Finding a fulfilling and better-paying job is never easy, but in these times when the way people work is changing rapidly, it’s especially challenging. Job searching – regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed, have been fired, phased out, or quit your job, can negatively affect your confidence, health, and mental well-being.
A crucial part of succeeding at finding the right job opportunity and getting hired is maintaining your confidence and following through on the right strategy. This is where professionals like virtual job search coach Stacey Davidson can save you valuable time as well as blood, sweat, and tears by helping you uncover your strengths and stand out from the crowd of other candidates to land the job you want and that makes you feel valued.
At Lensa, we’re dedicated to harnessing job search technology to empower individuals to find and work for the employers that best fit their skills, occupation, working style, values, and goals – so we were immensely thankful for the opportunity to chat with Stacey about her process for professional path-finding and her nearly 100% success rate in fulfilling her clients’ job search goals.
Q&A With Stacey Davidson
In this Lensa Q&A session, founder and CEO of Virtual Job Search Coach Stacey Davidson shares her step-by-step process for helping people find their path to landing a more fulfilling and potentially better-paying job – and have the career they truly want.
Who is Stacey Davidson?
Stacey Davidson is founder and CEO of Virtual Job Search Coach. As a certified professional in career management, career coach, job search strategist, resume writer, interview expert, and recruiter with more than 25 years in HR, recruitment, and business management, she helps individuals determine, pursue, and land their dream job.
Lensa: Stacey Davidson, welcome to Lensa Q&A. In your LinkedIn bio, you mention your “step-by-step approach that not only shows your job seeker clients that a better situation exists, but equips them with the confidence and necessary tools to make that change and empowers them with the critical knowledge and strategies to find and land their ideal job.” Could you describe this process for us?
Stacey Davidson: Yes, absolutely. The people that I work with are usually coming from a variety of situations. Some are employed. Some are unemployed. Some have recently been fired or laid off. Some are in a job, but are just unhappy in their current situation. They may be feeling trapped or like they don’t have any options. And some have been in the same job for 10 or more years and are really feeling like they’re stuck and they don’t know how to move forward or don’t know what options they have. I come from a place of belief that life is too short to be in a job that you aren’t happy in. We spend more hours per day in our job than anything else we do, more than the time we spend with our family, with our friends.
For many of us, more than sleeping. And I’m a huge advocate that everyone has the ability and the opportunity to change their circumstances. But sometimes they need a little bit of help from someone that can guide them through, figuring out how to make that change happen. My process is, I first meet with that person – typically virtually. Everything I do is online or by phone. I talk about their personal situation, their circumstances, their financial needs, their likes, wants, dislikes. I go through a number of things to help them or really just help me to figure out what is their situation, what are their needs? Because every person is different. We’re not all cookie cutters. We all have different concerns, different needs, different circumstances, different things that influence us.
And depending on the outcome of that initial discussion, I then run through a series of assessments if necessary. So sometimes career assessment skills assessments, value assessments, personality tests, whatever I feel is necessary to help discover what their interests are, what their natural aptitudes are, what their strengths are.
And then that helps to guide us through determining what are the best options for them. And then we set an action plan from there. Sometimes we discover that a complete career change is necessary, which requires retraining in some cases. Other times we determine that it’s just a job or industry change that’s necessary or is the best option. Then I equip them with the tools that they need, which will be things like a targeted resume and cover letter, LinkedIn profile.
The nice thing is I do all of that for them. I do the heavy lifting there. So they don’t have to worry about that. They can sit back, relax, let me do the hard work. Then I just design a customized job search action plan for them because everyone is different. Again, when I’m working with someone that’s an extrovert, for example, the thought of picking up a phone and making a cold call or going to a networking event can be a piece of cake for them.
For someone that’s shy or more introverted, the thought of approaching somebody or going to a networking event can be terrifying to them in some cases. So I come up with strategies that work for them that are going to fit with what they’re comfortable with, but sometimes I have to push them out of their comfort level a little bit as well. I teach some strategies on how to find their ideal jobs. I teach them how to approach employers.
And then finally, I’m a behavioral-based improvement specialist, so I prep them for some of the toughest interview situations and questions so that they feel confident going into an interview and are able to talk about themselves well and help them to stand out above their competition. Because let’s face it, the job market is competitive and always will be.
Lensa: How do you help employees and outplacement programs handle negative effects on their confidence, self-worth, and overall mental health?
Stacey Davidson: That’s a great question. I think most people, when they lose a job, regardless of the reason, regardless of if they’ve been fired or terminated or laid off, that’s a hit to someone’s self-confidence. Many people define themselves by their career or by their job or the role that they play in a company or on a team.
So when you suddenly are let go, that makes you question your value and your self-worth. I think sometimes people also develop a false sense of security in their job. If we get along great with our boss and our coworkers, if we do good work, if we’re well-liked, we have good performance reviews, we tend to feel safe in our job.
And running a business is not that simple. Now, sometimes tough decisions have to be made. And a lot of people I work with are shocked when all of a sudden they’re terminated. Nine times out of 10, they don’t see it coming. And so that makes them question everything. Why me? What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t that good enough?
Why did they let me go and not my coworker that’s been here less time than I have? It raises all kinds of concerns. I think the other thing is not to mention the fear and the anxiety, the anger, the resentment, all of those things that come up where they’re asking themselves, oh, my goodness, how am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to explain to a future employer that I’ve been terminated? You know what? If no one else will hire me.
There are all sorts of questions that come out about this that create insecurity for people. There’s a myriad of emotions and dozens of questions that go through someone’s mind when they lose their job. And again, it’s different for everyone. I don’t use a cookie-cutter approach. I don’t believe in those. I don’t believe in set programs because frankly, there is no one size fits all. We’re all different. We’re all unique. We all have different concerns and needs. So everything I do is very customized, just to suit my clients. I’m very empathetic and I’m very good at reading people and assessing their situation. How are they feeling and then determining what areas are they feeling most insecure about? And then I can respond accordingly in terms of supporting them to see that losing a job isn’t necessarily a death sentence. It might feel like that in the moment to them, but it’s really not.
There is life after being fired or laid off. And I have strategies and tactics that I go through to help that person regain their confidence. Something I would do, for example, is create what I call a rockstar resume, because a resume is a marketing document. And when a person has a tool that showcases their skills, their experience, their value, something that they can feel proud of and distribute to employers, that naturally increases their confidence. And I think also when people see on paper the value that they can bring to an employer, that really helps again, with that feeling of self-worth.
Many people I’ve worked with have been in the same job for 10, 20, sometimes 30 years, so they haven’t had to look for a job in a really long time. And they’re feeling afraid and insecure. They’re wondering, what do I do? Where do I start? And so I’m not so. So I’m there not only to support and encourage them, but also to teach them how to effectively retrain if necessary. I provide them with the tools and resources and teach them how to present themselves to future employers, how to perform well in interviews, how to explain the job loss and basically go through all of those things that really, truly help to build their confidence.
Lensa: Do you apply insights gained from your consulting work to help your job seeker clients?
Stacey Davidson: Yes. Here’s one of my trade secrets. So as well as being a full time career coach, I am also an HR consultant and on a part-time basis, I do contract recruitment. Basically with small businesses and nonprofit organizations that either don’t have in-house HR or in-house recruitment or recruitment knowledge. Or maybe they even have a small budget, so they can’t afford to hire a full-fledged recruitment agency.
And part of the reason I continue doing that in my business is so that I can keep my fingers on the pulse in terms of what’s happening in the labor market. What are the most current strategies and best practices when it comes to recruiting and hiring? What are employers looking for? What are they struggling with?
So it really helps me to stay current. And then I’m able to take that knowledge and apply it when working with my job seeker clients so I can then give them insights into how to look for work, how to apply for jobs, how to approach employers, what skill areas they need to improve based on what employers are looking for nowadays, how to respond to employer pain points. And I think it really gives my job seeker clients an edge in landing their next job faster.
Lensa: You have an almost 100% client success rate in finding jobs. What do you attribute that to?
Stacey Davidson: Well, I knew you were going to ask you that because I get asked that question quite frequently. There’s a bigger story behind it. The short answer would be that it’s my passion for helping people to succeed and helping people find success and joy in their work, as you heard me mention earlier. I’m a big believer that life is short. And if we have to spend more time in our job than anything else we do. I think it’s really important that we do something that we love, something that we enjoy, that we take pride in, that we feel good about and feel that we contributed to something in a meaningful way and in a positive environment. For me, that passion comes from a place of personal tragedy.
If you if you read my personal story on my website, you’ll learn that in 2009, I lost my sister suddenly. And the day after her memorial, my biological father died. I was pregnant with my son Benjamin at the time. And three and a half months later, I lost him. And so I had spent 12 years trying to have a baby, you know, seven miscarriages. And after losing Benjamin, you know, I’ll be honest, a huge, huge part of me died when he did. And I really at that point lost my will to live. The only thing that kept me going was that I had lost a family member to suicide years earlier. And I had promised my mother I would never, ever put her through that. And so when I was going through grief counseling, I remember telling the counselor one day that I had no purpose.
My life was over. Everything that I’d been working towards had come to an end. And I remember her asking me a question. And that became the turning point for me. And she knew that I was an artist by hobby. I like to paint. And so she said, Stacey, if I gave you a blank canvas, do you think you could paint a whole new picture, a whole new future for yourself, different than the ones that you had mentioned before? And I left there and I thought about it and I thought, you know, I’m going to take this on as a challenge. I’m going to try to figure out some way of creating a new purpose for myself. And so I thought about all of the skills that I had and the knowledge and my talents. And I also needed to create something where I could channel my motherly instincts for lack of a better term into a way that helps people. And in a way that would give me satisfaction as well. And give me purpose again. So I ended up retraining. I got my designation as a professional career manager. And I completely rebranded my business to focus solely on being a career coach.
And here I am 12 years later, doing what I love. I’ve helped over 1,300 people succeed in their careers in landing their desired job. That continually fuels my passion to help people find that success. Being unhappy in a job or losing a job for many people is a tragedy and it creates grief. And that’s something that I can certainly relate to.
And so I think I bring empathy and genuine care and concern for the people that I work with. I want to see them come out the other side of losing their job or the other side of a career change that they’re afraid to make. And I love being part of that process of guiding them through that and supporting them and then celebrating that victory with them when they find that success. So I would say that’s what really attributes to my almost 100% success rate.
Lensa: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking for a new professional opportunity in 2021?
Stacey Davidson: Oh, my goodness. That’s a loaded question. I could talk for hours on that subject. If I had to come up with something in two minutes, I would have to say, the job market is competitive always. Regardless of how many more people there are than jobs, as an example, pre-pandemic. We’ve all gone through that worldwide. The average job posting received 250 applications and only two percent typically get shortlisted for an interview. That’s five people out of 250, and since the pandemic, there’s been significant job loss. Companies have had to downsize.
So in my opinion and as a recruiter, I think that the average number of job applications proposed now is probably higher, again, depending on industry and type of job. So if you’re applying for your dream job or your ideal job, you must do everything right to get into that top 2%. So you need to have a rockstar resume, a compelling cover letter that demonstrates why you’re the best for the position, for the company, for the team. You have to be prepared to knock it out of the park in selling yourself when it comes to the interview. Out of those shortlisted candidates, you have to stand out above the crowd by demonstrating why you’re exceptional, why the influence of how you are above all of those other candidates. And, based on my 30-year career in recruitment and in HR, I’ve interviewed thousands of people and very few do that well, naturally. So this probably sounds a bit like a sales pitch. And that’s not my intention.
But I recommend that everyone who’s considering a job change or a career change, someone who’s unemployed or who’s struggling to land a job. Invest in yourself by hiring a professional career coach to help you. You don’t have to go out alone. Make sure you hire someone that’s reputable, that’s experienced, that has a high client success rate. A 1-2 weeks salary investment will pay for itself in dividends in terms of what it saves you in time, lost income, frustration, stress in looking for and landing that next job. That would probably be my one piece of main advice for anyone right now.
Lensa: So that ties in well with my last question, which is where can people find out more about you?
Stacey Davidson: Well, I’m on just about every social media network that’s out there. I’m on Instagram. I have a website, Virtualjobsearchcoach.com. All of my social media is Virtual Job Search Coach. It’s pretty easy to find me. I have a YouTube channel as well, where I put up videos with tips on everything from job searching techniques and strategies, how to answer tough questions, how to handle the question about what I do, how do I explain to an employer that I’ve been fired? And that’s one of my most popular videos. I get a lot of comments on that one. And there’s resume tips on there. There’s a little bit of everything. It’s still quite new and I’m quite excited about that. And visit my website. You can reach out to me through that. If anyone wants to work with me, I’d love to work with them.
Lensa: We fully endorse that. Stacey Davidson, thank you so much.