Inside: Career Sweet Spot Q&A with Career Strategist, Entrepreneur, and Author, Tamara Raymond.
We’ve met yoga studio owners, photographers, authors, and cooks here in the Career Sweet Spot Q&A series, but we’ve never done a Q&A with another Career Coach!
Fortunately, that ends today! Meet Tamara Raymond, career strategist, and leadership coach. I’ll let Tamara tell you more about her story, but I promise you’re going to learn a ton and be inspired by her work.
With no further ado…
Let’s Meet Tamara Raymond
Becca: Hi Tamara! For those who don’t know you yet, can you tell us about yourself?
Tamara: I am a certified leadership coach, career strategist, and president of Innovative Management Consulting (IMC). I have been providing professional, career, and leadership development to adults, emerging leaders, and teens determining their career paths, for over 15 years.
My work is about inspiring people to be themselves and explore new options that work best for them. The main focus is to guide and champion others to be who they are and make their unique contribution in their own way.
To achieve this end, I have enjoyed several roles throughout my professional tenure to support this work. They include coach, corporate management consultant, HR subject-matter-expert, organizational change leader, and teen career-guide author.
My credentials include a BA in Psychology from Lawrence University; a Masters in Organizational Sciences (Management) and Graduate Certificate in Leadership Coaching from The George Washington University; SPHR designation; and certification in The Birkman Method®, a leading behavioral and personality assessment.
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What is Careering?
Becca: Let’s talk Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career! Where did the concept of the book come from and how did it all come together?
This project arose from a desire to help students and young people in their career journeys. I wanted to offer helpful information that many of us adults wish we had when starting to explore career options. I felt if I could use knowledge from my mistakes and those of others I’ve worked with, then it was well worth any investment!
I determined over time that my mission is to help others step up and take charge of their future. At the same time, I wanted to bring fun, curiosity, and adventure to the process of discovering what’s next in life for them. My hopes were to help decrease anxiety for young people; save time and money wasted by misdirected majors or areas of study, and choose the appropriate undergraduate institution right for them. So, in 2017, I decided to actualize my passion for career exploration done right—or what I call careering—with the release of the Careering pocket guidebook.
It is a joy to be able to weave together my career experience, academic journey, and passion for coaching-mentoring youth by sharing this knowledge. The main objective is to direct students, teens, and young adults in aligning their passions with possible career paths and creating ways to positively contribute to society while earning a living. At the same time, it is to help parents and guardians feel comfortable about the careering process and learn how best to support their teen throughout.
My overall desire is to bring a sense of ease and purpose to anyone at any stage of career exploration and create a positive perspective about the future.
The Entrepreneurial Journey
Becca: How about your work at Innovative Management Consulting? How did your business get started and how do you serve clients?
Tamara: At the time, I was leaving an executive human resources position to pursue my graduate degree. Concurrently, I was looking to take on a new career challenge—whatever that happened to look like. The president of the company I was leaving serendipitously asked if I would continue on as a consultant. I happily agreed, which is how IMC got started.
It definitely turned out to be one of those situations where my being open and willing to step into something different worked out really well. It has been truly beneficial, as here I am 15 years later doing what I love: Partnering with aspiring individuals to tap into and enhance the leader within.
The individuals I have partnered with both in and outside the US consist of business owners, employees, executives, corporate teams, stay-at-home adults, recent graduates, high-school students and young leaders. Their professions and industries have ranged from human resources, coaching, and project management; to engineering, IT, utility services, accounting, and finance; to arts, education, interior design, and nonprofits. Specifically for young people, I offer unique insight into how to excel both academically and in their chosen profession through awareness of their goals, interests, and talents in a purposeful and focused way.
The beauty of being Birkman certified is understanding that everyone takes in information differently; and that we all have valid and varying approaches to our work. To reflect this diversity, I have grown my services over time to include one-on-one coaching engagements, leadership development programs, behavioral assessments, online courses, and of course the award-winning book. The purpose is to offer tools and resources for everyone—including free information through my topical blog articles, YouTube videos, and social media posts.
Finding Your Career Sweet Spot
Becca: How did you find your career sweet spot (the intersection of your passions, strengths, and value you add to others) as a career strategist, author, and business founder?
Tamara: The key point I want to convey about finding a career sweet spot for anyone is that the path is often not a direct one. And I am no exception.
Thankfully though, I quickly came to realize that every careering step took me in a direction where I was learning, growing, understanding and gaining more clarity about where I was supposed to be. Initially, I thought that looked like a traditional HR role. However, as time passed and I took on various other roles, I began to realize that I am passionate about helping people achieve their goals and living the life they love.
So, I determined over time that my true vision had more to do with coaching others to step up and take charge of their future, as I mentioned earlier, with responsibility and accountability. But also to offer a meaningful way to achieve these goals with fun, ease, and a sense of purpose during this process of enrichment, growth, and just plain learnings about yourself, your loves and your future wants.
Tamara’s Proudest Moment
Becca: What has been the proudest moment in your career?
Tamara: Actually, one proud career moment has been getting the book published, which has been a genuine labor of love and purpose.
However, my proudest career moment has definitely been hearing feedback from individuals who have read the book and completed their Birkman assessment. They share how positively and profoundly Careering the pocket guide has impacted their lives. To me, this has been priceless. Plus, these shares have come from parents and educators, in addition to the high-schoolers and teens themselves.
In particular, I will never forget the first time I received an actual testimonial from a young professional client thanking me for the impact the Careering process along with the Birkman assessment has made in her life. This was my heart project. It has made all my hard work and effort worth it and more!
Tamara’s Biggest Challenge
Becca: What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
Tamara: To be perfectly honest, it was actually writing the book then speaking about it publicly.
In fact, true story: my friend started laughing uncontrollably when she found out I wrote a book…and really wrote the book, not hire someone. Frankly, if I were familiar back then with ghostwriters, I might not have gone the route I did! I was also trying to capture as much information in as few pages as possible while still delivering on my commitment. My aim was to be user-friendly, easy-to-use, and unintimidating for teens—so, it is small but packs a powerful punch.
It was not only challenging to write the book but also to share and get the book out there to help as many teens and career-seeking explorers as possible. A friend and colleague aptly pointed out, if I simply write the book, am I fulfilling what I said I wanted to do? The thing is, I am a true introvert by nature. So, the fact that I am out there publicly talking about the book speaks volumes to how important this work is to me. It is certainly not something with which I normally feel comfortable or that I naturally do—it is definitely stepping outside of my comfort zone!
But I do all these things because I have a particular commitment and passion for what I am doing. And this energy, in turn, fuels my drive behind these efforts. The reality is that it helps to be truly interested or passionate about whatever it is you are working on. If you start from this space, it makes it easier to get interested in the process. And reaching the end results is priceless.
What’s New in Recruiting for 2021?
Becca: Let’s talk about trends in recruiting. Based on your experience in HR, recruiting, and as a career strategist, what are you seeing in the world of hiring right now that folks should be prepared for?
Tamara: That is a great question, especially given our present times. In the wake of the global pandemic, we have all seen related changes to the way we work and its impact. For example, trends such as work-from-home have increased. As such, companies are a lot more open and willing to hire for remote work today.
There are a number of other changes to take into account. As new technology and platforms are showing up, so are new job options. You can see this trend in the growing opportunities within technical fields, from data scientists to digital marketing managers. I liken it to the shift from taxi cabs to Uber and Lyft as the preferred method of transportation. The key is to stay informed. Do your research and explore.
What’s more, job-seekers need to keep in mind that there are also more video interviews. It is especially the case for people who are applying for remote roles that are out-of-state. In fact, video interviews have fast become the norm, and I don’t see this trend changing. For one thing, it opens up the pool of potential candidates, especially for companies who are willing to offer more telework options and 100% remote work positions.
In addition, more and more people are turning to professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and Alignable, to connect with one another. So, it is a great idea to use these platforms to grow your professional network beyond your smaller in-person network.
People are also now choosing to conduct informational interviews via video and phone call in place of meeting in person for coffee.
An important side note to remember is that organizations are now regularly checking social media accounts of job applicants more than ever. They look for your online presence and to get a better holistic view of you as a candidate. It can often count as much as what your references say about you. I will be addressing many of these points in a blog article series on which I am currently working. It focuses on how to navigate your career in a post-pandemic world and is due out later this year into next.
How to Get Unstuck in Your Career
Becca: If you were speaking with a mid-career client who is feeling stuck in their career, what would be your best piece of advice?
Tamara: The best piece of advice is this – Re-explore your options and be open, curious, and creative no matter what stage of your career.
Believe it or not, many of us have interests we may not even recognize. While others know their interests but aren’t aware of related professions they may find fulfilling. So, try out new interests, skills, and types of work. Find ways to see, touch, feel, and hear them. Really take time to try out these new possibilities. Note that the principles of careering are the same, no matter what your age. In fact, I remind people that the Careering pocket guide’s process can be used over and over throughout your career life.
In addition, sometimes potential jobs, professions, and careers aren’t what we think they are. That is why it is so important to do your research and explore. For example, you may work in the public sector but are considering a transition into the private sector. So, it can be key to speak to people in your network. From that, you may be able to gain clarity around the options you are seeking. At the mid-career level, it may take the form of informational interviewing instead of internships or shadowing. The gist here is to consider reaching out; connecting with your network, and exploring any and all possibilities and potential opportunities. It can and should be a very exciting time of new career adventuring for a refreshed stage in life!
Becca: How do you help folks who are hesitant about networking get comfortable with the idea, and then get started?
Tamara: It is understandable to be hesitant about networking the way most people are told to approach it. However, I tell individuals that they can—and should—view networking and making professional connections through a slightly different lens.
For example, I tend to think of networking in two categories: traditional networking and creative networking. People seem to find this differentiation and shift in perspective quite helpful. An example of traditional networking may be dressing up in business attire and attending an interviewing or recruiting event where you go to hand out your resume. This type of event has its value and can sometimes yield results.
However, where I’ve seen the most results is in what I call creative networking. This type of networking tends to be more readily accessible, natural, and far less intimidating for most people. The reason is that you connect with people in social circles in which you regularly take part.
For instance, you could be on a sports team or meet regularly with a certain social interest group. They are essentially the people you interact with and who you may not readily think to ask or share what you’re up to. The reason for that could be that your relationship is siloed. What I mean is that you may play tennis or soccer with them, so your conversation tends to be centered around that sport. As such, it may not occur to you to share what you may be interested in with your career or if you’re looking for job opportunities.
The reality is that networking is an integral part of our career journey. So, I encourage my clients to think outside the box. And I also suggest that they re-frame their thoughts around it. For example, if we think of networking as needing to actively meet “x” number of people, it can be extremely overwhelming. But when we take a step back and look at it as a one-on-one connection with individuals who can help us be the inspired contribution we are looking to be, it can make the world of difference!
I Love ALL of this from Tamara and I’m so glad she was willing to stop by and share her wisdom.