Varnell Consulting
William G. Varnell
Career Consultant
For those who choose to manage their careers
About Me  |   Contact Me
Career Management: Success Stories

Here are some Career Management Success Stories of past clients:

Charles: Fully prepared when opportunity knocked

Charles became unemployed when his company was dissolved by the parent company and the operations merged. As head of investment research, he was well compensated. The economy had turned with financial service companies rapidly downsizing and eliminating positions making his search difficult. We had developed multiple resumes, a quality biography and his self-marketing plan.

Charles actively networked and interviewed in Boston, New York and other markets. One of the companies he was networking with suffered a major problem. In a strategy meeting I suggested Charles call his contacts in New York and offer to help. This might lead to permanent work or perhaps a consulting engagement. Either way, his income and contacts would increase.

Ten days later he was working full time in New York. He has subsequently been promoted, has offices in both New York and Boston and reports that he loves what he is currently doing.

Charles was also able to satisfy the desire to stay in the Boston area to avoid relocating his family. In fact, he was able to negotiate ultimately moving his position from New York to Boston as part of a long-term plan.

A good plan for search, clear criteria for the position he wanted, an understanding of his personal and family needs and the skill to see opportunity were his keys to success.

Susan: Comparing multiple offers

Susan is a senior executive and is very active in a local not-for-profit. She has responsibility for caring for elderly parents and needed to find new work in Boston. Susan is low-key, presents herself well but is reluctant to promote her strengths and self in a job search. Working on this, we developed an approach to sell her results without feeling like a braggart. Her work experiences and results were organized into an organized approach making her interviews a good conversation and not an inquisition.

Susan developed a quality, focused self-marketing plan, a resume and her unique “Perfect Job Description (PJD)”. The PJD allowed Susan to identify potential employers and opportunities. She used the PJD to focus on good opportunities and eliminate positions of lower value. This helped her conserve her emotional energy needed when good opportunities came in play. Structured networking developed interest by several potential employers and three offers were made to her simultaneously. Unusual for sure, but terrific for her!

Three offers at the same time provided a unique opportunity to compare and contrast while evaluating each against her specific criteria developed in our sessions. The evaluation process was used to quickly eliminate one position from consideration. This position failed at least one of her “must have” criteria and did not measure well against others.

The two remaining positions were essentially equal in the evaluation. However, one offered more money while the other position “felt” better. The felt-better job did not fully respond to financial issues raised during subsequent negotiations and Susan took the higher paying position. I coached her in the new position acting as a sounding board as she acclimated into her new company and situation.

Some time later Susan called and asked to meet – she had been offered an even better and higher paying job by the company she originally had felt better about. What should she do? We sat down together, reconstructed our evaluation process (with some updated criteria) and she determined that the new offer was what she wanted. She took the new position, has been promoted and reports that she and the firm are a good fit.

Don: A new business and business plan from new ideas

Don spent over twenty years in a well-known technology company developing technology from concept to product. He commercialized technology by developing products working with customers to define and meet needs. He established manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution processes into turnkey business units.

His interest was to develop a technology business of his own to significantly improve the ability of broadband lines to deliver volume and permit the increased sales of capacity without a corresponding increase in apparent capacity.

Career Consulting helped Don develop his business plan, identify potential customers, refine his product (including an adjustment of the balance of hardware to software in his technology) and develop his presentation to potential customers and funding sources. We worked together to evaluate the potential for international development of the innovative hardware and software for this venture.

Ian: Dealing with a perceived barrier

Ian fractured his neck in a surfing accident. Paralyzed from the neck down, he was airlifted home and began a long and difficult - but successful rehabilitation. Today he walks with a cane. His gait is somewhat halting, but he is highly functional as an employee in his chosen field. His employer went under which forced him to look for a new job. His physical limitations had not been an issue before, as his work history was excellent.

He wanted to make a significant career change. He was deeply concerned that his cane would present a barrier in the interview process. We discussed the fact that such questions were inappropriate and should be turned away if asked directly.

Ian’s concern was how do to deal with an oblique question that might reflect a concern about his health.

Ian’s solution was positive, creative and added to his self-confidence. In interviews Ian told his story as an example of a major accomplishment. He gave appropriate details and added that, “If I can do that, I can do anything”.

He now has that different career doing work much more to his liking. He was recently promoted in his new company.

Ian’s quality plan, good preparation and rehearsal for networking and interviewing, and preparation for the unexpected were the keys to his success.

Marie: Developed a portfolio of work

Marie spent more than twenty well-paid years in a high-pressure environment developing B-to-B products through innovation. She found ways to take old products to new markets and found markets for new products. When she and I met her stress level was incredible and she confided to me that he had had indigestion daily for the past fifteen years.

Marie was lost. She indicated that she needed and wanted to work and felt a strong need to find a new company “like his old one so she could do what she had been doing”. We spent time together working on her plan and identifying target companies for networking. Marie was never satisfied with the target companies, her resumes, biography or her self-marketing plan.

It was clear that her dissatisfaction wasn’t about materials and we talked at greater depth. I encouraged her to take long walks with her spouse to discuss their future as empty nesters. They agreed - it was time to take stock, evaluate the future to find a different balance of work and life.

They came to see Marie’s unemployment as a liberating moment in their life together. They gave themselves permission to think uniquely and innovatively about what they wanted. They decided to create change.

Today, Marie has a new portfolio approach to work. she has developed a long-term plan leading to an active retirement. Her portfolio of work brings three “jobs” together providing income needed, work satisfaction and the free time they desired.

Marie works in commercial real estate with specialty companies finding and outfitting space to unique needs and she has turned a life long avocation into two specialty businesses. Some day, when Marie and her spouse are ready, she will pursue only one or two of theses “jobs” and slow down a little more.

Marie has a career plan and is moving towards the future. (She is also now eating very spicy food and enjoying it!)

Adam: Taking underperforming products to success

Adam spent thirty years with the same company planning and executing marketing plans. His experience is broad and deep – and, he wanted to work on his own. His wife was uncertain about Adam “not having a job” and wanted him to simply find a new job. We had a lot of work to do.

Adam’s broad work experience was a barrier to his consulting focus. He freely admits that he can do “most anything” in marketing, planning and execution and that he was often guilty of straying off his plan whenever a “fat rabbit” hopped by. We worked to articulate his true marketing passion.

Adam excelled at making underperforming products successful.

Establishing target companies was difficult. Adam was well-known in his industry across the country but was less well known locally. Larger companies prefer to use “name” consultants while other companies were too small to afford his services. We defined his target market as companies in his industry with annual revenues of $2 -20 million. Research produced a list of companies in his geography, industry and size. A plan of attack was developed.

Often new independent consultants can define their first three customers as “a friend in the business”, “a piece of good luck” and finally “the business is launched.” Adam’s business is well past being launched. He has customers inside and outside his traditional industry and has customers away from his initial geography. He has networked with a variety of other entities for referrals and synergy. He is active in his industry nationally and is receiving interest in his services from this exposure. He has a dynamite web site.

A focused definition of his value and a tight definition of his marketplace aided Adam’s success. His wife sees that he does have a job – it is just different from the one he had the first thirty years. He has a home office and makes more than he did at his old company.

Tom: A future in strategic consulting

Tom came to Career Consulting with experience in banking and healthcare. He played a key role in returning a multi-billion dollar organization to profitability. A very personable, taciturn person, Tom wanted to become an independent consultant working on strategic planning. His wife was fully supportive of his plans.

Independent consulting can be difficult. A good plan, product definition and a clear identification of the first five or six paying customers are needed. I explained to Tom that people will buy independent consulting if people know and like you and your work. Tom’s quiet personality and passive approach required refinement of his sales approach. We worked together to develop his business plan (especially the financial section), his sales approaches and his actual product offerings.

Tom had only one clear-cut potential first customer so his plan called for broadening his appeal to grow his business for the long term. In addition, we found ways to get his name in the marketplace as an expert and independent consultant.

Tom developed three strategies. First, he broadened his appeal beyond healthcare and banking; he expanded his reach to a third industry were he had good contacts from his banking days. Second, he had been active in a HR/Training area while in healthcare and he was able to develop some Train-the-Trainer products around this specialized expertise. Third, Tom developed a sales approach combining networking, speeches and research publication.

Tom has sold training products and strategic planning products to get his business underway. He has passed the three engagement/three customer threshold in establishing a consultancy and has sold products to customers he did not know in his previous work. His research articles have been accepted for publication.

Tom’s business is established. He is meeting his overall business plan.

Paul: Building a marketing consulting practice

Paul came to me wanting to be a marketing consultant taking new products to market for small or new companies. His extensive career in marketing had been wide-ranging and successful. I helped him understand what it means to be in business on your own.

We planned the business, defined the business, found ways to meet potential clients, and established several ways to charge for his services. We found ways to get young entrepreneurs interested in the value of using a gray beard as their marketing guru.

Organizing his experience into a series of vignettes demonstrated his work and successes marketing products. Paul’s self-presentation skills were honed to leverage his maturity as an asset. His approach - “I have been successful at doing what you need done – let me show you how.” Paul acts as the Chief Marketing Officer for small companies, start-ups or their venture capital firms.

Paul’s success is based upon the very clear definition of his expertise. He is focused on smaller product companies across industries. He is compensated in cash, options, product results or a combination.

Today, his company is successful. He has added a number of associates and free-lance consultants who provide a variety of technical support. He provides heavy weight marketing management for companies who are not yet large enough to afford it.

Mark: Understanding his value

Mark is a senior market research and competitive intelligence professional and manager. He is the “go to” expert bringing critical information to the senior management decision-making process. Only a few companies use information at his level of sophistication.

His compensation was below market and we focused on establishing his real value. Mark’s long-term goals included moving from staff work to head an operational function.

Mark had never been unemployed and had not actually looked for a job in many years. He had been recruited to the positions he held. Mark and his wife have small children and were concerned about many issues relating to potential relocation. I met with both several times to fully understand their needs.

We evaluated skills, interests, long term financial goals, family issues and career goals. Mark created a self-marketing plan incorporating two, parallel independent searches. I rarely recommend such an approach but Mark’s intellectual discipline and energy level proved up to the task. An important part of our work was to conduct ongoing evaluations of this dual approach.

One search was based upon the desire to stay in Eastern Massachusetts and helped Mark explore consulting opportunities (independently as well as part of a consulting firm), business ownership (in an entirely new field), moving into operations (at a lower salary) and others.

The second part of his search plan focused on growing his career in a larger corporation. He found several opportunities through his networking and with executive search firms. He actively interviewed in the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic region, and New York. He is now in a position in the South.

His preparation and planning paid off – his compensation has essentially tripled (living in a far less costly area), with a much larger staff and role.

When I last spoke to Mark he was being actively recruited for an even larger opportunity. I will help him with that evaluation.

Website designed and created by Mark Fahey Website Design and Consulting.