the challenges of juggling so many roles in his career began to wear him down. Facing burnout, Matt decided to make a change. He wanted to channel his gifts and talents into one position that would both pay the bills and fulfill his many passions.
“I was getting tired of having multiple streams of income. It’s a lot of work shifting gears,” said Matt. “I felt a push to transition to the business side of altruism and thought that a C-suite level position in the nonprofit world might align well with my gifting and talents.”
Matt knew well his strengths and interests: restoring humanity, community outreach, public speaking, strategic organization, and leadership, to name a few. He also knew, however, that finding a position that utilized all his qualities would be difficult. So, he enlisted professional help.
“I wanted to make a shift and do it right, so I figured I needed a team,” said Matt. “The Navy SEALs have a saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team.’ I chose longevity.”
It was humbling at first for Matt to be on the receiving end of coaching sessions because he was used to being the person administering consulting services to others. He was astonished to discover how much his thinking developed when he yielded to the process.
“The Barrett Group really exceeded my initial expectations. I thought I’d just need their help locating a good fit at the income level I was seeking. I didn’t expect to need help in personality assessment, but I was fooling myself. My coach, Ken Malouf, really challenged me to be honest and transparent about my values and goals. Those discussions revealed a lot about how I could follow my inclinations,” said Matt. “Sometimes it is beneficial for us to swallow our pride and recognize that we need a fresh set of eyes to look at our situation.”
Over four weeks Matt took various assessments. Then he and his coach worked together to identify goals that align with Matt’s talents and values and create a long-term personal strategic plan.
“It was eye-opening. You think you know yourself, but I learned that I have some deep-seated values that I was pushing away. This was partly why I was burning out. Ken would dig deeper and uncover things that I hadn’t put on paper. He’s got a great talent!”
Matt was equally appreciative of his coaching experience when he moved onto Phase 2.
“I really enjoyed working with Lori Chevalier. There is a lot you learn in this second phase, much of it about social media,” said Matt. “I had always thought of myself as an experienced networker – I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and Facebook – but I’d always been on the side of helping others. It was uncomfortable for me to be in the position of asking someone else for help. But I went with it.”
Matt also really valued how Lori pushed him to use metrics in his interviews, negotiations, and resume. What he thought had been a really good resume was not actually the case, so “reconstructing” his resume was highly beneficial. When he began shopping it around to recruiters, his inbox blew up with responses.
The Covid crisis hit in the middle of Matt’s job search and dampened recruiter interest, but he continued to use LinkedIn to find appealing opportunities and leverage his connections to develop an “in”, having faith in the process.
Matt was aiming for a C-suite level position at a nonprofit or a small business with an altruistic mission. He thought he might have found the right fit with a cancer foundation where he interviewed for a director of operations position. They wanted him to raise $5 million for their organization and he knew he could do it. But something felt off.
“I wish I could do for Salvage USA what this potential employer wants me to do,” Matt told his wife. He was referring to a startup nonprofit organization that engages emotionally-scarred military personnel in restorative, community-focused activities. As a volunteer life coach at Salvage USA, the organization had become near and dear to his heart. To his surprise, his wife suggested he talk to the team at Salvage about it.
As luck would have it, the founder of Salvage quickly recognized the value to his organization of bringing Matt on as a director of operations. He didn’t have the money to pay Matt much, but Matt proposed that he work largely on an incentive basis the first year, taking a percentage of any new money he might bring in, rather than a straight salary.
“He took my proposal to the board and they agreed!” said Matt. “That came about through the coaching I got with Ken and Lori. I utilized all the things I’d learned. It was comprehensive.”
Just two weeks into his new job, Matt is loving the challenge and a renewed sense of purpose from helping a cause he deeply admires.
“I’ve already submitted a half a million dollars in grant proposals to 12 different organizations. I have even more lined up. In the end, if I do my job well, it will more than pay itself off. I would have not have taken this position, with a compensation incentive like this, if not for The Barrett Group. They have given me confidence that I can do this!”
Tracy Katz - Success Study
Tracy Katz was senior operations manager at a bank headquartered in the Southeast.
When her company of 20 years underwent a merger, Tracy found the newly available roles unappealing and wanted professional help transitioning to her next career.
Expanding her network and leveraging LinkedIn yielded a key ally at Tracy’s target company, who helped her navigate several job opportunities there.
Despite a roller coaster ride of promising job opportunities at her target company that didn’t pan out, Tracy’s optimistic persistence was rewarded with an offer of senior trainer for a bank operating system.
As a 20-year veteran of a Southeastern regional bank, Tracy Katz acquired a broad range of expertise in the financial services industry, including sales, service, training, and project management. Over time, she married these skills, becoming a specialist in operational effectiveness, business transformation, and change management, and a go-to person when departments merged or other complex projects arose. Ironically, however, when her company merged with another bank, she found the available employment opportunities in the new entity unappealing, not least because they required relocating. So, she opted for a severance package.
“I had been with my company for 20 years and was ready to try something new,” said Tracy. “The severance was really good – about a year’s salary – and I thought with all my experience I would have a job within a few months.”
In the end, however, it took much longer – and a few disappointments – before Tracy began the next chapter of her career.
Anticipating her departure, Tracy researched career coaching services early on and hired The Barrett Group to help with her career transition.
“I had done a lot of things in banking and I wanted to explore my passions. I wanted to do something different and I wanted The Barrett Group to support me in figuring out what that might be,” said Tracy.
Tracy also had two big concerns. First, after 20 years with one company, she felt she had little experience in the job seeking process. Second, she felt that she was a horrible interviewee.
“I don’t tell my story well. Yes, I have accomplished many great things, but I am insecure talking about my successes. During a job hunt, however, you have to do that,” said Tracy. “I needed help identifying my accomplishments and learning how to share them effectively during an interview.”
Tracy began the TBG program by developing a personal strategic plan with her Clarity coach, in which she identified her values and mission. She found the sessions very valuable. She learned that she wanted to be a leader in operations for a mid-size company in Florida. She wanted to work for a company with a strong brand, a great culture, a quality reputation, and integrity. Tracy is a problem solver by nature and wanted to find a role where she could fix things and help others.
Tracy’s job hunt got off to a promising start. She interviewed at a local bank with a new position for a process improvement engineer. But just when she expected to get an offer, the bank announced a merger and the position was shelved indefinitely.
Then Covid hit and Tracy found that many jobs were either unavailable or frozen.
“I got interviews but not as many as I thought I’d get, and I didn’t get selected for them. Also, there were few jobs available at my level. It seemed people were staying in their jobs due to the uncertainty,” said Tracy.
Tracy began working with her career consultant, Julie Mathern, who taught her how to strengthen her network and build social capital as the first step in her job search, then how to navigate LinkedIn Analytics – both critical to finding jobs in the unpublished market.
“You have no idea how helpful it can be!” said Tracy. “Julie taught me that, instead of applying for jobs cold, I should find resources within a company that could connect me with a hiring manager before applying. You won’t get a job if they don’t know who you are or if you don’t come with a referral. That was a great lesson!”
Tracy also learned a lot about interacting with recruiters through LinkedIn and turning messages and emails into phone conversations and, ideally, relationships. This tactic proved particularly useful in Tracy’s exchanges with one key recruiter she’d met early on.
“A recruiter at a company I was really interested in connected with me and we exchanged chats about a training position that would open up in a couple of months. Using LinkedIn Analytics, I located Jennifer, director of training at the company, who responded to my LinkedIn message. We had a great phone conversation and developed a personal connection.”
When the position did open up Tracy reached out to Jennifer, who helped her get an interview.
“I went through two weeks of interviews and thought for sure they would make me an offer only to find that they hired someone else. I was devastated,” said Tracy.
Trying to stay optimistic, Tracy refocused and continued networking. Other opportunities and interviews came and went. Two months later an opening for a product manager position at Jennifer’s company popped up in her searches. Tracy contacted Jennifer again to ask whether Tracy might be qualified.
“She got back right away to say, ‘Yes!’. She also told me about two other positions that I was qualified for,” said Tracy.
Thrilled, Tracy applied for two of the positions, with Jennifer facilitating and sending a personal recommendation to boot. Yet again, despite another great round of interviews, Tracy was denied both positions.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions,” said Tracy. “I knew I was a strong candidate and I didn’t know why I wasn’t getting picked. I was trying to learn from those experiences. I had two very strong interviews with this company and thought, “The third one will be the charm.”
Tracy told Jennifer she wasn’t selected and that she would continue to look for jobs at her company. Jennifer, very impressed with Tracy’s positive attitude, emailed Tracy a few weeks later to discuss a budding opportunity for a third time – this time, a position that she was creating with Tracy specifically in mind – a senior trainer of banking software for a major client.
Tracy is so excited to finally join the company she interviewed with on three different occasions. She credits her success in large part to The Barrett Group.
“I knew I really liked this company, and it was Julie Mathern who taught me how to leverage my resources in a way that proved most beneficial,” said Tracy. “Thanks to that, I connected with Jennifer who got me the job at the end of the day. This has been a great experience.”
Mara - Success Study
Senior Compensation Consultant
Mara was manager of compensation at a national construction management firm in Boston.
When Covid forced state-wide construction suspensions, Mara’s job was eliminated, and she struggled to find work in the deteriorating economic climate.
Mara narrowed her search to the industries that interested her most, used advanced LinkedIn skills to uncover leads, and leveraged professional preparation to nail the interviews.
Mara accepted a position as a senior compensation consultant in one of her two target industries, and is much closer to family.
Mara worked as manager of compensation for five years at a Boston-based design and construction firm. She created and implemented compensation strategies, collaborated with talent acquisition to hire and retain top talent, and helped the company achieve 100% pay equity. But when Covid hit and the company’s activities were put on hold, she was one of hundreds of company employees who were furloughed and, as clients scaled down or canceled their projects, ultimately let go.
Even before she was terminated, Mara started reaching out to people in her network for leads. She lucked out by landing a 6-month contract position, but she knew that chances were good that her company would not be able to retain her indefinitely and that she was on borrowed time to find a new job. So, she enlisted the help of The Barrett Group (TBG).
“I thought The Barrett Group could identify things that I should be doing but was not doing,” said Mara. “I also felt that a coach might be able to help me with my goal of getting a position at the director level.”
Years ago, Mara had been a director of HR for another company, but she decided to sidestep and specialize in compensation. The career move was tantamount to jumping off one career ladder midway up and climbing from the bottom of a different one. It set Mara back a few years in her professional pursuits, but she hoped that the time had come to become a director again.
“My goal is to move into a director level role again,” said Mara, “But what I didn’t know is whether potential employers would recognize from my background that I’m director material.”
Mara started with the Clarity component of the TBG program and really valued how it illuminated what jobs and industries she likes and doesn’t like.
“Clarity was really insightful for me. I see job postings that I now know not to apply for because they wouldn’t retain my interest,” said Mara. “The Clarity assignments were good. They made me pause and think about stuff in a very introspective way. It was an opportunity to be really honest with myself.”
Next, Mara started weekly meetings with her career consultant and appreciated the solid advice she got on how best to answer interview questions and discern what hiring managers are looking for. She also learned how to ask smart questions to assess whether a workplace might be a good fit.
“A lot of the perspectives that George shared with me were game changing,” said Mara. “He saw things through a completely different lens – I looked at the face value of things and he read between the lines.”
Mara also learned from George how to maximize the potential of LinkedIn job searches.
“George showed me how to filter my job search and find people and companies that interest me. I didn’t know any of that before. It’s been fun to work with the LinkedIn filtering system,” said Mara.
Despite all the work she put in, Mara uncovered few opportunities that ticked off all of her boxes. She didn’t take it personally. Instead, she blamed Covid and figured it was just a matter of time before she found the right job.
Still, as the term of her 6-month contract was about to expire, the financial pressure to find a job began to build.
Then, a month before her contract ended, Mara got a call from the hiring manager of a large healthcare organization in Orlando who was looking for a senior compensation consultant. They had a good initial conversation, which led to several interviews and culminated with a job offer.
“They said I sounded like someone who has been with them for a while, and I also felt like I had worked with them already,” said Mara. “It was a really good match for me because I had worked in the healthcare industry before and wanted to again. Plus, the job is located in the same city as my parents and several other relatives, and living near them was one of my goals. I was excited when they made me the offer.”
The position is not the director role Mara sought, however, she is happy to be working in both an industry and a city that she targeted in her search.
“Two out of three ain’t bad,” joked Mara. “I’m near family now. In fact, I’m driving home to a homecooked meal right now. I’m living with my folks until I figure things out.”
Mara is optimistic about her future options. She is looking for opportunities to grow at this new organization and feels good that she is already excelling and having a positive impact. What’s more, George and The Barrett Group are still in her back pocket ready to help her maximize every career opportunity that presents itself.
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Russell - Success Study
Russell was director of engineering at an international traffic safety solutions company.
Major corporate strategy shifts at his company compelled Russell to leave and seek new employment, but his job search efforts were going nowhere.
After first focusing on aligning his job search with personal priorities, Russell steadily revamped everything from his resume to his interview techniques.
Russell landed a position as a plant manager through a recruiter, and leveraged newly acquired skills to negotiate a better compensation package.
As director of engineering for an international traffic safety solutions company, Russell lead a team of seven in overseeing operations, R&D, and supply chain. He managed national accounts for various aspects of the company, and achieved many successes, including growing revenue, eliminating expenses, and increasing product margins. His team developed new processes and patents that were cutting edge for the industry.
When a private equity firm bought the company and began preparing to sell the organization, however, Russell saw the handwriting on the wall – it was time to go. He took a few months off to reconnect with family and soul-search on how best to move his career forward, and then launched his job search.
His efforts went nowhere.
“I sent resumes to recruiters and got some interviews, but nothing panned out. I was pretty surprised,” said Russell. “Based on my work history and experience, I thought I’d get picked up quickly.”
Russell knew how successful job hunts work – you have to get your resume into the hands of the right person. In the past he’d used headhunters and recruiters to do this, but this time it wasn’t working.
“Applying directly to companies and sending my resume to recruiters wasn’t getting me a second look. I applied to jobs whose job descriptions I matched perfectly, and I received zero response from 90% of them,” said Russell. “I was dead-on in experience, and I wasn’t getting picked.”
That’s when Russell contacted The Barrett Group (TBG). Time was of the essence. The last thing Russell wanted was to be forced to take a job out of desperation. At the same time, the further he got from his last job, the more questions it would raise among prospective employers.
“I wanted to move my career forward, but my money supply isn’t endless. It was worth getting professional help because it would speed up my job search and increase the probability of it advancing my career,” said Russell. “I went with The Barrett Group because of its extensive program. They don’t just update your resume, and throw you out there. They have multiple steps, including a personal analysis, and helping you produce a professional business plan. Other companies don’t offer the same level of detail.”
Russell found the Clarity component of the TBG program to be extremely helpful because it forced him to reflect on things that are important to him that he had neglected during his career.
“When you get wrapped up with a job, you lose focus on things. Had I gone through this process a few years ago, I would never have taken my last job,” said Russell. “The Clarity program made me see the importance of having a job that revolves around my priorities: family, personal time, professional growth, and financial security.”
With his career consultant, Lori Chevalier, Russell steadily worked on honing his resume, references, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile. He beefed up his networking, sharpened his interview skills, and fine-tuned his target markets. Within about one month, Russell began sending out resumes.
Then Covid hit.
“My timing was impeccable. I got really good responses and several interviews from my resumes early on,” said Russell, “but when Covid hit, hiring in manufacturing froze. I was panicked big time! If it weren’t for unemployment and the federal stimulus package, I would have been in serious financial trouble.”
Covid, notwithstanding, Russell continued his job search. He doggedly worked his network. Finally, Russell had a breakthrough when a recruiter reached out to him about an opportunity right up his alley – to be a plant manager.
After a series of virtual interviews, Russell was invited for a tour of the facility and to meet the team. The process went great and Russell was soon offered the job with the same base pay as his previous position plus several attractive perks.
He immediately turned to The Barrett Group for help in negotiating the offer.
“I was concerned about moving to a place with a higher cost of living. I wanted to make sure I could sustain my current lifestyle,” said Russell.
The TBG team did a cost of living analysis and reviewed the offer. They coached Russell to request a signing bonus, a moving settlement, and a raise in base salary, which sweetened the final package by $9,000. He is thrilled to be back doing a job where his passions lie.
“In so many ways The Barrett Group helped me. If I had not hired them, I might still be looking for a job today – or I’d have settled for something at much lower pay,” said Russell. “It was money well spent – and, in the end, I recovered my investment.”
Kathleen - Success Study
Head of Quality Assurance
Kathleen was senior director of quality assurance at a company that manufactures synthetic DNA.
When Kathleen didn’t get a promotion she felt she merited, she left the company and sought an executive coach to help her self-reflect and understand how to market herself better.
Kathleen made her resume shine, fleshed out her LinkedIn profile, and honed her interview and compensation negotiation skills.
Kathleen landed as head of quality assurance at a start-up using cutting-edge technology in the fight against Covid, a job she finds both professionally rewarding and personally meaningful.
As senior director of quality assurance at a San Francisco biotech company, Kathleen directed 50 people in developing, and then supporting, a brand-new, quality management system and successfully achieving ISO compliance in record time. With this and other impressive accomplishments under her belt, and after four years on the job, she was looking forward to what she felt was a well-earned promotion to vice president. It never came. Instead, it became apparent that she and her supervisor had developed different values about how Kathleen’s program should be supported.
Kathleen ended up leaving the company, frustrated that she had not seen this outcome coming. Her first step was to hire an executive coach to help her process and understand what had happened.
“I thought that, because I didn’t get the promotion, perhaps I wasn’t doing something right,” said Kathleen.
She did an online search and found The Barrett Group (TBG). She had never used an executive coach before, but she wanted a professional to give her some perspective about her situation, help her handle uncomfortable questions that might arise about her sudden departure from her previous position, and offer her some guidance on how best to market herself for future opportunities. She started with what felt like a “soul-searching” experience in TBG’s Clarity Program.
“My Clarity coach had me address some really difficult questions, like how I might improve my work-life balance, assess what is truly important to me, and determine what I am really looking for in my career,” said Kathleen. “I found it useful. It helped me realize that I wasn’t very balanced – I’m a workaholic.”
In the next phase, Kathleen learned from her career consultant how to bolster her social capital.
“Greg helped me beef up my LinkedIn profile. I wasn’t active on it at all before. I had a profile, but I only dealt with it when I needed a job,” said Kathleen. “Now I’m much better about keeping in touch with people and helping them when I can. Keeping your network active and alive is really important because you never know if, tomorrow, you might not have a job.”
Kathleen also learned how to craft her resume for an executive position and began applying for VP roles, which she had set her heart on.
That is when Covid hit. Kathleen responded by boosting her resume-sending campaign and continuing to connect with people over Zoom. Months went by with few results from her job search, but there was an upside.
“It was good to take time off and decompress from working a lifetime,” said Kathleen. “It was an important mental break.”
Kathleen found the time to learn Spanish, take music lessons, and do gardening – and she reflected a lot on the terrible Covid crisis.
Then something extraordinary happened. One day at the end of July Kathleen received an email from a start-up biotech company expressing great interest in the CV she had sent them three months earlier.
“That was the first time I’d ever just sent my resume to a company cold and got a response,” said Kathleen.
The position was a bit of downgrade in terms of salary and title, but the opportunity offered a unique appeal – the young company was using cutting edge technology to battle Covid, and Kathleen would be lending her talents and skills towards that effort.
“When I began my job search, I really wanted a VP position – anywhere. Then Covid happened. And when this opportunity arose, I realized that I’m now totally fine with not being a VP. What is important to me today is helping the world get through this,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen turned to her career consultant to help her manage the hiring process.
“We did a practice interview and Greg helped me go over a presentation I had to give. Greg also helped me prepare for some tough questions – the hardest being, ‘Why did you leave your previous position?’” said Kathleen.
She also received help when it came to salary negotiations.
“Greg taught me how to ask for things in a way that didn’t sound demanding – and I got exactly what I asked for. I asked for a signing bonus and more stock and they didn’t hesitate. I never would have done that before,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen even received some great coaching about how to handle the issue of her title.
“They didn’t have a senior director position, so I made an agreement with them that, externally, they would call me “head of quality,” and in six months they would review my position,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen is thrilled in her new position.
“This is probably the best job I could have gotten because it’s so meaningful. I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines, I wanted to be part of the solution,” said Kathleen.
Kwasi Asare - Success Study
Manager - Health, Safety & Environment Business Unit
Kwasi Asare was director of corporate safety at a firm that provides construction, maintenance and engineering support to the energy industry.
Energy & Utilities
Kwasi’s job was eliminated when Covid forced his company to restructure, but after 20 years at the company, he needed help navigating today’s employment market.
After reaffirming his personal and professional goals, Kwasi built his network of contacts and leveraged them to ensure his resume was seen by hiring managers.
Kwasi accepted a position as a business unit manager of a large company with good upward potential, and he managed to sweeten the compensation through negotiation.
As director of corporate safety at a large holding company that constructs and maintains equipment for the energy industry, Kwasi Asare led safety management for several business units, and he was the point man for standardizing processes and implementing best practices. A 20-year veteran of the company, Kwasi was unprepared for unemployment when the Covid crisis forced corporate restructuring upon the company, eliminating his position.
“I’d never been terminated or laid off. The next day I figured I should get moving to find a new job,” said Kwasi. “I threw together my resume and sent it to people I had worked with in the past. I started applying to places and I signed up for help from a bunch of executive search firms. I just jumped into it, ignorant of the process. It was not a coordinated or focused approach.”
It was in this way that Kwasi stumbled across The Barrett Group (TBG). His initial interest in TBG’s program was tepid at first because he “just wanted someone to find a job” for him. The more he learned about the model, however – TBG doesn’t find you a job, they teach you a proven methodology to find a job yourself – he decided to give it a try.
“It seemed weird to plunk down a lot of money after just losing my job,” said Kwasi. “But after I reflected more on it, it became clear that this would be an investment in myself. I wanted to advance higher than the director level and possibly transition out of my industry, and this seemed to provide me the option to explore new opportunities and think outside the box.”
Kwasi started by doing a deep dive into his personal values through TBG’s Clarity Program and assessing what he wanted from his career.
“The goal is to explore things that are related not only to work, but also to family, life balance, and geography,” said Kwasi. “If you don’t have that focus on what you’re looking for personally and career wise, it sets you back during your job search.”
While there were no “aha” moments, the Clarity process did illuminate one thing for Kwasi: A career transition is an ideal time to move closer to family, so geography became an important factor in his job search.
The next phase of the program was an exceedingly beneficial lesson for Kwasi about career management.
“I knew about LinkedIn, but I didn’t know how to utilize second- and third-degree connections. I didn’t understand the importance of cultivating relationships and leveraging them to get internal support when applying for a position,” said Kwasi. “Without some kind of internal advocacy, it’s hard to get past the automatic resume screening process.”
Kwasi spent a lot of time developing his LinkedIn network by reaching out to people he hadn’t talked to in years and rebuilding those relationships.
“I realized how poor form it was at first for me to send out my resume to people before I bothered to catch up with them,” said Kwasi. “I learned that from the Barrett Group. Once you genuinely build a connection with people, they often help you with a job search without your asking.”
It wasn’t long before Kwasi mastered how to circumvent traditional job-hunting practices.
“If there is a place you want to work, you first go to LinkedIn and research your connections to find people who work there. Once you figure out the six-degrees of separation, you can ping-pong your way to the top of the list and, possibly, into an interview,” said Kwasi. “You may not get the job, but at least your resume isn’t getting dumped into the trash.”
Leveraging his social capital in this way is exactly how Kwasi ultimately landed his next job. A few weeks after reconnecting with a business acquaintance that he hadn’t talked to in 10 years, the colleague called Kwasi to tell him about an opportunity as a safety manager of a business unit at a large firm on the east coast that might be a good fit. He even offered Kwasi a glowing referral.
The position wasn’t the promotion Kwasi wanted, but it is close to family, which was one of his main goals, and it’s a good job at a bigger company with opportunity for growth, which he didn’t have before. During the hiring process, Kwasi managed to negotiate a higher base salary, a better relocation reimbursement, and a signing bonus.
For Kwasi, even better than his new job is the education he got from the TBG program. In hindsight, he says, his TBG experience made him realize that, previously, he had not been maximizing his potential.
“Looking back, I should have left my former job a while ago. This whole experience really helped me take inventory of things in my career,” said Kwasi. “For 20 years I never thought about leaving the company. I never tested the landscape. That’s horrible! If I had known years ago what I learned from TBG, it might have set my career path in a very different direction.”
Kwasi plans to make the most of the investment he’s made in his career.
“This education was invaluable,” Kwasi said. “Going forward, I’m going to utilize the skills I’ve learned and leverage my social capital – not necessarily to find a job, but because that’s how opportunities come about.”
Manan - Success Study
Director of Systems Quality Engineering
Manan was an unemployed Director of Systems Quality Engineering seeking a similar role.
Manan’s job search was stymied by an underdeveloped network in a field where most jobs are filled through networking.
Rekindling old relationships and cultivating a sphere of influence generated new job opportunities, while expert preparations fine-tuned Manan’s interview skills.
Within four months Manan both landed a job that was a good fit and successfully negotiated a higher compensation package for it.
When Manan found himself unemployed he didn’t initially consider himself an ideal candidate for executive coaching services because he had a track record of successful job searches during his career. He launched a job search on his own for a role similar to his previous position as senior director of systems quality engineering at a computer systems design company in Texas. Manan soon came to realize, however, that the number of jobs available at his level in his field were low, and competition was high. Worse, most open jobs were filled through networking.
“In my field, 80% of jobs are filled through networking. I didn’t have a large network of contacts and I’m not a very outgoing person. I knew that approaching people, especially for help in getting a job, was going to be difficult for me,” said Manan.
After job searching for some time with no leads, Manan decided to enlist expert help. He had never sought professional job search services, and wanted a firm that excelled at helping people find great job opportunities, especially in senior positions. He chose The Barrett Group.
“The track record of The Barrett Group stands out. Over 90% of the people they work with get jobs in three to six months,” said Manan. “And from the very beginning, it was clear to me that people at The Barrett Group know a lot more than I do about job seeking. I soon realized that I hadn’t been using all the avenues available to me to make my job search as successful as it could be.”
Manan appreciated that The Barrett Group views networking as critical in the job search. They soon introduced Manan to some proven strategies that he could employ without having to transform his personality.
“They advised me on how to reach out to people and let them know that I was job hunting. They also coached me on the importance of being an active participant in my network and sphere of influence.”
Manan found the help to be invaluable.
“After I took those first steps and reached out to people, a surprising number were happy to talk to me and connect me to people in their own network – even people I had not been in touch with for five or ten years.”
Manan insists that the best part of his experience, however, was his interactions with his executive career consultant, Vivek Agarwal. “Vivek was a valuable ally from beginning to end. He gave me an understanding of the overall roadmap, helped me prepare for interviews, break them down afterwards, and provided great pointers and feedback on how to fine-tune my job search. And he was always available,” said Manan.
Vivek also helped Manan focus on the positive when he failed to get one job that he had very much wanted, showing him how he could learn from the experience.
About four months after engaging The Barrett Group, Manan was offered a job that he was delighted to accept – but not before using some new negotiation tips to beef up the compensation package to include stock, an expense account, and even relocation assistance to facilitate a move from Texas to California. And now, going forward, he feels empowered to better undertake future job searches with new skills and, most importantly, a robust, new network.
Some identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com