Business Development Manager
Leading the growth of a marine services company’s underwater technology resources
Director of Inventory
National Sales Manager
President & CEO
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Director of Operations
Senior Compensation Consultant
David - Success Study
Business Development Manager
David was a senior account manager and a 13-year veteran at a family-operated specialty food distributor.
Sales, Logistics, Food & Beverage, Food Distribution
When management changed the company’s commission structure, David decided to explore opportunities with better earning and advancement potential.
David needed The Barrett Group’s full range of services to sharpen his job search readiness, but his interview preparation and LinkedIn Analysis training were critical to landing his new role.
Within seven weeks, David accepted a job as business development manager at a company in a similar industry making double the base salary, plus commissions.
David began working for a specialty food distribution company straight out of college, wearing many hats, and growing with this family business even through an acquisition. After 13 years, he had risen to senior account manager, driving direct-to-retail sales, developing new business, and writing record revenue, but he was beginning to feel that he’d hit a ceiling on upward mobility. When management then changed the company’s sales commission structure, David decided it was time to explore other opportunities that would allow him to leverage his experience and connections.
“My compensation changed dramatically,” said David. “I am in the best earning years of my life and I needed to make a decision that was best for me and my family, so I decided to see what else is out there.”
Because David had never worked for another company, he opted to enlist professional help early on in his job search. He began by researching executive recruiters, but when he came across The Barrett Group and learned about the fuller range of services it offered, he felt that an executive coaching firm would be a better fit for his needs.
“I had never been on a job interview. I needed to update my resume, my LinkedIn profile, prepare for interviews, and do a lot of other work to get ready for a job search. I saw that The Barrett Group had great results and knew I’d be in good hands,” said David.
David didn’t resign immediately, rather he started The Barrett Group’s Clarity Program while he continued with his job.
“It was great! I got a lot out of the different personality assessments. They were so impressive and really put things in perspective – they made me reflect on the ‘why’ of my drive to make a career transition as much as the ‘how,’” said David.
David was pressed to write down his goals in a clear, conscientious, measurable way, keeping in mind the skills he has. His goals included more responsibility, having a leadership role at a company, stepping outside of his comfort zone, and getting an opportunity to convert his weaknesses into strengths.
After the Clarity Program, David began working with career consultant, Paula Nordhoff. She helped David revamp his resume, develop his reference list, build up his connections on LinkedIn, and learn how to use LinkedIn Analytics.
“Paula was awesome! We had a great rapport. She really helped me in every facet of her responsibility. She was very professional and very willing to jump on a call at any time to work through a problem. I’m very happy with Paula,” said David.
What David valued most about Paula was her help with interview preparation.
“More than anything, Paula was really, really helpful with the interview process. She prepped me on what questions to expect and how to answer them,” said David. “I’d never done interviews outside of college and that was 13 years ago. Paula helped me to be as prepared as possible for them.”
David spent a lot of time beefing up his LinkedIn connections and he credits that effort, along with his newfound interview skills, for his job search success. In the weeks after starting with TBG, David interviewed with five or six different companies, but the lead that panned out successfully was at a company with which he’d unsuccessfully interviewed months before starting with The Barrett Group.
“In October, I connected with one employee at a company that manufactures and distributes ice products. I applied for a position as national account manager, but it faded away,” said David. “In December, after I began working with The Barrett Group, I connected with someone who knows someone who knows someone else at the company I had interviewed with. Thanks to all these new connections, the company decided to take another look at me. They thought I’d be a good fit as a business development manager and that I could grow the team.”
Soon after, a hiring manager reached out to David to set up an interview. One month and four interviews later, she became David’s direct boss.
“Paula, my career consultant, coached me through the entire interview process,” said David. “She was tremendous. She was very accessible – always there when I needed her. Everything she did was great. I couldn’t have done this process without her. And the information the TBG research team provided really helped me impress people during my interviews.”
David’s new position is to develop new territories, win new accounts, and grow ice sales in the Philly metro and South Jersey area.
“I love it! I don’t take orders with this job, I am focused on getting new business, which I love. This is new and exciting, and I have more responsibility than before, which I welcome,” said David.
David is thrilled that his base salary doubled, but the growth opportunity at the organization is what truly drew him in.
“They’re quickly growing and want to add levels to their team. I feel like I fit in well with the team and am looking forward to proving myself as a leader,” said David.
David found his interactions with his consultant, Paula, and his use of LinkedIn to be the most valuable aspect of his TBG experience, but he also recognizes the great benefit he got from all of TBG’s services.
“The whole staff was super helpful during the whole process. Everything helped put me in contact with the right people at my new company. Getting a base of understanding and putting my best profile together on LinkedIn really helped secure the job for me,” said David. “I’m very happy with the preparation I got from The Barrett Group. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Alisa Preston - Success Study
Leading the growth of a marine services company’s underwater technology resources
Alisa Preston simultaneously juggled two careers: manager and engineer at a Canadian electric utility and COO and co-owner of a family-owned, adventure tourism diving business.
As a result of family circumstances, Alisa felt compelled to resign from her salaried job and her family-owned diving business and start fresh elsewhere, but she wasn’t sure how to get started.
Finding her dream job felt like finding a unicorn, so Alisa leveraged her network to set up dozens of informational interviews with various entities to explore her options.
One company that offered guidance to Alisa grew enamored with her ideas and invited her to pitch, and ultimately to run, a new program for them as director of marine technology.
For several years Alisa Preston maintained two demanding, full-time jobs. Her “day job,” where she worked as a high-level engineer and manager at a Canadian utility company, provided her a paycheck. Her “fun job,” at which she was chief operating officer for a family-owned diving business, was an acclaimed, educational, diving expedition business that fulfilled her personal and professional passions. Alisa ended both jobs, however, when a family emergency arose that threatened the diving business.
“I was burning myself out. My “day job” didn’t excite me and my entrepreneurial business, which could have been a success, was stymied by family circumstances,” said Alisa.
Still passionate about operating a diving business, Alisa partnered with a colleague to explore starting a brand new one.
“The concept wasn’t just dive travel, it was integrated with education, science, conservation, environmentalism, and tourism,” said Alisa. “We planned trips to Fiji, Cuba, and Kenya…it had the potential to be amazing. Unfortunately, we could not have launched the business at a worse time. The pandemic hit and we had to postpone all our trips until it was safe.
Alisa found herself at a crossroads. She wanted a fresh start and was focusing on opportunities in the United States but didn’t know where to start. She had a wealth of experience in so many unique fields and wanted to find a job that allowed her to combine all her expertise into one position that was also intellectually challenging, but she didn’t know what it would be. After her challenging year, she also wrestled with serious self-doubts about her ability to take a professional leap successfully.
“It seemed like a fantasy. I wanted to pursue a job in a different country that I didn’t think even existed,” said Alisa.
In late 2019, on the recommendation of a good friend, Alisa began working with The Barrett Group. It was exactly the catalyst she needed to start an exciting next chapter of her career.
“Finding a position that aligned perfectly with me felt like a pipedream, but the people at The Barrett Group seemed to recognize the unique package of skills I have,” said Alisa. “I realized that sometimes you have to invest in something to move forward. That’s true in education, so why not in your professional life?”
With her Clarity coach, Stacy, Alisa considered her long-term vision, evaluated her value proposition, and explored her options. She learned that, in addition to using her engineering, diving, robotics, science, tech and research backgrounds, she wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest near the ocean.
Next, with Lori, her career consultant, Alisa learned to rework her LinkedIn profile, leverage her network and social media, and tailor her resume in different ways.
“Applications were the hard part because of the complexity of my resume. I leaned heavily on Lori initially, but eventually I became more independent in my job search.”
Alisa appreciated all that she learned from Lori.
“Signing on with The Barrett Group didn’t mean letting someone else find me a job. It meant acquiring the tools to do the work myself,” said Alisa. “Sure, it’s nice to have someone else do the work, but I think we all know that the easy path is not usually the best path.”
When Alisa launched her job search, she initially got a huge response from recruiters, but the pandemic soon hit its peak and things went quiet. Ironically, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I was really nervous, and I probably would have jumped at the first job offer I got instead of waiting for the best job for me,” said Alisa. “Lori encouraged me to hold off and fine tune my search,” said Alisa.
Alisa narrowed her focus and resolved to find to a job that would marry all her talents. If not, she would pursue a PhD that would do the same and then start a company to realize her dream job. Using what she called “the TBG approach,” Alisa reached out to companies that seemed out of her league to get guidance on industry trends and how to design a practicable PhD program.
It was the perfect strategy.
“I had over 30 informational interviews with a number of companies,” said Alisa. “What started as a request for guidance on an educational program at one of those companies, a commercial diving and salvage company based in Seattle, became the initial steps in creating the job that I now have.”
“They gave me a blank slate and asked me to make a proposal out of high-level ideas and needs they had that incorporated technology into diving. I was invited to present it to senior executives at the parent company and, ultimately, to design the job I’ve been hired into.”
Alisa is thrilled with her new career.
“The job I have now includes everything I wanted – every aspect! The diversity of what they do is top-notch, and their integrity aligns with mine. I found the unicorn!” said Alisa.
For Alisa, the most valuable part of the TBG program was learning to believe in herself and seeing the value that she brought to the table.
“The incredible support of Stacy, my Clarity coach, and Lori, my career consultant, really helped me. They made me realize that my dreams were possible,” said Alisa. “There wasn’t a single meeting that I didn’t walk away from feeling uplifted. This wasn’t just career coaching; it was so much more.”
Gian Toro - Success Study
Director of Inventory
Gian Toro was general manager of sourcing for a private, regional auto dealership in the Midwest.
When his company’s management required staff to work from the office during the Covid pandemic, Gian resolved to quit, but first he wanted help finding a better and more challenging position.
Gian learned how to quantify and present his accomplishments to make them attention-grabbing both on his resume and in interviews.
In under three months, Gian was offered a challenging new opportunity as director of inventory for an exciting, virtual auto sales initiative with the potential to make 50% more in compensation.
As general manager of sourcing for a private, regional auto dealership in the Chicago area, Gian Toro oversaw and managed the full lifecycle and profitability of inventory and successfully lead and directed 12 people on his buying team. When the Covid pandemic began, Gian became increasingly frustrated with management for setting a policy requiring staff to work from the office.
“Although I spent 90% of my day behind a computer screen, they wanted my team and me to be in the office every day,” said Gian. “I got a lot of pushback from my team about that, and I had to figure out how to rotate 12 people into and out of the office each day to maintain social distancing. It was a big point of contention and a poorly thought-out policy.”
For peace of mind, Gian decided to leave the company and seek new opportunities closer to family in Charlotte, and possibly in a new industry. Before even launching his search, he resolved to enlist the help of an executive coach.
“Before I got my last job I missed out on a great job in Charlotte in the construction industry. I would have been a strong match for the role, but I flat-out flubbed the interview because of differences in industry nomenclature and because I wasn’t prepared for the kinds of questions they would ask,” said Gian.
This time Gian wanted professional support preparing for interviews and making sure his resume shone. He researched several organizations and settled on The Barrett Group (TBG).
“Once I saw what The Barrett Group offered, that was it. They seemed to have the most complete package,” said Gian.
Gian started with the Clarity Program and found that the results of the DISC personality assessment cemented the suppositions he already had about himself and helped him refine the characteristics of the role he wanted: leadership, design, and implementation.
“I’ve taken other personality assessments, but what I like about DISC is that you can apply the findings to the next step – namely, ‘Are you in the right job?’” said Gian.
Gian met weekly with Sharon Richter, his Clarity coach first.
“I liked working with Sharon. We really connected well. We had insightful conversations and she made it fun to go through stuff that could have been boring and tedious,” said Gian.
In the next phase, Gian got enormous value out of his meetings with his career coach, Lori Chevalier.
“Lori was awesome. I was always excited to meet with her. She really challenged me,” said Gian. “It was hard for me to quantify my accomplishments, but she really pushed me to do it in a clear and concise manner. The change in my resume was like night and day – and I didn’t embellish a thing! To a hiring manager it popped, rather than being just another piece of paper in the pile.”
Gian also credits Lori with excellent interview preparation.
“Interviewing was one of my main concerns,” said Gian. “But Lori taught me how to present myself as more than a guy buying inventory – I am building and training teams, creating processes and procedures, and writing policy.
For Gian, learning how to identify his accomplishments and break down the business impact of those accomplishments was huge.
“I know the value I bring to the table, but quantifying it into dollars, translating it into a concise resume, and talking it through during an interview is hard. The Barrett Group helped me process all that.”
When Gian officially began letting people know he was looking for a job, things moved very fast.
“I asked a contact of mine for feedback on my resume, and he happened to know of someone who was looking for someone with my experience and skills. Within two weeks we were all connected,” said Gian.
The position was with an auto dealership network to build out a pandemic-induced initiative to buy, sell, and service cars entirely online for customers who don’t want to visit a dealership at all. Gian’s role would be to buy cars, develop teams, and manage inventory in a way that limits physical points of contact between people.
Gian had multiple interviews with various people over several weeks at the end of which he was offered the position.
“I was looking to get out of the auto industry because I was looking for a new challenge. But this challenge is big enough to entice me to stay. Plus, I can be Covid-conscious and work remotely from wherever I want to. That is huge! Not being 800 miles away from family will be fantastic,” said Gian.
Two months into his new role, Gian couldn’t be happier.
“I would have missed out on this job if I had not hired The Barrett Group,” said Gian. “There was nothing that wasn’t valuable about my experience. Everything played a role in making me ready to land this job. For me to have done so in the time I did…I can’t say enough good things about The Barrett Group.”
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.
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.”