By Emily Merrell
The word “authenticity” has been tossed around a ton in branding – but companies are losing touch of what authenticity really is. Now let’s take the word “authentic” and apply it to you. What makes you authentic, compared to your work colleague? Authenticity can get even more lost when you mesh it with careers – how can one be a part of the other? Meet Jennifer Fink. She’s the founder of Bay Area Fink Development, an organization that strives to help their customers reboot and reassess their careers. Learn more about Jennifer Fink’s development process and how she is solving the biggest career search problems.
SDS: As an SF based career coach, what are some of the biggest career search problems you help solve?
JENNIFER FINK: Discovering a new career path. Finding the right opportunities. Searching for a job effectively. Communicating confidently. Negotiating the things they care about. Most people I talk to feel either unhappy, unfulfilled, or undervalued in their job but are not sure what else to do or how to get to a new career path. I help clients through the career development process from start to finish. As an authentic career coach, I care about helping clients get clear on what career paths will be authentic for them. To me, an authentic career is one that taps into the values you care about, the interests that light you up and the strengths that you bring to the table. Once we have some ideas in mind, then I help them gain the confidence and necessary tools to navigate their job search as effectively as possible.
SDS: What are some strategies (specifically for SF) that people should use when hunting for a job?
JF: My number one piece of advice is to reframe their job search strategy from a reactive to a proactive job seeker. There are so many companies to choose from, especially in the Bay Area. Most people don’t realize that there are 29 million businesses in the US and 99.7% of them have 500 or fewer employees. Many job seekers focus on large companies they can recall quickly or current job postings. Imagine how many times someone has told you that they wanted to work for Google, Apple, or Facebook. The result here is that job seekers end up spending a lot of time applying to the most competitive jobs and then feel discouraged when they don’t hear anything back.
I help my clients take control of their job search by developing a targeted company list and then by learning strategies to prioritize and execute on that list. This creates more authentic and less competitive opportunities for each candidate. That being said, if you still want to apply to Google, awesome, but let’s do it strategically! One of my current clients described this process like this: “I feel more than proactive, I feel empowered that I am in control now.” These are the kind of takeaways I want my clients to have in working with me and my company.
SDS: As a career coach, how do you help individuals gain clarity during the job search?
JF: I help my clients gain clarity in several ways during the job search, but the first step is to gain a high-level overview of their unique situation. I developed my Authentic Career Accelerator Model to help individuals understand the landscape of the career development process, review where they fall within the model, and see a clear plan of action from where they are now to where they want to go. This process is very grounding for my clients and helps them gain the necessary confidence and knowledge to get unstuck and start moving forward.
SDS: What are some exercises every individual should do to stay prepared for a job search?
JF: Individuals should absolutely be practicing their communication skills, starting fairly early in their search process. Most candidates that I see have significantly underprepared in this area. It makes sense. We communicate frequently on a daily basis, so it’s easy to overestimate our ability to “wing it”. In the majority of cases, however, this does not lead to a good interview experience and candidates internalize that there’s something wrong with them. I want clients to know that the problem is not them, but that they didn’t use the right strategies to prepare.
I have a unique approach to interview preparation where I help clients gain clarity in both depth and breadth, understanding what they are applying for and how their unique contributions and experience match that opportunity. Another strategy I use for interviews is to have my clients talk out loud as much as possible. In the car, in the shower, walking down the street. There is nothing to build your confidence like walking down the street talking confidently to yourself and not giving a bleep what anybody thinks about it. That’s the confidence I want my clients to have when they walk into an interview.
SDS: You’re hosting a series of workshops in SF focused on the job search, what can attendees expect to take away during these sessions?
JF: I’m hosting a class this fall called “Kickstart Your Authentic Career: An exploration into what you want to do.” This class is all about creating clarity around each person’s unique strengths, values, and interests – then learning how to clarify potential career paths out of that reflection. One of the things that really irks me about self-reflection work is that it can be really big and lofty, with little guidance.
For example, when you open a career reflection book and it asks you the question, “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” That is the moment where I would throw that book out the window. How frustrating! If people knew the answer to that question they wouldn’t be reading the dang book in the first place. I feel really strongly about helping clients take this reflection and turn it into concrete action steps forward. That’s what this class is about!