In the ever-evolving landscape of professional aspirations, the quest for the perfect job remains a constant pursuit for many. Navigating the intricate paths of career advancement and securing that elusive dream job requires more than just a polished resume; it demands a strategic approach and expert guidance. In an exclusive interview with seasoned career expert Joan Thuo out of Nairobi, Kenya, we delve into the invaluable insights and proven strategies that have propelled countless individuals towards fulfilling their professional aspirations.
Joan Thuo is a business woman. Her company, Joan Winning CV, is currently operating in 18 countries and she has been doing this work for nearly a decade. While Joan enjoys her work, she didn’t originally imagine herself in this current field. Her plan was to work towards being a high level executive in human resources.
In a serendipitous turn of events, our interviewee stumbled into the world of career coaching, steering away from her initial aspirations of becoming a high-end HR manager or director. Her journey commenced at IBM, where she embarked on her HR career as an intern specializing in recruitment. Although she excelled as a recruiter, the constraints of a singular focus left her feeling unfulfilled and yearning for more. It was during this time that she began to identify gaps in candidates' interview presentations, realizing a passion for helping individuals navigate the intricacies of career development.
The turning point occurred when her sister, seeking employment, enlisted her guidance. In a remarkable twist of fate, she not only helped her sister secure a position but tripled her sister's previous earnings. What began as a lighthearted exchange, with her sister paying her as a jest, transformed into the fulcrum of her current profession. Now, she devotes herself to the art of resume writing, LinkedIn profile Writing, interview preparation, career coaching, career counseling, career Mapping, and job Search, leveraging her innate recruiting skills to guide individuals toward realizing their professional potential.
“I've been doing this for nearly a decade now and it's something that I really love to do. I just find myself lucky that I ended up with work that is in line with my strength, my skills, and my passions.” -Joan Thuo
When it comes to Joan’s process, she often encounters resistance from clients regarding a principle she staunchly upholds—guiding individuals towards work that aligns with their strengths, skills, and passions. Her emphasis extends beyond merely securing any job; it's about finding a role that one genuinely enjoys, as it significantly contributes to presenting a candidate in the most compelling light possible. While this may seem like a challenging proposition, particularly when some individuals are driven solely by lucrative incentives in fields like marketing or sales, it is a crucial step in her process.
Before commencing the creation of a CV or professional profile, Joan’s clients undergo an additional information questionnaire. This questionnaire is crafted to unearth the nuances of their work experiences—highlighting achievements, process improvements, innovations, and cost-saving initiatives. By posing these questions, she encourages candidates to reflect on aspects they may have overlooked in their initial self-presentations.
During the initial consultation, Joan delves into the highlights and pivotal moments of their careers, seeking to understand why they sought her assistance. Subsequently, the questionnaire serves as a pivotal tool for gathering detailed information. The collaborative process then unfolds, involving multiple drafts exchanged between her and the client. This iterative approach continues until they arrive at the final version, ensuring that the end result accurately represents the candidate's unique strengths and accomplishments.
Read more from Adilstone’s interview with Joan below!
Adilstone (AG): What do you believe are the key elements of a compelling CV and LinkedIn profile?
Joan Thuo (JT): Let's begin with the cornerstone of any job application – the resume or CV. In today's competitive job market, brevity is key. Recruiters typically spend a mere six seconds scanning a CV, making it imperative that yours is concise, fresh, and to the point. Unlike a decade ago, lengthy resumes are no longer in vogue. Instead, opt for a document that goes straight to the heart of your professional journey.
Moreover, it's essential to quantify your achievements with numbers. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate tangible results. Rather than regurgitating a job description, reflect on your contributions to each organization. Did you generate revenue, cut costs, introduce innovative solutions, or solve critical problems? Clearly articulating your value adds significant weight to your CV.
Lastly, meticulous attention to detail is non-negotiable. A CV riddled with grammatical, syntax, or formatting errors is akin to presenting a gourmet dish in an unappetizing manner. Imagine encountering a CV with glaring mistakes like "curriculum vitamin" instead of "curriculum vitae." Such oversights can deter prospective employers or lead to communication breakdowns when contact information is incorrect. Ensure your CV is error-free, presenting your professional narrative in a manner that captivates rather than alienates.
AG: Are there common pitfalls that candidates often encounter during interviews, and how do you help them overcome these challenges?
JT: From my extensive experience in the field, one prevalent challenge among many candidates is a lack of confidence. Surprisingly, this hurdle often plagues highly skilled professionals who, despite excelling in their roles, falter when it comes to interviews. The root cause frequently lies in inadequate preparation, especially evident when candidates fail to anticipate and craft responses to fundamental questions such as, "Tell us a little bit about yourself" or "What are your weaknesses and achievements?" The severity of this issue underscores a broader trend wherein job seekers occasionally underestimate the importance of interview readiness.
Compounding this challenge is a pervasive issue—imposter syndrome. Whether unique to our generation or a broader societal phenomenon, individuals often struggle to articulate their strengths during interviews, fearing they may come across as boastful. This phenomenon poses a substantial barrier, hindering candidates from effectively presenting themselves as viable contenders for a position.
Moreover, the imposter syndrome conundrum intertwines with the second challenge—interviewers untrained in conducting effective interviews. With tight schedules and numerous candidates to assess, hiring managers and recruiters may inadvertently miss out on qualified individuals due to insufficient probing or inability to navigate the complexities of imposter syndrome. This dual predicament results in a missed opportunity for organizations to secure high-quality hires, a situation compounded by potential shortcomings in the candidates' CVs. Ultimately, bridging this gap requires a collective effort to emphasize interview training and thorough candidate preparation, ensuring that deserving professionals are not overlooked in the recruitment process.
AG: What advice do you give to clients regarding effective job search strategies, especially in today's competitive job market?
JT: The paramount aspect, in my opinion, is one's attitude because a negative mindset is akin to a flat tire – it impedes progress. Reminding oneself that job opportunities exist, even if limited, serves as a crucial mindset shift. Whether there's just one job in the entirety of Africa or a couple that align with one's qualifications, the conviction that at least one is attainable is essential. Attitude becomes especially vital in the often stressful and mentally taxing process of job searching. It requires thick skin and unwavering tenacity to weather the constant stream of rejection emails and the challenge of sending applications with limited responses.
The prevailing sentiment is that in the current generation, resilience seems to wane quickly. Encouraging individuals to understand that job searching is a game of probability becomes imperative. Sending a higher volume of applications increases the likelihood of securing interviews and eventually a position. Equally crucial is the quality of the resume, considering the prevalence of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.
Navigating the hidden job market underscores the importance of networking. Despite being an introvert myself, I can attest to the power of social media, particularly LinkedIn, as an alternative means of networking. Emphasizing the need for job seekers to put themselves out there, whether within church groups, family circles, or social gatherings, highlights the significance of personal connections. This underscores the impact of networking in the hiring process, especially in HR and recruiter circles. Referrals and recommendations from trusted sources significantly boost the chances of landing a job, expediting the job search process.
AG: When it comes to you in your background and your profile you talk about career mapping. Can you talk a little bit about what that is?
JT: It's incredibly important for all of us to have a plan, not necessarily etched in stone, but an idea of where we see ourselves five years from now. When I graduated from campus, my goal was to become an HR manager and a child manager. Although I didn't land precisely where I aimed, I found myself somewhere between the stars and the moon—still in the same direction but doing something different. One of the questions I often pose to my clients during career mapping sessions is, "Where do you envision yourself five years from now?" I encourage them to vividly paint a picture of their future—what organization they see themselves working for, their salary, the type of boss they have, and the daily tasks they're engaged in.
This forward-thinking exercise helps identify the strategic roles needed now to align with future goals. Even with multiple job offers, having a clear map guides the decision-making process. For instance, a job might not offer the highest pay, but if it aligns with the skills needed for the three-year goal, it becomes the priority. I've witnessed people, enticed by lucrative offers, unknowingly veer away from their long-term plans. Take payroll, for example. While I could do it well and even if I were offered a substantial salary, it doesn't align with my five-year plan.
It's easy to fall into the rabbit hole of a well-paying job that doesn't contribute to your long-term goals. I've seen individuals wake up ten years down the line, realizing they made a series of mistakes, and now they want to backtrack. However, at that point, they may be married, with children, and less flexible, making the journey back more challenging.
In this insightful interview, Joan underscores the paramount importance of having a plan in one's career journey, urging job seekers to envision themselves five years into the future. Drawing from personal experience, Joan emphasizes the significance of aligning current roles with future goals through meticulous career mapping. The cautionary tale of lucrative job offers that may not contribute to long-term aspirations serves as a valuable lesson, prompting individuals to prioritize strategic positions over immediate financial gains. Joan invites job seekers to consider the long-term implications of their career choices, urging them to resist the allure of short-term benefits that may deviate from their overarching objectives. For those seeking personalized job and career guidance, Joan encourages engagement in a career mapping session. Readers interested in such sessions can connect with the subject by reaching out via Joan’s contact information provided at the end of this article.
Business Name: Joan Winning CV
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media: @joanthecareercoach (IG, FB, TikTok)