I’m a workplace psychologist and career coach. I help clients to choose, change, or advance their careers.
How did you get started in this path?
I was working in the tech industry and in my role doing recruiting, I felt muzzled by the company lawyers about how much feedback I could give job applicants and interviewees.
My inclination was to be candid but I wasn’t allowed to be. I started doing volunteer work helping job seekers because in that role, I could be more transparent.
Eventually, I decided to focus full-time on psychology and career coaching. I still work quite a bit with people in the tech industry so those early years were a good foundation.
Is this something you decided early on in your career?
After I did some volunteer career coaching, I was hired to teach career development through a continuing education program at The University of Texas at Austin.
I wanted more formal education so I completed a master’s degree in counselor education specializing in career development.
I met students from the doctoral program and they were doing interesting things so I decided to stay and finish a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.
At some point, I met a psychologist who specialized in helping people with work-related challenges and he encouraged me to make this my specialty, too. It has been a good fit.
What is the Best Career Advice You’ve ever received?
Get comfortable with navigating change. Everything changes: you will change, your work environment will change, and the economy will change around you.
If you determine your guiding principles for what you want for your career and your life, it will be much easier to stay true to your vision and values even when circumstances and situations are fluid.
What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?
Freud supposedly said that love and work are the two most important parts of life. I agree.
We spend so many hours at our jobs and work satisfaction is a significant part of overall life satisfaction, so I enjoy helping people optimize this area.
How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?
Reading is my superpower.
I read everything from books to magazines to blogs.
I also talk to a lot of people every week, especially people who work in tech because that’s the primary industry in which I coach.
What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?
All the contradictory career advice online really undermines people’s ability to feel centered and focused about the strategies to employ.
There is information everywhere but often it is difficult to know how to apply it effectively.
What are the common mistakes that you see them do?
Giving up is the surest way to fail. Also, it is a psychological trap to focus on what you perceive are your weaknesses and to conclude that the obstacles are impossible to overcome.
No matter who you are, someone will say something critical, whether it is because you are too young, too old, lack a college degree, have too many college degrees, are inexperienced or very experienced, are too “in the box” or too creative, etc.
I support clients to embrace who they are and find the jobs or self-employment options that are a match for their unique selves.
How should job seekers approach job search today?
It depends on the job seeker’s strengths and personality.
I read advice telling people that it is a waste of time to apply online but for some of my clients, an online job search is extremely effective because of the skills they offer and their writing ability to convey what they can do.
For other people, connecting through conversations is the best approach.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?
AI is going to be huge.
It is already difficult to get good feedback from recruiters and hiring managers and it will be doubly so when the interviewing is done by robots.
What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?
Ideally, don’t graduate until you have built some marketable skills and relationships. But it is never too late.
Good grades alone are not sufficient to lead to a fulfilling career so make sure you don’t make achieving a perfect GPA the sole focus.
What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?
As soon as you can, find a way to become part of the community associated with the new career, whether via an online group or a professional association or a job that is peripherally related.
People naturally help people who share common interests. This approach is so much easier than trying to break in to a new career from the outside.
How should job seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?
Job seekers are often tempted to ignore LinkedIn because it can seem overwhelming to use it effectively, but taking a class that might take only one hour could possibly make all the difference in your successful job search.
If you live in the United States, you can probably access LinkedIn Learning for free through the public library. In many geographic locations, a library card enables you to log in from home and complete classes online. A class can show you how to keyword optimize your profile, how to search for jobs, how to apply, and how to respond effectively when a recruiter or hiring manager reaches out.
These are all valuable job search skills and worth the time to learn.
You can also hire someone like me to partner with you and complete the work together.
Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?
Unemployment might be low but underemployment and job insecurity are high. U.S. employment practices in many states are not pro-employee so there is a lot of stress.
Some of this can be reduced by enhancing one’s marketability and some of it needs to be addressed at a systemic level.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?
People want to do work that matters.
You can’t just throw money and good benefits at the most talented people and think that’s enough. They want purpose and meaning, too.
Workplace flexibility is extremely important to most good employees, too.
If an employer doesn’t offer these things, another employer will, so recruitment and retention will be challenging for employers who don’t understand this.
Janet, what are you currently working on?
I’m writing a book about job interviewing because despite the huge amount of online career advice on this topic, I still want to create a resource that shares everything I’ve learned that can help job seekers land job offers and choose the best ones for their unique goals and values.
What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?
It totally depends on their industry and career focus.
Joining professional associations is a good way to find the best resources for the career path you want.
What is the best way for our audience to reach you?