It's all about the hustle

Monday, March 7, 2016

Things I've learned since October 2015:
  • Changing careers is full-time job without any perks.
  • Job boards like Indeed or networking sites like LinkedIn are pretty useless if you don't fit into rigidly defined job requirements.
  • In-person networking is exhausting but very necessary.
  • Recruiters and head hunters are on par with real estate brokers when it comes to their motives and level of honesty.

Here's the deal: I’m not your average modern professional. I've spent the last decade as an entrepreneur and built an award-winning operation from the ground up. Wearing ALL of the hats of a start-up founder gave me a diverse set of skills that go beyond what I learned in college and in my early professional life.

Of course, I am an Adobe Creative Suite master, natural networker, and can juggle multiple projects at once with aplomb. But I’m also a strategic thinker, business builder and team leader. Yes, I have an online portfolio of my creative work but it can't tell the whole story.

My background, while extensive, isn’t traditional. I believe that's a good thing. I started my career as a journalist, copy editor and layout artist. After mastering life in fast-paced, deadline driven newsrooms, I moved on to social media, illustration, photo manipulation, web design and new media. As creative director of à deux—a boutique design studio specializing in bespoke stationery—I mastered the demanding world of luxury weddings.


In the past 10 years, I've actively designed for projects in addition to overseeing them from a high level, led a creative team to develop innovative design solutions from broad concept development through implementation, and collaborated with people from diverse disciplines to translate ideas into compelling, executable solutions. I'm very comfortable in a client-facing role, I've spoken on business panels, been featured in magazines and on television, and I'm told I throw a great party.

But most hiring managers will never know any of this or get a chance to be wowed by what I can do for them. Why? Because a computer decides if my résumé ever makes it to their inbox. If it does, that person is so flooded by applications that s/he will look at my CV for about six seconds before deciding if I merit an interview. The whole process is broken, in my opinion.

It's either geared toward millennials, with advice about job-hunting basics like interview attire, or it's stuck in a way-back time when hiring was done with a handshake and employees stayed in the same job for 30 years. If, like me, you find yourself somewhere in the middle of these two eras, timing, luck and who you know at the top are the only ways to change careers.

If you've read this far, I'm flattered. And you may be thinking, "But Kelli, do you want to do next?" The short answer is:
Ideally, my next role allows for tremendous growth, an entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration across all disciplines and specialties. Pretty general, right? That's perfect for a Swiss Army knife-type like me. I want to be involved and don't want to be boxed into one rigid definition. I want to hustle and reverse engineer a job that fits me rather than me fitting into a job.
My résumé contains an overview of my background, highlighting my achievements and transferrable skills, but here's few things that cannot be found in my résumé:

  • I base my personal brand on quality and experience. I care about the work I do and the products, clients, and companies I represent. I don’t just fulfill my responsibilities and I’m always looking for ways to exceed expectations. 
  • I think each client partner is unique and adapt my presentation and demeanor to ensure everyone involved has a memorable experience — whether I am just consulting on a design or overseeing an entire creative project. 
  • I treat each project or assignment as my own, giving it the attention, quality, and effort I would something I created for myself. I am proud of the work I do because it defines my reputation and how others see my employer, my team and me. 

I'd like to join an energetic team of creative thinkers, designers, technologists and empathy enthusiasts. I come loaded with kindness, leadership, motivation, experience, optimism, a well of creative ideas and an obsession with emerging technology. I'm happy to jump in and support a project from pitch to development to execution.

Passionate, creative and thoughtful in everything I do, when I see a hole, I try to fill it with products/processes that inform and delight. As I return to the non-entrepreneurial workspace, I'm seeking opportunities that allow me to flex my client-focused, business building muscles in fresh ways. Among my peers, I’m known as the person who can stylishly pick up the pieces, no matter what amount of you-know-what hits the fan. I want a chance to use my very diverse skill set to make an impact in a forward-thinking, company with plenty of opportunities for growth and a healthy sense of humor.
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