Lynn Duke – Success Study

Director, Human Resources

Client: Lynn Duke was chief human resources officer for a major school district in Georgia.

Industry: Education, Human Resources, Hospitals, Healthcare

Challenge: After spending her entire career in the education sector, Lynn wanted a change, but she hadn’t looked for a new job in 30 years and didn’t know where to start.

Process: After exploring her options and her goals, Lynn learned how to communicate her value proposition to prospective employers through her resume and during interviews.

Landing: Lynn accepted a position as human resources director for a regional nonprofit that advocates for the needs of senior citizens.

Study: As chief human resources officer for a major school district in Georgia, Lynn Duke oversaw the HR needs of 2,500 employees and provided strategic direction and support across operations. She fell into her career at age 19 when she began working for the school district, worked her way up, eventually becoming head of the HR department. After a 30-year career in education, and a particularly challenging final year during the pandemic, Lynn decided to seek a role in a different industry.

In preparation for her departure, she hired a firm to write her resume and develop her LinkedIn profile. The firm didn’t offer coaching on any other aspects of job seeking, however, and Lynn still felt unprepared to enter the job market. So, when she gave notice to the school district in the fall of 2020, she hired The Barrett Group (TBG).

“I didn’t know how to approach a career change. I’d never actually looked for a job before and, while I’d conducted hundreds of interviews as the interviewer, I’d never been on the other side. I wanted to know what was important to communicate to a prospective employer,” said Lynn.

Lynn began her TBG experience with the Clarity program. She was skeptical at first, but she wound up quite enjoying the work she did with her coach.

“You don’t understand what Clarity is until you’re in it. I thought it was enlightening. It wasn’t surprising so much as affirming. It helped me know better who I am, and it framed what is important to me. It made me see that the highlights of my career have not been promotions and raises, rather the times when I was helping people. So, I knew that I wanted to find a job where I could help people and feel good about the work I was doing.”

When Lynn began working with her career consultant, Lori Chevalier, she reworked her resume and LinkedIn profile again, improving on what she’d done months earlier. After that, Lori asked Lynn to develop her social network – a task that Lynn began with trepidation but ended up appreciating very much.

“I hated the idea of reaching out to people. It’s so funny how the things you hate turn out to be the best parts. Life is busy, so I never made the time to do it before. But reconnecting with people I hadn’t talked to in a while and building our relationship was great. People were happy to give me their time. When I started with The Barrett Group I had only 50 connections on LinkedIn. Now I have about 250.”

Lynn spent a lot of time prepping for interviews, too.

“I wanted to know how to explain how I could go from 30 years in public education to a totally different industry. It was because of The Barrett Group that I was so well prepared for the interview process. Lori coached me on skills before every interview. We’d get job descriptions and come up with examples of what I could say. She asked me potential questions and provided feedback on my answers,” said Lynn.

Something that became clear to Lynn is that, in addition to always gravitating towards human resources work, she wanted to work for an organization whose mission was also to help people. That journey didn’t come without some frustration, however.

“My area of Georgia is booming in manufacturing, and I thought working at a plant would be appealing. Manufacturing companies didn’t give me the time of day, though. I never got a single interview.”

Lynn suffered an even greater disappointment when an offer for an attractive job in events and hospitality that she felt certain to get did not come through. But Lori helped Lynn to keep things in perspective.

“In hindsight, Lori and I realized that the job was probably earmarked for someone internally,” said Lynn.

It was discouraging when that door didn’t open either, but Lynn recognized in retrospect that in both cases the positions didn’t align with her new-found purpose: helping people. She restarted her search and within days she had a winner – a job for a human resources director of a regional nonprofit that advocates for the needs of senior citizens.

“I hadn’t been looking to work in this field, but when I saw the job post it hit home because we recently had to put my mother in a home and I had been thinking how important it is to take care of the needs of the elderly.”

Within 15 minutes of applying, Lynn was invited to interview. Soon afterwards, she was offered the position.

“I interviewed and it felt so right for all of us. Everyone there is someone who wants to help people.”

Lynn has thrown herself into her new job and is excited to put some much-needed new processes into place, including developing an employee handbook and implementing good leave policies. She has found her journey with The Barrett Group to be a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

“I went from having no confidence in conducting a job search to feeling very confident. I wish everyone could do The Barrett Group program. When you’re going through the process, you don’t realize how it will all come together for you. I found it to be worth every penny.”
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