Recently, I heard from Katrina, a French-born marketing assistant living in Ohio, who has spent most of her life in the United States.  She has lived in many diverse locations around the globe, has traveled extensively, and considers herself industry-wise because of her world-wide exposure to her field.  Katrina told me she attended college in Ohio, studied business for over three years but attained no degrees or certificates.  When she isn’t working, her passion is surfing.
On a return flight from Europe (coincidentally, a good places to do some networking), late last year, she met a gentleman who said he was in the earliest stages of building a global marketing company for textile manufacturers.  Since marketing and textiles were of personal and professional interest, Katrina made sure to get the gentleman’s contact information, and started corresponding with him about his goals for his new company.  She also did some sleuthing to verify that her new acquaintance was who he claimed to be, and that he had a verifiable and reputable background.  I was impressed with her proactive due diligence.
Within a couple of weeks of returning from her trip, Katrina heard that the man she met was indeed moving forward with his plans, and hoped to start identifying key staff and find suitable applicants within about 6 months after all the proper paperwork for establishing his business had been filed.  Although no formal ovations about employment had been made to Katrina, she got excited believing she had an inside chance for a position in this new firm; and possibly, found a mentor who could help her build her career.
When she believed the time was right, Katrina wrote a cover letter, accompanied by a proposal for her to fill the very involved position of corporate liaison in the Sydney, Australia office; a far different assignment than what she had previously discussed with her fellow traveler.  She presented him some fairly good arguments as to why she should fill this important opening.  Katrina identified housing and accommodations, schools, shopping, medical and hospital services, and appropriate Sydney-based business leaders, among other necessities typically required for transplanted or visiting staff.  The proposal also included cost analyses, budgeting formulas and other details that she hoped would demonstrate her understanding of what she would be doing, and what would be needed for her to be effective in this position.  She had done her homework!
Katrina felt confident that she touched upon enough major points for success in the liaison role, but the textile marketer wasn’t convinced.  And he told her so.  In fact, he was put off by her changing direction from what they had originally discussed, and said he felt like she had misrepresented her real aspirations.  It made him question her honesty and sincerity.  Ouch!
Feeling like she had blown an opportunity to find a good position and build a strong professional bond, Katrina waited a few weeks and again contacted the executive.  In her assertive yet not pushy note, she apologized for presenting a limited picture of her own interests and goals. She also stated she never felt limited to only apply for the same or similar positions and not look to advance her career or change her objectives.  She said that doing so would be stagnating.  So, to further her defense (not that she really needed one!), Katrina sent the executive an extensive portfolio representative of the projects where she had made significant contributions, and enumerated the diversity and scope of what she did on each one. This package contained for more materials than the content of her earliest follow-up notes.  And she was also able to present some additional references to support her claims of experience, each with expressions that Katrina was more capable than the position allowed her to be, and with encouragement for future employers to look beyond her work history.
Several weeks passed after Katrina sent off her defense materials, and she heard nothing.  Not wanting to be any more aggressive, Katrina left well enough alone, and decided to not pursue the matter any further.  However she did continue to follow his LinkedIn postings and Twitter feeds.
Three months after receiving her packet, the executive called Katrina.  He realized he had been quick to judgment, and unfairly categorized Katrina as too full of herself, and hadn’t fully explored what she could do.  The entrepreneur finally did his own research on Katrina, and checked out the references who shouted her praise, to make sure they knew Katrina .and her work well enough to vouch for her expertise and motivation.  He was suitably impressed enough to contact Katrina and formally discuss her filling the corporate liaison position.
This could have gone either way.  The executive could have dismissed the materials and Katrina as no longer worth his time for her “misleading” him.  Or, as it turned out, taken a new and objective look at Katrina’s proposal, applauded her tenacity and confidence, and encouraged her to keep moving forward.  Which he did!  Katrina is packing to move Down Under, leaving in September for her new corporate liaison job which begins a week after her arrival.  We hope Katrina rides these new waves to great success and happiness.
For more ideas about making your own career waves, success stories about job search and career development, please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com

By Hank

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