An Inspirational Story

I used to work as a coach with a career coaching company called CareerHMO.  I left them reluctantly because of other commitments.  Even though I am no longer affiliated with CareerHMO I recommend them highly. While I was working with CareerHMO, I got to know an impressive woman, Jhanne Jasmine.  Recently, she sent me this story.  It is one of perseverance and pluck.  Jhanne is the embodiment of grit  Check out what she has to say…

I first came to CareerHMO in July 2014 after I sold my business and was looking to make a career change. Eight months later I landed a job that I was overjoyed to get. Then, in October 2015, eight months after being hired by Mobilitus, the small technology company headquartered in Iceland, with an office in Portland, I was suddenly laid off. In trying to come to terms with “why?” I was told the company was having financial issues. Eventually,  I found out though, that in reality, I was their “only”employee in the United States.  Their immigration lawyer had recommended they on-board an American and open an office here in order to attain their green cards. Two weeks after they received their green cards, I was laid off and their office in Portland was abandoned. After three years,they were finally free to come and go as they pleased from the U.S. and my employment with them had served its purpose.

Grant, my husband, was terribly upset and resentful and wanted me to cut all ties with the company. I chose to take the high road. I had been a business owner for 15 years and had pivoted into a field unrelated to my business. I was grateful to have had an opportunity to have a job that would hopefully be a bridge to another position/opportunity.  I tried to be positive and made a point to stay on friendly terms with my bosses.

I was eligible for a very small unemployment stipend but at least it was something. I immediately put the techniques I had used previously from CareerHMO back in to practice and went to work. I got up every day by 5:45 and was working at the computer by 7:00 a.m. I took weekends off to push “play” and tried to show a genuinely positive face whenever I was out with family or friends.

After I got my LI and resume updated and my job alerts set up on the job boards, I joined a twice weekly networking support group through unemployment. There, I met a lot of other folks who had been laid off recently – mostly from Intel and Nike; the majority were in their 50’s and 60’s, and like me, deeply challenged with finding a job.

I became quite fond of several of them and kept my eyes peeled for opportunities they may be interested in while conducting my own job search. I often tried to lift them out of their frustrations and offer positive feedback/advice to show my support. I can honestly say I was ecstatic when someone landed a job and was often the first one to run over and congratulate them.

I was touched by our group leader who made a point one morning when I arrived early, to thank me for my consistent positive attitude. I honestly didn’t always feel that way, but always  tried to be positive anyhow, and did notice that people liked being around me because of it.

There were about 70+ people in the group, and in a group of that size, it was painfully apparent who was weighed down by destructive negativity to the point where even a casual observer could sense they reeked of “damaged goods.” I would find myself wondering, how they could possibly pull off a successful interview. Please let the negativity go folks. No one wants to hire someone weighed down by months of unproductive resentment. Period. And if you’re really honest with yourself, you may not have liked your job or boss or company and don’t really want to work there anyhow. Look at this as a new opportunity.

As time went on, I started feeling dragged down by some of my negative group counterparts and decided one day that I needed to attend some outside Meetup groups. I found these groups to be refreshing and rejuvenating and they fulfilled my need to establish new hope and make some new networking connections/leads.

One day, I was checking out the job boards and at the top of “suggested job leads for me” on Indeed was a listing that peaked my interest. It was not at all in my targeted search parameters. I spent three days researching the company and subsequently applied for the position. I was convinced I was a strong candidate and 100 percent qualified, and felt genuinely excited about the position.

Three weeks went by and I never heard anything. So, I went on Linked In and researched the company HR team and found only one name and sent off an email to that person saying “I know you’re probably really busy, but etc. etc., and for your convenience I’ve attached is another copy of my resume and cover letter to save you time…”

The following week, I heard back from them by email, asking if I’d be available the following week for a phone interview. I worked very hard to get ready for that interview, but disappointingly, it was rescheduled at the last minute for the following week because some of the team members, including the HR person, were out with the flu.

Come “phone interview day,” I was nervous, and I felt that I’d rambled a bit due to nerves and that I should have been much more succinct. I waited a week, and just when I decided I must have blown it, I received an email and was invited for an in-person interview the following week. I was convinced that I had to get my interview nerves under control in order to have any chance at landing the job.  On the day of the interview, I allowed myself only a quick review of my notes. The last two hours before the interview, I focused on trying to relax and feel positive.

At the interview, I immediately felt I connected to the team and noticed at one point that I was so comfortable that I was actually leaning back in my chair. It was so liberating to feel like I could actually be myself. I made them all laugh a couple of times and felt really good when I left.

Two weeks later I still had not heard back and was just about to fire off an email when I finally heard from them.  They requested three professional references including my last boss which I happily provided. They then came back five days later asking for two additional references specifically from employees who had worked for me. Thank god I was still on good terms with some of my former management team/employees. I reached out to two of them and they were both happy to accommodate me. It was going on two years since I had sold my business. Never ever burn bridges folks. Never.

Then another week and a half went by and they requested that I come in for another in-person interview. I figured it was probably between me and one other candidate. I continued to review interview questions, but wasn’t really sure what else there was to cover.

I was there for three hours and met seven people including the company president and entire research team. The V.P. privately expressed his concern that I had been a former business owner and wanted to know how I would feel not “running the show.” I had to convince him that I was happy to put the burden of being a business owner behind me, but that I wanted to be to part of a company that I admired and work in an industry that I still loved.

I felt good when I left and thought I’d hear from them by the end of the week. I should mention that every step of the way, I was very conscientious to immediately get thank you emails out. And after my first in-person interview, I sent thank you emails followed by lovely snail mail thank you notes as well. In all, I sent out 21 thank yous. Holy geez, that was a lot of work. How many different ways can you thank the same person over and over? At my last interview they said “Oh, the weather is so nice out, you’re so lucky you get to go out and enjoy it.” I was gracious, but inside I was just thinking about rushing home and having to write seven more unique thank you notes! In the interviews, I listened very carefully and made a point to take notes afterward on who asked me what so I could specifically say “It was great talking to you about…, or “I especially enjoyed our discussion on…” I really felt this personalized the thank yous for the company individuals who had been asked to be part of the hiring process.

The end of the week came and went as did the first half of the following week. I was feeling terribly low one moment and then would pull myself out of it the next and try to remain positive. I tortured myself by reliving interviews in my head and how I could have maybe answered the questions more effectively. It was, to say the least, a stressful period. When I had just about decided I was not the candidate of choice, they called and offered me the position. I was ecstatic. This ended up being an almost three-month process. It seems to be taking longer to “land” folks. Be patient.

I’ve since found that they were overjoyed when I accepted and I was their strongest candidate from the beginning. I never would have guessed that.  I was on my last two weeks of unemployment when I was hired. My position title is “Research and Development Specialist and Tea Program Educator” for Stash Tea. I love my job and I love my coworkers and couldn’t be happier.

The effort and work I put into getting the position felt unbelievable, but it’s a commitment you have to make if you really want to land a position.

I also strongly recommend that you listen carefully to what they’re really asking you in the interview. For example, if they say “Tell me about a time when you met an axe murderer and what you did and what the outcome was.” Just because you’ve never met an axe murderer doesn’t mean you should answer. “I don’t know because I’ve never met an axe murderer.” You need to be fast on your feet and figure out what they’re really asking. Maybe they want to know what you’d do in a highly stressful situation and if you can demonstrate that you’d keep your wits about you even if you had no idea what’s in store ahead for you. The answers should begin “although I’ve had the good fortune of never meeting an axe murderer, I find that in unpredictable and highly stressful situations that I always…etc,etc,etc.”

In the end, I took my fellow unemployment networking group some boxes of donuts (our group tradition if you got a job) and shared my story.  Several people made a point to say how much they were going to miss me and came up to wish me well. It meant a lot to me. I’ve offered to accompany them to meetups, meet for coffee and I keep touch with some on LI.

What you learn in CareerHMO works and I wanted to share this story to reinforce that if you follow it, you’ll get there.  But, it’s also crucial to make a decision to be positive (even if you have to fake it sometimes). Your attitude is critical to your job seeking success.

My sincerest gratitude and best wishes to everyone at CareerHMO.

Now that’s the kind of story I like to hear!  We coaches can help and guide you, but you have to do the work.  Take a lesson from Jhanne.  Do the work, keep the faith and you’ll succeed.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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