Interview with Kristin Sherry: Career empowerment coach

Kristin Sherry is a career consultant, three time author, international speaker, founder of Virtus Career Consulting and managing partner of YouMap LLC. She is the creator of the YouMap® career profile and helps people love Mondays through five areas of focus: YouMap® coaching and workshop certifications for career services and HR professionals, career discovery coaching, workshops, speaking, and writing. A former Learning & Development leader at a Fortune 20 company, Kristin managed the company’s learning strategy and coached leaders and their teams.Her third book, YouMap: Find Yourself. Blaze Your Path. Show the World! launched November 8th, 2018 and released as a #1 Amazon category best-seller in the US, Canada and the UK. More on Kristin’s work from myyoumap.com and virtuscareers.com

 

Congratulations on your latest book ‘’YouMap’’ You’ve written several career books. What would you say is unique about YouMap?

Thank you! YouMap is one-of-a-kind for a couple of reasons: The self-discovery process is based on the four pillars of career satisfaction. It can’t be found elsewhere because it’s a process I created. It has very effective exercises to help people uncover their strengths, values, motivating skills and interests based on my experience coaching about 2,000 people and it includes a real client case study to make it crystal clear for readers. Second, it includes expertise from not only me, but LinkedIn Top Voice Kerri Twigg, Job Scan’s #1 ranked Job Search Strategist, Kamara Toffolo, the pioneer of LinkedIn profile optimization, author Donna Serdula, Executive President of Global Goodwill Ambassadors and resume/LinkedIn profile expert Lisa Jones, and Patricia Edwards, a former HR executive with experience in Fortune 100 and 200 companies. It’s packed with expertise for job seekers, career changers, entrepreneurs, and even other coaches looking to use a more holistic discovery framework.

 

Seems career empowerment is more like a vocation for you? What about that area of work fascinates you so much?

Absolutely! I once dealt with weekly Sunday Dread that went on for years. I thought that was just part of work life but it’s unnecessary suffering and something I no longer deal with. Since I discovered I could take control of my own career – based on what was most important to me – I have been on a mission to help others do the same. For the longest time I believed other people were going to open doors for me or promote me. And so I waited for that to happen and just worked hard in the meantime, which got me nowhere.

 

You had a strong mentor and role model early on in your mother who went from high school drop out to CEO and whose experience informed the strategies you shared in your First book ‘Follow your star’. One of those strategies for maximum career success one was ‘openness to feedback’. What’s the best way to get real, high quality candid feedback? 

I think it’s important to let others know you’re serious about your own personal and professional growth and that they play a role in helping you achieve it. We have blind spots, so we’re dependent on outside perspectives to truly have the full picture of our strengths and weaknesses. A great way to get good feedback is by asking good questions:

  • What is going well? (This could be related to performance, your relationship with the other person, or both).
  • What could I do differently, better, or more of?
  • What is one thing you think I should change?

 It’s hard to ask these questions because the answers to the last two questions might sting. But it’s necessary if we want to grow.

 

Lifelong learning is another one of the success strategies. How does one actively do this because it’s quite easy to pay lip service regarding this?

There are so many ways people can learn, but my favorites beyond conventional study and reading are:

  • Seek first to understand – Be curious and ask questions more than you make statements when interacting with people.
  • Diversify your life – Spend time with people who are different than you.
  • Travel – This isn’t possible for everyone, but travel is a great way to broaden your perspective.

 

How have you made decisions about which directions to take your career in, what learning was required and how you knew these were right?

It wasn’t until I spent time evaluating what was most important to me that I started to get this right. My values are now the foundation for my career decisions. Those values have informed my personal mission for my life. I run all career decisions, whether to join a board, take a client, or agree to a collaboration, through my values-based mission, which is to help people love Mondays.

 

In your work what have you seen as the most problematic for women in terms of making it to the highest levels of their career/organization and what type of support works/accelerates the journey?

This is a complex topic with so many variables, so I’ll focus on the top two that I believe are central to the issue. I think women deal with guilt more than men do about giving 100% both at work and at home. And so our career decisions are often made considering what’s best for the people in our lives. I think more men are starting to think this way, but in recent history men didn’t have these same kinds of constraints.

Secondly, it takes a certain level of assertiveness to climb to the highest levels, and assertive behavior is not expected nor generally rewarded in women. So it’s a combination of internal and external barriers. Some are self-imposed, and others are externally imposed.

 

As a top career consultant, it’s quite likely that some would expect you to have the perfect career. What pressures come with the work you’re in and how do you handle them?

I do feel like I have the perfect career (for me) but, of course, you’re right that there are pressures. I must continuously reprioritize how I’m going to spend my time to maximize my efforts because there are a lot of distractions that compete for my time. It’s also a continual challenge to nurture the relationships in my life as my work becomes more visible to more people. I receive a lot of collaboration requests, especially related to my YouMap® career profile, so I need to discern when to say no.

 

Job dissatisfaction is still quite low according to research. You were a leader in a Fortune 20 company. In your experience, what approaches work to help people take charge of their professional development and success at work?

First, realize you’re in charge of your own career. No one else. That means you need to track your accomplishments, be your own champion in your performance review, find a mentor, apply principles of their successes to your own career, and hold your limiting beliefs captive. If you don’t believe in yourself, how will anyone else? Next, self-awareness is crucial. If you don’t understand what you do best that others need most – your unique value contribution – you can’t know where you’re going to have the most impact and where to place your career ladder, so to speak.

 

How do you see the career coaching industry evolving in coming years in terms of what you anticipate people will need to grow their careers?

I believe some employment trends are going to create the greatest disruption for coaches and job seekers. We’re going to see a shortage of workers with the right skills. Also, the gig economy is growing, which is contract and freelance work. So, people will be looking for contracts more frequently. Most of the jobs in shrinking occupations are now service positions like secretaries and data-entry work. Foreign outsourcing, automation and other technology advances are creating this shrinkage. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also changing the future of work.

AI and automation are set to impact nearly every facet of the workforce in some way, but two industries that are probably going to see big changes are human resources and finance.  New AI tools are complementing people’s skills in both HR and finance. Chat bots for employee onboarding and AI in recruiting to reduce bias are a couple of examples. You will also see changes like “robo” advisors and AI in financial management to help people make better financial decisions. All of this means that both those in the job market – and those advising them – need to keep their skills sharp and relevant to avoid being left behind.

 

For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development please go to www.verangoma.com or http://j.mp/verabooks

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