Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

Instead learn how you can compare yourself to yourself and embrace your progress

I remember when I was a little girl, my mother used to remind me that if I was jealous of another girl's toys, clothes or some other manifestation of her life that I couldn't just "swap" one element of my existence for hers. She used to say, "If you want to trade places with little Annie, remember you have to trade everything in your life for everything in hers." Suddenly, I wasn't so jealous that little Annie had more toys or nicer clothes, because I'd remember how mean her dad was or how terrible she was at math.

It's a silly story, perhaps, as even if I did want to trade places with little Annie, I couldn't have, but the underlying lesson -- that comparing oneself to someone else or looking upon someone else's life with a sense of focused jealousy -- is a dangerous and unhelpful thing.

What makes this even harder is that throughout our lives we're often set up in situations in which others are comparing us, often against our peers. And this can be especially obvious when we're talking about careers, as performance reviews, promotions and even an interview setting can feel like nothing but deciding whether your particular skills, strengths and qualifications are better / more worthy than the person next to you.

I've worked with several clients now who find themselves falling into this trap of comparison as they're trying to transition from one career to another, and do you know what tends to be the trigger? LinkedIn. Before we had the internet, resumes were pretty hush hush -- you only saw another person's accomplishments if you were a recruiter or hiring manager -- but today we've got every piece of work experience, every project, every recommendation and every success blasted on the internet for everyone to see.

Changing careers is already an uphill battle. You have to take a rigorous, 360-degree approach to your job search, perhaps even putting in what you perceive to be more effort than your peers. So even though LinkedIn becomes a great tool for finding future networking connections or learning about roles you're interested in, it can also be a landmine where all of a sudden your own background and experiences start to look woefully inadequate.


First of all, LinkedIn is a marketing tool. Just as you wouldn't show up to a beauty pageant after rolling out of bed, you wouldn't show up to a party where all of the world's recruiters are hunting for job prospects without showcasing your best aspects. People who have good LinkedIn profiles do because they've often spent hours curating their greatest accomplishments and impact statements, reaching out to (often) tens or hundreds of contacts requesting recommendations, scouring the internet for media that showcase their work, etc.

ANYONE can do this with time and effort, which not only means that you can have a stellar LinkedIn profile that looks just as impressive, but also that everyone's profiles should be analyzed with a grain of salt (this is a performance people practice for!).

Secondly, LinkedIn may be the "professional" social network, but just like you shouldn't think someone has a perfect life because they only post happy, bikini beach pictures on Facebook, don't make assumptions about someone's happiness or success based on their LinkedIn profile.

Case in point: I started my career at The Walt Disney Company. I got an MBA from Harvard Business School. I got promoted and worked at Capital One. And I was fucking miserable.

You would never have known this from my smiling profile picture or gleaming statistics. In fact, none of the negative things I experienced from any of my jobs are showcased in my profile. You don't know why I transitioned from role to role. You don't know my salary, what my bosses were like, whether I worked with kind people or whether I faced sexual harassment at work. All you know is that I have some fancy names and that my career appears to be perfect.

When you compare yourself to someone else without full and complete information to drive the comparison, the only thing you are doing is contributing to your own negative feelings about yourself. And when you're already attempting to do something that makes you uncomfortable or that challenges you, this negative energy that you're creating will do nothing but inhibit you from making progress toward your goal. There is absolutely not one ounce of benefit to this behavior.

Here's what to do instead:

1) Keep track of your own strengths, skills, values, accomplishments and impacts. Write down the things that you did in detail, focusing on the people you affected positively or the way you helped the business achieve a goal. Update the list regularly and refer back to it consistently when you're feeling down about yourself.

2) Develop a progress chart that indicates where you want to see forward progress in your life. Do you lack confidence when it comes to networking? Do you feel your resume needs a refresh? Write down the areas that you'd like to see yourself grow.

3) Set specific, time- and action-based goals and instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself. You wanted to revamp your resume over the course of four weeks and did it in 2? Celebrate! You wanted to increase your confidence in networking and you've now completed X informational interviews or attended X in-person networking events? Celebrate this too.

The only fair comparison that you can make...the only situation in which you have complete information...is when you're comparing the person you are today to the person that you were yesterday and the person you want to be tomorrow.

You control your actions, behaviors and emotions today and always. You decide when you want to change and how you want to embrace or react to that change. Stop drawing conclusions about other people's lives or making assumptions about their level of greatness and focus instead on improving your own life and making yourself great. I promise you that the inward focus will not only make you a more tolerant, empathetic and less judgmental individual, but it will also make you realize just how fantastic you are, too.


Are you Unhappily Employed? Stressed, frustrated and confused by a job that you hate? Download my free eBook to getting unstuck and get on the path to finding a career that makes you happy.

Want to learn more about how we can work together on your individual interviewing skills? Request a free, 30-minute meet and greet and we can chat about you and your goals!

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bill is a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. She coaches groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to their career. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.gabriellebill.com



Friday, August 26, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

If you're like me, some days you're just in the groove. Your inspiration is flowing, the ideas are popping out like hot cakes and you feel on fire.

And then there are the other days. The days when getting started just feels SO hard. Where you want to lay in bed and pretend that none of your obligations exist.

On some occasions taking a day to just veg might be the perfect way to recharge, but sometimes I find that if I can just get started on a task, I usually find the "flow" I need to complete it, and in less time (or with less effort) than I expected.

One of the best ways I find inspiration is by reading the quotes of those who have come before me, so today, I took five of my favorite career-related sayings and turned them into desktop wallpapers. Download one or download them all -- you can right click on the images themselves and "Save picture as" or visit this drop box link for the raw files!

May they bring you the same sort of spark that they do for me. Enjoy.

Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs you don't like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn't that a little like saving up for sex for your old age?


Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.


The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.


Progress always involves risk. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.


You are what you think. So just think big, believe big, act big, work big, give big, forgive big, laugh big, love big and live big.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

When I was itching to leave Disney and move on to a new opportunity, I had identified "issues" with my current workplace (i.e., I wanted to be a people manager, wanted more money / a better title and disliked the seemingly age-based hierarchy). Thus, when I applied to, and was interviewed for my job at Capital One, I had immediately honed in on evaluating those aspects of the company. When Capital One offered me a Manager title, a nearly 40% salary increase and the promise of direct reports (plus, not a single person on the team was over 35, including the Director), I thought, "Bingo!" But my approach had been short-sighted.

What I neglected to do in the course of my interview was interview them, and do it thoroughly. I spent so much time preparing my answers, bringing out my best examples and ensuring I came across as the candidate they'd want to hire that I completely forgot to evaluate whether the job itself was truly the right fit for me. I was so laser-focused on fixing the ills from my previous job that I found myself blinded and wearing rose-colored, tunnel-vision glasses. It meant I jumped at an opportunity that, within weeks of starting, was revealed to be a poor match.

Of course, I'm not the only person to make this mistake. In the process of recruiting my own team at Capital One, and even in my previous role recruiting interns for Disney Vacation Club, I saw time and time again how candidates would bypass the opportunity to ask me questions. Or if they did ask questions, they'd be shallow and meaningless; questions that in no way, shape or form would actually contribute to their understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.

My least favorite question of all time is touted everywhere as a "smart" question to ask, and that is: "What are your expectations for this person in the first 6 months?"

Can I tell you how much cockamamie is embedded in the answer I gave people? No matter where you work, be it a start-up or Fortune 500 company, I can promise you that very little is predictable, and what you expect someone to be working on today could completely change the next day, week or month based on business priorities and results. So trying to lay out expectations beyond the obvious is just B.S. People ask that question because they think it makes them look smart or like they're prepared to tackle challenges, but in reality, it doesn't give them any true insight.

What people forget is that the interview stage with a company is a two-way conversation where you BOTH are determining whether the fit is right. You'll only be doing a disservice to yourself (and your potential employer) if your focus is on landing an offer for the sake of getting an offer.

Let's use dating as an analogy here. You wouldn't date someone for 6 months simply with the goal of being able to call them your boyfriend/girlfriend if you didn't really like them right? Those first few dates are critical for assessing a person's basic match with you, and if you find that there are things that are true red flags or show-stoppers, you usually pass and continue hunting for someone with whom you're more aligned. Why do we forget to do this when it comes to work?

Here's what I'm suggesting:

I'd like to see each and every one of you taking inventory of yourself and making a list of the things that are most important to you in a job. Then, when you're faced with an upcoming interview, ensure you craft questions that allow you to assess the company and opportunity along those dimensions. 

Here's an example:

Judy has identified that she really works best under the tutelage of a supportive, gentle boss. She enjoys working in teams, but really gets the most done when she's given the individual space (both physically and mentally) to process through her assignments. She gets tense when dealing with big, loud personalities or pressure to deliver before she's had her "process" time. Her personality is soft spoken, and although she has lots of ideas, she probably won't be the first to shout them out in a meeting.

In this scenario, what should Judy ask in her interview?

1) "Hey there boss lady/man, tell me more about your leadership style?" Or "When your direct report does not meet expectations on an assignment, how do you deliver your critique?"

For Judy, her relationship with her manager is going to be critical to her ability to feel successful in her role. This question allows for her to assess how her future manager handles conflict, whether or not she/he works with the person to find a solution and the extent to which they seem to express patience and care with those under their supervision.

2) "How much teamwork is involved in the day-to-day role? Can you give me an example of a project I might have to work on in a team?" OR "To what extent is collaboration and a democratic decision-making process valued at this company?"

Judy likes people, but she also knows that she does her best work when she's given the chance to individually assess and problem solve first. So, if she hears that the organization prides group thinking and brainstorming, or really pushes for teams to decide on action steps together, Judy may start to feel frustrated. Asking for specific examples of projects forces your interviewer to pull from the real world, rather than answer in vague terms. You probably know yourself that it's much easier to "fake" an answer when you're talking in suppositions and much harder to falsify or create a rosier-than-normal picture when asked to get specific.

3) "What are the personality traits of those that tend to succeed in this organization? What traits are usually identified as areas of opportunity?"

Lots of people like to ask about the promotion process, but let's face it: getting a promotion is only one way of evaluating success in a role. Sometimes people don't want to be promoted -- they enjoy the detail-oriented work of an individual contributor and couldn't be bothered to shift to managing people. Others may want to be promoted, but still want to feel successful in the here and now. Shifting focus away from the promotion process and toward the way success is evaluated wholly will tell you a lot about whether you're a good culture fit. If successful people are aggressive, outgoing, and opinionated, in this example Judy's soft-spoken nature might make her feel invisible.

At the end of the day, what I hope you'll take away from this post is the idea that you have every right to interview your employer to the extent that they are interviewing you. Don't just ask questions to fill time or because you know you "should" do it, but really dig in and get a 360-degree view of the organization, the job and the culture. You'll benefit by leaving the interview with a clearer picture of the opportunity, and it'll make accepting the offer or moving on to something better that much easier.

What other questions do you have about interviewing that you'd like me to address in a future blog post? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Want to learn more about how we can work together on your individual interviewing skills? Request a free, 30-minute meet and greet and we can chat about you and your goals!

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bill is a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. She coaches groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to their career. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.gabriellebill.com



Tuesday, August 09, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

Every once in a while, I get a question from a colleague, reader or client that's crazy important, but just doesn't have enough "meat" to be an intense, story-driven blog post (and as you know, those are my favorite to write). It's meant that, 'til now, I've bypassed using this content for Career & The City and just answered these folks directly. But today I got to thinking.

I said, "Self. This is dumb. Who says you can't write a post that's straightforward, factual and still an interesting read? Not I!"

And thus the concept of the "Quickie" was born. You'll find these posts to be shorter, punchier and perhaps more list-driven than normal, but I hope that in spite of the new format, you find them just as insightful and helpful.

If you've got a question on your mind that you'd like me to address in an upcoming Quickie, I want to hear it! Just drop it into the comments section below or leave it on my Facebook page.

And now for today's Q...

Are cover letters still a thing? 

It depends. (Of course, nothing in the job search is black and white, what did you expect?)

In my experience, I've seen hiring managers who will pore over every ounce of your resume, then devour your cover letter (and maybe even hold it against you if you didn't submit one). Other hiring managers simply can't be bothered, and if they look at your resume for more than 30 seconds you're lucky.

Some companies make submitting cover letters optional; others don't even give you the chance to add one to your application. But truthfully, if the only way you're applying for jobs these days is via submitting blindly online, we've got bigger fish to fry.

Ultimately, a well-crafted, strategically written and expertly used cover letter can, and often does, increase the likelihood that your candidacy will be considered. But that's the catch...it needs to be done, and delivered, in the right way.

Here are a few tips for making your cover letter work in your favor:

1) It absolutely, 100% MUST be customized for the employer and job that you are applying to. Generic cover letters DO NOT WORK, and they are as easy to spot as a coffee stain on a white t-shirt. Address your cover letter to a real person and talk specifically about why this company and this job piqued your interest. Your cover letter is another opportunity to provide a compelling argument as to why I should give you a chance, so use the space for that purpose!

2) Be brief. Write out everything you want to say and then delete half of it. Aim to take up 1/2 to 3/4 of a page and NEVER send a multi-page letter. Remember that this document is meant to be a supplement to your resume, not regurgitation of what's already there. Use the content to expand upon a certain skill set or to tell me a story I haven't already heard. Just do it in as few words as you can to show you not only respect my time, but also understand how to prioritize information and focus on what's key.

3) Show don't tell. This advice is old, but it's critical. If you tell me that you're a strong communicator, I can choose whether or not to believe you (and because I've never met you, chances are I won't). If you SHOW me that you're a strong communicator by giving me an example of a time you solved a problem through expert teamwork or secured a client thanks to a stellar presentation, I have no choice but to walk away understanding it's a skill you possess. Every time you find yourself listing out a bunch of skills, force yourself to take a step back, pick THE most important skill to highlight and then explain to me why you count that among your strengths.

4) Use this as an opportunity to explain away any "questions" about your candidacy. Are you a job switcher looking to enter into a new industry or function? Use your cover letter to tell me why you're making that move and why I shouldn't be concerned about your lack of direct experience. Do you have any large gaps in your employment history? Help me understand why that's the case and how you've been spending your time in the meanwhile. Some recruiters or hiring managers will be looking at your application finding reasons to say no. Eliminate that to the degree that you can by proactively addressing any issues that could give the hiring manager pause.

5) Aim to send your cover letter and resume to a real person that you've previously connected with in addition to submitting both online. When someone knows you or refers you to a colleague, the recipient is much more likely to actually read and pay attention to the materials they've received. Maybe you've networked with someone at the company who knows the hiring manager? Ask them to forward your documents along with a note about how you met. If you've previously spoken to a recruiter at the company (even if they're not the recruiter for that role), same game. Depending on your relationship and whether you intend for the email to be forwarded to someone else, you might even try pasting your content into the body of the note. Not having to open two attachments further reduces barriers to the content being read.

What other questions do you have about cover letters? Let me know in the comments section below, and I'll do my best to address them, or if you think you need more 1:1 help, feel free to snag a 30-minute consultation and we can chat about working together.

Sign up for email updates while you're at it (no spam here, I promise). You'll also get a FREE copy of my guidebook, 7 Strategies to a Seamless Job Search, just for signing up.

So who am I, you ask? Well, I'm a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. I coach groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to careers. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more by visiting www.gabriellebill.com



Wednesday, August 03, 2016 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

(If you haven't already read part one of this series, where I detail the story of my layoff, please click here to check it out!)

There's no doubt that getting laid off was a shock to my system. At first it didn't even seem real. I felt as though any moment I'd wake up from this crazy dream and be right back where I started.

But as the days and weeks passed by, as I completed my 30-day "transition" at work and no longer had to report to the office, the reality of my situation sank in, and so did the confusion.

You know how when you stand on a dock overlooking the ocean, it appears that the water just continues on forever? Well, that's sort of how it feels to lose your job and not really know what step to take next. Of course, your life situation will predicate some of your choices (obviously if you have a family to support, you'll be in a different position than I was), but for me, it felt as though there were limitless possibilities of what I could do next. That's a liberating thought, but also a terrifying one.

I had been following a path, even if it had been the wrong path in many ways, for the last 10 years, and even though there were twists and turns, I had never strayed too far from the road. Now, I had a paintbrush in my hand, and only I could decide whether to continue painting or start on an empty canvas.

They (whoever "they" are) say that in these traumatic moments, you begin to take inventory of yourself, and often when you do this in earnest, you find you aren't the same person you once thought you were. We spend so little time in introspection, pushing away or ignoring our emotions, wants, needs and desires, that when we make these punctuated attempts, it can be startling to notice just how much has changed.

This was very much the case for me. A deep, strong desire within me was calling for me to work from home, to find a career with innate flexibility and to operate, as much as possible, on my own terms. I was sick and tired of marketing -- I no longer found it inspirational or challenging, and the thought of returning to yet another job in this field gave me pangs of anxiety. I knew I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I had never, ever been able to figure out what kind of business I'd want to run. I found myself dancing around in circles trying to piece together all of these thoughts, while not forgetting the reality that I needed to work, and ultimately I'd end up so frustrated that I'd just push it all away.

Then I remembered career coaching. And not in the, "Oh, this is what I want to do with my life" vein, but in the, "Oh there are actually people out there specifically trained to get me out of this funk" way. As a Harvard Business School alumna, I got access to three complimentary sessions with a career coach, and I soon discovered that as a SoFi member, I also had access to a coach. I took advantage of both, figuring that in my uber-confused state, I'd need as much help as I could get.

My HBS coach, Jill, wound up being a life changer. At first, she sent me a few worksheets that were exceedingly frustrating to fill out. All she was asking me to do was to identify things I liked and didn't like about my past jobs, or things I wanted from a new job. And yet the intense fear of listening to my own gut instincts paralyzed me. It took weeks of staring at those papers before I gained the courage to actually write something down. Even then, things were clear as mud.

I remember getting on the phone with Jill for our second session, completely fed up with myself. I had spent (what felt like) hours working on the assignments she'd given me, and all I could come up with was that I liked to write, give speeches/presentations, solve problems and help other people. But looking at those, I saw four distinct skills, not a job category.

Then she said the magic words: "Have you ever thought of becoming a career coach? I think you might really enjoy it."

I hadn't. Not once. And yet, upon further examination of my past, we saw that so many signs pointed to this line of work. I had signed up as a career counselor and advisor on two online "helping" platforms, and had loved reviewing people's resumes and doing mock interviews. I had relished the chance to lead the recruiting process for Disney Vacation Club's professional interns for nearly three years, working hand-in-hand with HR to find resumes, interview candidates and onboard the newbies. At Capital One, I had wanted nothing more than to be a people manager, and when I successfully recruited two all-star candidates, I was quickly the go-to person on the team for help with hiring. When I looked back on my corporate experience, it wasn't the marketing accolades that I remembered, but the impact I had on the growth and development of others.

If I'm being honest, it's not like discovering these things suddenly made everything fall into place and make perfect sense. But what it did do was give me a kernel of hope. It showed me a) that there was value in my skill set, and b) that there were possibilities for fulfilling work beyond what I had been doing for the last decade. And at that stage, the hope that this inspired meant everything.

I was laid off on September 7, 2015, and on November 15, 2015, I hit publish on my website. Was my business perfect? Did I have every piece in place and feel uber confident that I'd sell out in a month? Absolutely not (and if I'm honest, being an entrepreneur is a never-ending process of growth and change). What I did know was that, for the first time in my life, I was laying the groundwork for the future of my career, cement and bricks in my own two hands. And the excitement and exhilaration of pursuing something so bold was a feeling I'd never quite felt before. Walking into the unknown, and continuing to forge my own path, is the scariest thing I've ever done. Yet I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

(If you'd like to learn more about career coaching and how the process might be beneficial for your job search, feel free to grab a free, 30-minute consultation with me. I'd love to learn more about your challenges and discuss how we might work together to move you through them!)

Sign up for email updates (no spam here, I promise). You'll also get a FREE copy of my guidebook, 7 Strategies to a Seamless Job Search, just for signing up.

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bill is a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. She coaches groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to their career. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.gabriellebill.com