Stop Selling Yourself Short in Your Job Search, with Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 324:

Stop Selling Yourself Short in Your Job Search, with Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

Airdate: December 1, 2021

Mac Prichard: 

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

When you apply for a job, you need to talk about the skills you offer and what you’ve accomplished. 

But because of modesty or other reasons, you may struggle with this. And that puts you at a disadvantage with your competitors. 

Carol Parker Walsh, Ph.D., is here to talk about how to stop selling yourself short in your job search. 

Dr. Parker Walsh is a career strategist, executive coach, and the founder of the Career Rebel Academy. She works with high-achieving women at midlife. 

And she joins us from Camas, Washington. 

Well, let’s jump right into it, Carol. Why do people sell themselves short during a job search? 

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Well, I believe the biggest reason they do that is because they don’t have a deeper understanding of all the skills that they bring to the table. Too often, we refer to our external things, such as our degree or a particular skill set, that maybe we have heard repetitively or read repetitively in job descriptions or what our own job descriptions require, but we haven’t sunk in a little deeper into the vast amount of skill sets that we actually have, and I think particularly with my clients, with women, is that they tend to always look at what they don’t have on their resume. 

So they look at job descriptions, they tend to scan through and see what’s missing from their end, as opposed to really leaning into what they’re reading actually applies to them in much deeper and more expansive ways. If they actually give themselves an opportunity to dig deeper into that massive amount of skill sets that they actually do bring to the table.   

Mac Prichard: 

And what stops people from understanding the skills that they do have?

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

They just don’t go deep enough. Like, for example, if a job description requires you to have data analytic skills, we often stop right there at the surface to say, yes, I either have those skills, or I don’t have those skills. But what we don’t do is dig deeper to say what is required to do data analytics? Well, there’s some critical thinking. You have to have the skill set of looking at the puzzle pieces in the bigger picture and learning how to put things together that look almost disparate and not alike, and seeing how they connect to each other. You have to have the ability to translate that information, so looking at things that may not make sense to others and to translate that, so they do make sense to most people.

And also, the ability to look at that information and forecast, to see things from a future perspective. So when we just look at the skill set, data analytics, for example, there are so many things that go into your ability to understand data, to look at data, to translate data, to talk about data. Also, communicative skills; how can you use that information? Are you able to motivate, inspire other people to follow or to change? Or to follow the information that you’ve discovered with that data?

So there’s so many layers to each skill. So, too often, what people do is they look superficially or just at the surface level of what’s being asked for, and what they don’t do is dig deeper. To say, well, before you count out, to say, I don’t have data analytics skills, to ask yourself, what goes into that? And what’s translatable? And what’s transferable? That’s what people are missing. 

They’re not digging deep to those natural gifts, those natural abilities, the things that they ignore or think are insignificant because they do it on a daily basis because they do it so rotely and so quickly and without even thinking that they think aren’t important. And they focus in on verbiage or titles, or constructs of certain titles or jobs or descriptions, as opposed to really leaning into what they have to offer and seeing how that translates into what people are actually saying on those job descriptions or in roles or responsibilities. 

So I think that’s where people are really missing. They’re not digging deep into what are the skill sets involved in that job or in that particular role, or in a particular line-item, and what they bring to the table in relationship to that.   

Mac Prichard: 

How do you dig deeper, Carol? And then, how do you talk about what you learn in a way that is persuasive to employers? 

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Yeah, so the best way to dig deeper is to take an inventory. You know, there’s a couple of things I have my clients do. 

First of all, I have them go back and make what I call a hundreds list, and to go back on everything that they’ve achieved, they’ve done, that they’ve been successful at, any work that they’ve done that they’re very proud of, any awards that they’ve won, anything that they have been celebrated or felt really proud of doing, and then to go back through that list and ask themselves, “What did it take for me to make that happen? What skills did I use? What gifts do I have? What are my – I like to call them my superpowers – like what are those things innately in me that I utilized to make those things come to bear?” and to look at that as actual skillsets and the things that you can bring to the table. List those things out and translate those into actually workable and doable skills.

And then also, to really go back and look at all of the things, your values, your interests, the things that really make you uniquely yourself, the things that people have often said that, “Man, you’re a great listener,” or that, “You’re really good at nurturing and supporting other people,” or whatever someone who’s putting a team together, they always look to you to step up and lead because they see you as a great visionary or someone who really motivates and cares and inspires other people. 

So we have to look for situations, a lot of times, outside of what we do at work, to gain more clarity of the skills that we can actually bring into the workplace. So by going back and starting by just looking at those things that you’ve done well, looking at those things that inspire and interest you, and to start dissecting and digesting which of those things actually speak to you. What skills were involved in doing those things? That can really help you understand and dig to that deeper level and layer of what skills you bring to the table.

In this economy, employers are looking for people, not just to have these technical skills, but someone who can really bring a human-centric approach. So, oftentimes, we don’t look at things like, you know, interpersonal skills or ability to work with others, or connecting with team members, or speaking with global influence, or having a deeper sense of problem-solving, and thinking futuristically, and being agile, and adaptive in terms of how you’re looking at things—being able to not just know technology, but how to utilize technology in a way that helps to advance something forward. 

And so, if we start taking a step back of just the technical things that we think we all have to know and start looking deeper at what it takes to make those things come to fruition, map that against all the things that you’ve probably been doing all of your life but haven’t even been paying attention to, you’ll get to the core of the things that you really have to bring to the table. You’ll start seeing the value of what you bring, as opposed to bifurcating out all of the amazing things you bring to the table; as opposed to just looking at what someone’s telling you they need; as opposed to you interpreting that to say this is what I bring to the table. 

I think too often, you know, I did a TEDx talk on fit versus belonging, and so often we dissect and take away pieces of ourselves because we either think they’re aren’t important, or they aren’t relevant, or they don’t, you know fit in a particular role, or company, or culture, or things of that nature, and it’s really important that we stop doing that and go back into the things that make us who we are. The things that we do very naturally, and to take stock of those, and to compare those to the things that we were looking for before.    

Mac Prichard: 

Well, let’s talk about that. You go through that exercise. You come up with that list. It’s probably gonna be a very long one when you’re done. How do you then decide what you’re gonna focus on and emphasize, and what to leave out, and what to keep? And then, how do you translate that into terms that are gonna be appealing to an employer?    

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Well, if you are clear about what it is that you want to do, the job that you’re going after, the position you want, the beautiful thing about having this depth and this wealth of information that you’ve dissected is that, then, you can go through that list and pull what’s required or what matches the particular position you’re going after. Or if you’re going for a promotion, or if you’re gonna switch or transition in your career, you can look through that list and ask yourself, which one of those things applies to the position that I’m going after right now, or to the industry that I’m trying to move into?

So it’s like giving you this pot of gold that you can then just dip out of when you need to. So you don’t need to, you know, be able to bring it all to the forefront at every given time. But you know how to bring that forth depending on the thing that you’re actually looking at and looking for. 

So that’s one of the key things is to, depending on the job that you’re looking at, the role that you’re going after, the industry, or shift, or whatever you’re doing, what’s required, that’s where you go back and pull from that pot of gold and be able to translate it over. 

The other way, in terms of really being able to leverage and translate into the work that you want to do and bringing it to the table, is really by using a lot of storytelling and narratives. Often, what we need to do is to explain to other people how we bring what we bring to the table. It’s not just bringing a laundry list and not just listing it out on your resume. But how can you inform an interviewer or a potential employer that you want to work with, or if you’re doing informational interviews, or even if you’re seeking a promotion, how do you tell the story of your skill sets in a way that makes them see that you’re the ideal person for that particular job? How do you create the narrative around the work that you’ve done to make it sing beautifully with the work that they’re looking for you to be able to do?

Today, I think employers are looking for people to be authentic and to bring all of themselves to the table and to see how, when they show up in the workplace, they’re going to make an impact and make a difference. So you have to be able to look at that pot of gold, all of those great nuggets of information, and gifts, and talents, and deep-rooted skills that you have, that didn’t just come out of a degree or come out of a job and be able to create a story that’s going to inform them that you’re the one that really needs to be here. 

Mac Prichard: 

Okay, well, let’s pause there, Carol. We’re gonna take a break, and when we come back, Dr. Carol Parker Walsh will continue to share her advice on how to stop selling yourself short in your job search. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Dr. Carol Parker Walsh.

She’s a career strategist, executive coach, and the founder of the Career Rebel Academy. Carol works with high-achieving women at midlife. 

Now, Carol, before the break, we were talking about why people sell themselves short in a  job search, and you talked about skills and the importance of understanding what you have, and how to talk about it, and at the end of the first segment, you were making the point about storytelling and how important it is to use storytelling techniques to talk about the skills you have. 

Tell us more about that and how a listener can act on that recommendation. 

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Yes, so branding and storytelling are key skills to have in your toolbox for any career management or job search effort that you’re making, and this is really about you communicating your unique value, what it is that you bring, and what differentiates you from fifty other people who may have similar skill sets. It’s the way you process it, the way that you’ve been able to utilize those skills, how you see them, the intertwinement of your values, of your interests, of the things that make you uniquely you, and that comes through storytelling. That’s why, you know, a lot of times, we get so focused on bullet-pointing things in our career that we forget that we have to be able to explain and share why what we bring to the table is unique, why it’s exactly what that employer’s been looking for. 

The way that you craft that story is such a way to say that, I know your job description says this, but let me tell you why I’m the perfect one for it. Let me share how through my past experiences and the past things that I’ve done before, my values, and my interests and the reason why I’m even applying for this is because of whatever, you know, that happened in your life, or whatever significant thing that prompted you to go after a certain degree or to work in a certain field, or to be in the particular industry. And when you link those things together, what you’re giving the employer is a full picture of you, and you’re telling them that you’re not just here for a paycheck, but you’re here to make a contribution, and that’s what storytelling does. 

I mean, we think about in our history, in our lives, the way that most information gets communicated and retained is through stories. We’ve used them from childhood, and they are so effective, even today, to really set yourself in the mind of the employer in a way, unlike other people who are just listing off and rattling off their resume.

So the best way to do that is to think about what is the story of your – not just your life, but why is who you are exactly what this employer needs? Right? What is it about you that makes you stand out above everyone else? Not just from skill sets but the things that you value, and your interests, and the things that you bring to the table? What differentiates you? That’s what you want to pull through to the story, and that’s what will set you apart from so many other people who are just listing out their resumes.      

Mac Prichard: 

Are there mistakes you see people make in telling their story that listeners should be aware of and avoid?  

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, the thing about storytelling is that brevity is key. So you have to know how to edit yourself, and you don’t want to – you’re not gonna come into an interview and say, “Well, I was born on a cold, rainy Sunday, you know, in the middle of October.” You really want to make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to the position, relevant to the employer, and that it really taps in and highlights certain skill sets and certain interests that are related to what you will bring and contribute to the table. So brevity is key.

I would say start by writing out the story and just put everything on paper and then start editing back so that you can really tell your story in about sixty seconds and no more than ninety seconds. So if you can time yourself to give the history in a way that makes sense, then that’s the best way that I could say. Think about editing and brevity, and make sure you’re hitting the key points of the skills, the interests, the values that you bring to the table. But the key is how they’re related to the position and to the employer.    

Mac Prichard: 

We’re talking about how to stop selling yourself short during a job search, and you mentioned the importance of skills and storytelling. 

What about confidence, Carol? How important a factor is confidence when people aren’t selling themselves effectively during a job search?  

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Yeah, that’s a great question. Mindset is everything, and that’s part of that confidence building. I always tell my clients that, really, this is about an inner game and an outer game, and the outer game is the techniques and the strategies. The things that we’ve been talking about. But that inner game, your mindset, your belief system in what you bring to the table makes a huge difference. 

The thing that sells a story is your belief in what it is that you’re saying. So it’s not just about putting something together that sounds good or looks good, but it’s that you believe it. That’s what will come across, and I always say confidence is a verb. Right? It’s something that you do with practice. It’s something that you do by just putting yourself out there. But it’s also something that you have to have some level of belief in, that it’s true, and that’s where confidence comes in. 

So when you think about you sharing, you know, we talked about earlier, instead of just saying leadership skills or data analytical skills, and looking deeper into the things that go into that skill set, you have to believe that those skills are valuable. When, you know, going back to the hundreds list, sometimes when my clients do write down all those great accomplishments, they don’t value them. They start judging which ones are better than the others, and we do that sometimes with the things that we bring to the table. Right? If we think we’re good listeners, we may judge that as not as important as someone who can really motivate and inspire other people. So we have to stop judging and ranking what we bring to the table and believe everything that we bring to the table is important, is valuable, and can make a contribution. 

So, too many people get stuck in thinking that, “Well, I do have these gifts, but they’re not as important as someone else’s gifts.” We have other people who think, “Well, yeah, I have those skill sets, but that was a long time ago nowadays it’s all about technology, and you know I’m too old, or I’m too out of date, or what I’ve learned, I learned twenty years ago. And now, what do I bring to the table?” You know, all of these kinds of negative thought processes are the things that hold us back from really standing in confidence with what we do bring to the table. 

Instead of saying that my things are outdated, we say, no, I have a long history of knowledge in something that allows me to contribute to conversations around innovation and creation because what I am bringing is important. Right? You know, even thinking everything old is new again. Right? Or things that we saw years ago tend to come back into fashion and style. 

So the things that we actually do know, regardless of age and position, whether we’re newly minted out of our graduate programs or college, or we’ve been doing something for the last ten or fifteen years, it’s all valuable. But the only person – if you don’t believe it’s valuable, you are not going to convince an interviewer, an employer, or anyone else that it’s valuable as well. 

So we have to stop being intimidated by the people around us. We have to stop judging ourselves by the people around us. And we have to start really deeply valuing what it is we bring to the table.   

Mac Prichard: 

What about credentials, Carol? Some people will look at a job posting, they’ll see a requirement for a college degree, for example, and they may have the skills and the experience, but they don’t have that degree. What do you advise your clients to do in a situation like that?    

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

I love it. That’s a great challenge. Listen, today, employers are not just looking at skills and degrees. They’re looking at the whole person, and this, again, goes back to that confidence and the storytelling. 

If you can show up at that interview and explain to an employer confidently, and with everything that you have, that the degree is not what matters, and this is what they’re looking for. These are the skills that they need. This is the type of person that they need to be in this role. This is the type of person that fits in their culture and fits in everything they’re trying to do here. You will convince that employer that they don’t need a degree.

Sometimes, they list these things in job descriptions because they think that’s relevant, or they think it would be good to have. But it’s not always a deal-breaker. So we have to stop looking at these listings, these itemized things that are listed in job descriptions and stop counting ourselves out, and instead, start leaning into the things that we do bring to the table. 

You know, like I said, in this day and age, employers, they’re looking more for a human-centric approach. They’re looking at the full person and what you bring to the table. They’re not looking at a degree because that really, in the grand scheme, shows that you’ve completed something but doesn’t mean you’re a good fit. It doesn’t mean that you’re committed, it doesn’t mean that you’re somebody who’s going to raise the bar and uplevel the organization because of your presence. A degree doesn’t say that, but you can, through really valuing what you bring to the table and creating with that confidence, really utilizing the storytelling as we talked about earlier to explain why you are the right man or woman for the job.  

Mac Prichard: 

Well, it’s been a great conversation. Now, tell us what’s next for you, Carol?  

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

Well, I am excited about a new program that I’ve launched recently called The Career Rebel Academy, and it’s designed for high achieving women at mid-life who are a little bit unsure about what they want to do next in their career. They’ve been centered on doing something amazing for so many years, and now, they’re thinking about doing something different. I often joke and say it’s usually for women who climb the ladder of success and realize they’ve climbed the wrong one, and now they’re thinking, “What do I do now?” And so, that’s a great container for women to come together and gain the clarity of what they want to do, build that confidence level, understand branding and storytelling, and really step into the next iteration of their life and career.    

Mac Prichard: 

Terrific, I know listeners can learn more about that program and your other services by visiting your website, carolparkerwalsh.com/career-rebel-academy, and we’ll be sure to include that URL in the show notes, too.

Now, Carol, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to stop selling yourself short in your job search? 

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh:

I would say, remember that you have so much more to offer than you even realize. So take the time and discover what that is, and the world will open up to you. 

Mac Prichard: 

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Next week, our guest will be Cathy Lanzalaco.

She’s the CEO of Inspire Careers. Her company helps new college graduates, executives, and professionals land jobs and create careers they love.

In many communities today, there is a labor shortage. To attract scarce workers, employers are offering signing bonuses and raising wages. 

But for some workers, the job search is very different. They aren’t getting interviews, much less offers. 

Join us next Wednesday when Cathy Lanzalaco and I talk about why you aren’t getting hired in a tight job market.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletters. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Will Watts. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

   

The skills listed in a job posting aren’t the only things you need to focus on in a job search. You bring a lot more to the table than merely a list of hard skills, says Find Your Dream Job guest, Dr. Carol Parker Walsh. Carol suggests making a list of every skill you have, figuring out what you care about the most, and then deciding which of those things match the job you want. Carol says that employers are looking for a whole person, not a list, and she shares how to bring your whole self into any interview situation. 

About Our Guest:

Dr. Parker Walsh is a career strategist, executive coach, and the founder of the Career Rebel Academy. She works with high-achieving women at midlife.

Resources in This Episode: