If you read yesterday’s installment, you know that I am sharing my career search process and story with readers. Previously I discussed how I reached my decision to pursue opportunities, my timeline, and taking action. Today I share about my decision to create an “Advisory Board” of sorts.
My Advisory Board consisted of several individuals and from many walks of life. There were two friends, two colleagues who I have worked with on projects but were not employed (nor ever were employed) with my current employer, two senior executives who have been through many career changes, and most importantly, my spouse.
Friends: I chose to have two friends on my Advisory Board as I felt I needed individuals who were grappling with the same career questions and were in the same life stage. The friends were asked to act as a sounding board, provide advice, share insights, challenge my assumptions, and provide honest feedback. These two individuals may have been my toughest Board members as they were dealing with the same issues and had ‘skin’ in the game because of our friendships.
Having advisers who are in the same place in life was a blessing. They helped me see that my angst was not unusual, the questions/doubts/struggles I was facing were shared by all in our age group, and there would be an outcome from this process (both had been through similar searches in the previous year – one stayed at his current role and was re-energized while the other left for another employer and was thankful for that path).
Colleagues: It was good for me to ask two individuals with whom I have worked to serve on my Board. Both were not local, so emails and calls were more the norm with a face-to-face meeting every 3 months or so. These members of my Board provided an outside perspective. We were not friends that would hang out, they had never worked at my employer (current or future), in short – they provided very unbiased insights.
These two individuals were the ones who pressed me the hardest about why I was leaving my current role. Both have incredible respect for my employer and will continue to work with Notre Dame in the future, so they pushed me hard to think through if leaving was my best option. It was healthy to have advisers who had nothing to do with South Bend or Notre Dame in my circle.
Senior Executives: This group contained three senior executives who had been through several career transitions in their lifetimes. Their insights about items I should be considering into the future (ex: city I could live in until retirement, college for the kids, etc.), their stories of struggles and successes, and their examples of their lives working out well (not perfectly) were encouraging.
These senior executives were not randomly chosen. Just as with the Colleagues, the Executives were individuals with whom I had developed a mentoring relationship over several years. They could be counted on for honest feedback through a perspective of having been through similar processes during their careers.
Spouse: For me, I could not go through this process without the support of my spouse. The decisions I faced affected not only me, they affected an entire family. Because of this, my spouse and I needed to be on the same page as to which course of action to pursue.
It was also important to have my wife involved as she knows me better than anyone and could provide insights that others could not. She also could provide a kind word on those days of frustration. This process was not a time to go it alone.
While I spoke with many more people than just my “Advisory Board” during my search, it was this group that I made regular contact and who had agreed to be more involved than an occasional referral. What started out with a phone call and email (or two) with an update on my applications, became weekly updates when I proceeded to the final rounds and offer stages. The job search can be a slow, frustrating, and humbling process that can turn into a frenzied few weeks of hyper-activity. Having an Advisory Board allowed me to never feel alone in the process. I always had an outlet – and the outlet was never the same person again and again – to help me through the process.
I hope others will consider creating an Advisory Board to assist with their job search. The support and advice can help during an incredibly stressful time.
Tomorrow: How I used my Advisory Board