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A Key to Success: Get Out There

by Shannon Joseph

The fear of getting in front of people has never been an issue for me. It’s typically the place I feel most comfortable. Having been an entrepreneur for so many years, selling products and out-of-the-box ideas was second nature. However, selling myself to a potential employer had become a challenge.

After relocating from New Orleans to Dallas after Hurricane Katrina, it was essential for me to re-enter the work force. I spent hundreds of hours glued to my computer searching every possible job site. I have no doubt that I have visited every career search engine in cyberspace. By the time I realized my results were unremarkable, a year had passed and I was still unemployed.

A friend introduced me to Women For Hire. She had attended the Women For Hire event in Atlanta and thought I should check out the event in Dallas. I admit I wasn’t completely sold on the career fair approach, but I was willing to try. I needed a job.

About three weeks after registering, I received an email requesting information about my story. Women For Hire CEO Tory Johnson was researching a possible workplace segment for ABC’s Good Morning America and she was interested in learning how I came to be unemployed.

I shared with Tory my experiences of loss, told her how frustrating it was to get absolutely no response to the countless resumes I had sent out. I told her how hard it was to be rejected. Here I was, a seasoned marketing professional with an MBA and enough charm to make everyone feel like family, and I couldn’t land an interview.

As I hit “send” I sensed a somewhat cathartic relief of getting it off my shoulders. An hour later, Tory called. I talked. She listened. I cried.

By the end of the conversation, our mentor-mentee relationship began. Tory was exceptionally honest with her perception of my career search. Almost too honest, I thought! I needed to polish my resume, reevaluate my goals and, most importantly, get out from behind that computer. She was blunt. “As a marketer, you’re definitely not doing a good job marketing yourself.” Not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. My direction had to change.

While the need to network seemed obvious, it took an awful lot of commitment and perseverance. Focusing all of my search efforts online fueled a false sense of security. I believed I was doing all I could to find work, but in reality I wasn’t.

Taking a cue from Tory, I began to pick up the phone and make cold calls. I met with people face-to-face. And yes, I attended that Women For Hire career fair. In doing so, I regained my self-confidence.

What helped me more than anything else was meeting face-to-face with potential employers. I’m more than what appears on my resume. Face-to-face is the only way for my personality and presence to speak for me.

Getting out there also proved to be the only way for me to discover opportunities that I hadn’t really thought of before. By putting my best self on display and by opening my mind to new people and new ideas, I secured a position that on paper wouldn’t have been as appealing. There is truly no substitution for getting up from that computer, getting out there and making yourself known.