There comes a time in your career when you may outgrow your company, even after earning a series of promotions or working in different roles.
This was the case for Josh Tucker, who’d spent a decade working at the same insurance company. He was looking for a new challenge, and decided to get help from The Muse Coach Connect. He shared his experience with us and what he learned during the process.
Tell us about yourself!
After college, where I majored in history, I found a job at an insurance company. At the time, and for someone my age, it checked off all the boxes: It was a full-time job. It had benefits. And most importantly, it was in another part of the state, which meant being able to move out of my childhood home and get a place of my own.
But then I felt stuck. I’d spent the last decade working at the same company as a claims representative. And while I’d held various positions in the claims department, I felt I wasn’t being challenged enough anymore.
I decided it was time for a change and a new challenge. I had updated my resume, updated and added to my LinkedIn, and applied to several jobs, but just wasn’t getting any bites or responses. It was then that I realized I needed help with my job search.
How did you hear about The Muse Coach Connect?
As an avid reader of The Muse already, I’d noticed in the past that it offered coaching services and decided to give it a shot.
Who did you meet with, and what program did you choose?
After sifting through countless programs and coaches (with some help from my wife) I landed on the “Stuck in a Career Rut” package and chose Annie Nogg as my coach. Annie’s profile made her seem really approachable and down to earth. The reviews from people who had worked with Annie were great, too!
Why did you sign up for career coaching, and what were you hoping to get out of it?
I signed up for a coaching session because I realized I couldn’t do the job search by myself anymore. I hadn’t applied for a new job in over a decade and my job search skills were out of date (and that’s putting it nicely). I'm fairly sure you can't walk into places with a paper resume in hand these days.
What was the most meaningful thing you got out of your coaching sessions?
I always had trouble with an elevator pitch. I was willing to give 110% on the job, but never knew how to sell myself because I saw it as boasting or bragging. She told me to channel Jim Halpert from The Office. She explained that his character is humble and does his job all while still being “him.” He can also sell himself without sounding like he's bragging. I loved watching The Office, so that really resonated with me. It helped me figure out a way to approach the elevator pitch myself without having trouble.
Also, I have a tendency to ramble, so when coaching with Annie, I’d rattle off several things when she’d ask me a question. And somehow she’d be able to say, “What I’m hearing you say is...” and list off a few bullet points to sum up everything I said. I realized that skill was easier to master than I’d thought: I was able to learn her bullet point method and to take all my thoughts and boil them down like she did. I used this method both on my resume and to summarize points in interviews.
How did you feel afterward?
After our sessions I felt much more confident. Annie really pushed me to home in on what works (and doesn’t work) for me and to use those strengths and weaknesses to apply to new jobs and prep for interviews.
For example, I’ve always been a talkative person. In the past when I applied for jobs within my old company, my talkative nature played against me during interviews. But talking with Annie, I realized I could turn a negative into a positive. When I applied for the job I have now, I acknowledged this trait. While I strive to be clear and concise in interviews, I mentioned my talkative nature during the interview when asked about strengths and weaknesses. I even joked that I hoped I hadn’t been too talkative during the interview. It allowed me to provide a real answer to that strengths and weaknesses question and show my personality a bit too.
What happened next?
While I’d originally chosen to work with Annie to get out of the insurance industry, we discussed the possibility that I might need to shift gears in the same industry and then move from there. Luckily enough, I was able to take my current background in insurance and land a job at a university handling their risk management. And while it’s still in the insurance realm, it’s a job that challenges me, allows me much more autonomy and freedom to think critically, and just plain makes me happy.
It did take some time. When I first started working with Annie, the plan for my wife and me was to move from the East Coast to the West Coast. So after my coaching sessions I applied to several jobs, but with no success. It was difficult to apply for work while remotely connecting from one coast to another. I didn’t land any interviews and often got no responses. This was despite using the new methods of searching for work that Annie suggested. She’d given me a new understanding of doing extensive research into a company (more than I’d thought to do), as well as attempting to network remotely to see if that helped get my foot in the door.
A few months after I’d finished coaching with Annie, I happened upon my current job. I didn’t think a university needed someone with insurance skills. But lo and behold here was this job. It married my insurance experience with a whole new environment. Annie had reminded me that I might need to find work within my current skill set before changing to something new. This mixed the new and the familiar.
What’s your job now, and what does the day to day look like?
I went from being a claims representative just handling insurance claims to being an insurance risk analyst. In my job I still handle claims, but it’s a small part of my job. I spend more time analytically thinking and trying to mitigate and prevent risk for the university system I work for. On an average day, I could be helping someone out with a question about one of our policies, driving to one of our campuses to assess a potential risk situation, or meeting with a risk management committee to review possible future risks and help put procedures in place to prevent those risks.
What do you like most about your current job?
I love the people I work with, but I also love the unique challenges that are present when working for a higher education institution.
How long was your job search?
I’d been looking for probably six months to a year for a role by the time I found my new job. Coaching came into play about six months into my search. I had started before the holidays and admittedly there was a gap in searching to enjoy the holidays. But coaching was a New Year’s resolution in a sense, something to try since I couldn't do it on my own and needed outside help and insight. I did admittedly take a few breaks during that time, making sure to do a fun activity here or there so I didn’t burn myself out.
I gave myself a goal to find and apply to at least one job (that fit my skills, not just applying for the sake of applying) per week. Looking back it all seems like a whirlwind to work full-time, then switch gears and search for new work, research that company, do online networking, and apply for new positions. But in the end it was all worth it. I have a job I love that challenges me like I want to be challenged.
What advice do you have for someone who’s stuck in a tough job search?
Keep at it. I know that sounds cliche, but if you don’t keep looking and trying different avenues to both search and improve yourself, you won’t get where you want to go.