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Cathy Lanzalaco, CEO and Executive Career and Interview Coach of Inspire Careers, is the interviewee in the latest episode of the Smarter Business Podcast. In this episode, Cathy discusses wanting something more out of a career, taking control of your life, Job Seekers Spotlight, being on camera, along with resume writing, coaching and recruiting.
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(introductory music) - Welcome to this episode of the Smarter Business Podcast. This is a show where we'd like to talk to business leaders who are using video in interesting ways. And today we have Cathy Lanzalaco of Inspire Careers. And, Cathy, it's great to have you on. - Hey, thanks Neil, glad to be here. - Yeah. We have lots of fun stuff to talk about today. Why don't we start by just getting an intro to you? Who is Cathy? What's your kinda career look like? Or, what are you doing right now? - Okay. Well, thank you for having me today. I appreciate it. And, I am the CEO of Inspire Careers. Inspire Careers is a full-service career marketing firm based in the Buffalo area, and serving clients all over the country. I have a specialization in new graduates, and rising professionals as well. Am very passionate about those, hopefully we can talk about them a little bit. But prior to being a career coach and running my own business, I worked for 18 years in Human Resources. So, as I talk to clients about putting together their career marketing tools and their content, I also help them show the career progression, and what jobs are just like from the other side of the desk, from the HR people. And also, my first career I was a registered nurse. So, I'm actually a three-time career changer, and when I deal with my clients, I talk about that pretty often, because I want people to know that anything is possible, you just have to have a plan, and that my job is to help them craft the plan. - Excellent. Well, yeah. And having gone through it, right, is probably one of the best ways to be able to kinda, I dunno, capture that and know what they're going through, and so on. - Mm hmm. - So that's excellent. Inspire Careers, how do you think it's different than some of maybe your competitors in the space? - Yeah, well, from an Inspire Careers perspective, the word careers is built right into the name of the company. And so when I say that, I really want people to understand it's about your career, it's not just about crafting a resume for you. A resume is just a tool, and I am a professional certified resume writer, which is really important to part of what I do, but on such a larger scale, it is about career management and career marketing. So, I focus very heavily on the coaching aspect. I feel like I can give anybody a resume, I can do a LinkedIn profile, I can do these things, but if you don't know how to use them, if you don't know what the strategy is behind it, if you don't know what your audience is expecting, then you're not going to be as successful. So I focus very strongly on education, coaching people to push themselves to the next level, if that's what people want, I mean, my job is really to help understand what they want. But if they're afraid, if they're not sure what to do, that's my job, is to help hold them accountable, provide ideas for them and really to ask the right questions. That's really what a coach does. Ask the right questions to help stimulate their thought, and really help direct them where they know that they really wanna be. - Awesome. And kinda, this isn't in the notes, so get ready. Here comes the first curveball. (laughs) - That makes me wonder- - Oh no, a quiz. Oh no. - Yes, yes. (Neil and Cathy laugh) That makes me wonder, this past year and a half, right, that's just been very different for everybody in lots of different ways, but especially a lot of job seekers and a lot of people maybe deciding they want something different out of a career. How have you seen that shift the way that you do business, or the types of folks you're able to help? - Yeah. My typical client is someone that already has a job, or, in the case of a new grad, somebody that's looking for their first job, but most often I work with job seekers that already have jobs. So, the big shift that I saw this year is for those people that continue to reach out to me. They're saying, "You know what? I think I can do more. I think I want something different. Maybe this culture has revealed itself to me better, and I really don't want it here. I want something different. Maybe I know that we have to go back into the office and I really want us to have remote work on an ongoing basis. People have different priorities. So, I see more of that. People stepping out and saying, "This is really what I want, and I'm not afraid to go after it." And you would think that the job market being what it was, even particularly a year ago, the people would've been in lockdown and afraid, but, I haven't seen that. But the one thing I have seen to very dramatically in my practice, has been the increase of people wanting career clarity. So people saying to me, "Not only do I not wanna work for this company anymore, I don't wanna do this job anymore. So, what can I do? How do I take myself from point A to get to point C? What's point B? What do I do? I don't really know." And so I call that career clarity coaching, and helping them walk through a process of being able to identify what their values are, what their goals are, and then being able to coach them through to a plan. So, that has increased significantly. I think that the crisis that we've all undergone has helped reshift priorities for people. And now people just are not satisfied with doing jobs that they didn't wanna be doing in the first place. Now is the time. What have you always wanted to do? And I find that people are really stepping out, they're being brave, and they're asking for help and saying, "I want it, help me get there." - Yeah. We hear about it all the time, right? One of the terms I've heard recently is "The Great Resignation", right? Everybody's saying- - Yeah I read that. - "I don't wanna do this job anymore." More passion-based career choices, and more kind of work-life balance, or remote like you mentioned. So it's an interesting time. - Yeah. - Probably a very interesting time in your business in particular. - Well, can I say that it's an interesting time and it's an exciting time. I love people that are ready to take control of their own lives. So, I think we've all been through those exercises ourselves, right? We all wanna be able to do that. And for the people that are brave enough to step forward and say, "I don't know how... what I'm gonna do. I don't know how I'm gonna get there. But, I wanna do it." I love that. And I think there's so much of that happening, and I think it's an exciting time. People can have whatever they want you just gotta figure it out. - Yeah. I agree with that. Who doesn't love it there, they fit an employee into a box or use them as a cog within their business, they don't like it as much, but yeah, I mean, I think people overall are gonna be a lot happier if they're able to do the things that, well, make them happy, right? - Mm hmm. It's about that simple, so, excellent. I usually ask people to boil down what it is you do into one sentence. This is kind of that elevator pitch type exercise that everybody's gone through in a networking meeting or something. Do you have one sentence about what you do? - Am a career marketing coach and I help people land jobs in careers that they love. - Excellent. Excellent. That's perfect. And, now I'm gonna move on to our next subject. No good segue here, so I'm just gonna go for it. We're gonna talk a little bit about why you were selected to be on this podcast with us, which is, the month of August here, on vidwheel Creator Network, which is our group of people following their passions and using video to do it, the theme this month is "First Videos". It's an important kind of milestone for anybody who's gonna start creating video content. The first one is usually the hardest. So- - Yes. - Fitting in that theme, you, presumably, are getting a lot of people into their first videos with your Job Seeker Spotlights. Do you wanna talk a little bit about that series? - I love that you brought that up. That's an awesome segue. Yeah, listen, video is here to stay, and for the people that are not comfortable with it, sometimes it's just a matter of dipping your toe in it, but I would tell you that as much as people are on video all day long with their jobs, team meetings and things like that, it's different if you're interviewing. And so, I do have a segment on YouTube that I call my Job Seeker Spotlight, and that is reserved for my open seekers, people that are not passive seekers or people that are not confidential job seekers, so they have nothing to hide, 'cause we don't wanna ever jeopardize anybody's confidentiality. But for those people, I try to get them their first foray sometimes into video interviews. And again, a lot of people say, "Well, I'm used to it," but it's a whole different animal when you're answering questions. So, I do find that putting people in front of the camera, having them to go through the exercise of getting the good lighting, understanding what their background looks like, and being able to focus on the camera, really having that presence, is so helpful. So that when they actually go into true online or video virtual interviews, they already kinda have that, (sighs) "I've already done this," and they know, and it's gonna increase their presence, and it's going to increase their confidence. And, it's really going to be able to help them not focus on those mechanical pieces, and really just talk about their value. So, I do that and it's a great help, but I would also tell you, the reason it was started is to help people with their video skills, but really to help job seekers be able to get their message out more clearly to employers and recruiters that are looking for people with their skills and qualifications. And it has done that. And I have heard stories from clients, that we've put their videos out there, and they have been reached out to by recruiters, by employers. I had one gentleman telling me that he was in the running for a job, and after they saw his interview, the Job Seeker Spotlight interview, I think it was last summer, they bumped him back up to the pile and they re-interviewed him. And, then he became a finalist for that job. So, it's just about pulling back the curtain a little bit and giving people a flavor for what these job seekers really have to offer. So, it's a lot of fun and it's just a great tool for them to be able to master. - Yeah, that is... I mean, yeah, we of course, at the Creator Network and if it will agree, this is kind of... yeah, a lot of the video-based kind of elements- - Yeah. - That started up during the pandemic, are here to stay, a lot of businesses have found ways to make things more efficient to better communicate, and so on, through this medium. So, being somewhat comfortable in it is just almost a no-brainer. I feel like you're doing a great service by helping folks who are going to go through the video interviews, and so on, kinda get past the technical hurdles that so often, right, you might not even think about it, and then you look at yourself on the screen and you're like, "Oh man, my lighting's bad. Look at how much better this person's video stream is than mine." And, getting people past that and kind of, "first one's the hardest", and then you incrementally kinda improve and get more confident from there is a great service. And I will add one more thing, which is, if you're in a lineup of interviewees and your video comes on and you're comfortable, and your lighting's good, and you sound good, and you have presence on video, you're gonna stand out from a lot of the other folks who are trying to do it on their cell phone, or backlit, or any of the other bad things, (scoffs) that can happen on these video streams. - It's such a great point that you make, because people just don't recognize the impact of it. And even if you're interviewing and the background that you're sitting in is messy, right? I mean, even if people aren't consciously, like the interviewers aren't consciously thinking about these things, they take these mental notes, right? And if you can't figure out your... how to figure out your video, and there's kids yelling in the background, and your dog's underneath your feet, they're gonna say, "Hmm, can I trust this person with my client? Can I keep this person in a meeting?" I mean, that's what employers are thinking about, so it's really important for people to recognize that, so even if they're not practicing with me to be able to understand how important it is to practice. I think people take it for granted because we do so much of it these days, but if it's... that could make the difference between being offered a job and not. And you don't wanna lose that opportunity simply because you didn't take the time to learn the technology and really up your skillset on it, to really make sure that the technology doesn't become the issue. It should never be the issue. - Yeah. We had one presenter last fall who started calling it the "tailored suit of the digital generation" or... yeah, I'm sorry, that's a little bit of a gender, maybe, example. - Yeah. - But, it is roughly the equivalent of, I don't know, showing up with the right (laughs) level of attire on, or combing your hair, or whatever. - Mm. - So. - Mm hmm. - You gotta do some of the things to kinda, yeah, present professionally. - Yeah. - So I feel like you covered a lot of the benefits and we'd just discuss some of the benefits of those Job Seeker Spotlights. What were the most common challenges when you were recording those, or maybe talking about somebody, trying to get them to record one? - Yeah, when I do that, the client and I always prepare our script ahead of time, meaning I provide them with the questions, so they have adequate time to prepare. And you mentioned before, you asked me about my elevator pitch, right? So they craft that ahead of time. And we know exactly what we're gonna ask, and I tell them how long it's gonna take so that they can whittle it down. I find that sometimes people ramble, and we all do it. I'll tell you what, I know I do it. How about that? (Neil laughs) I speak for that. But I think, on video too, sometimes we get more nervous, so we ramble a little bit more. But, I tell you, the number one problem that I see, and that I prepare my clients for is poor lighting. And it sounds so, so easy, right? Why is that? But it's the poor lighting. If I can barely see you, and if I can't really tell where you are, and it's just, if I have to strain, if I'm an employer and I gotta strain to see you, I'm already irritated. So, the small things like that, and certainly the overall presence, but, preparing the message, I think is the most important thing that I can tell people that they really need to get ready for, and that's what I do with my clients. Just get ready, prepare, prepare, prepare. - Yeah. Yeah, like you would for any other interview, right? It's not rocket science. - I stayed up all night preparing for this Neil, all night. - Yeah, all night. - Prepare, prepare, prepare. - And I didn't even send you the notes till this morning, right? So. (laughs) - Telepathy. I knew what you were gonna ask me. (Neil and Cathy laugh) - Excellent. So, I had one other kinda question relating to the Job Seeker Spotlight, which is, are you doing, are you editing and producing that in-house? And, I don't know, do you wanna talk about it, right? Was there any learning curve or, that type- - Yes. Actually, I do have someone that does it. And, so what I do, is I tell the people that I'm interviewing, "Let's keep moving, and if we have a problem, just like, you were kind enough with me too, we can do some editing." So sometimes we do have to go back and make the edits, but I have a young man who does the editing for me. And, it's always trying to provide a spotlight where we can absolutely show the best parts of the conversation, but I don't wanna remove the humanity either. So, sometimes we do trip over our words a little bit, it's not meant to be a Hollywood production, it's really meant to let people have some insight into a job seeker, but with the most professional platform. So, sometimes we don't cut out all the uhms and the oops, right, because sometimes that's just part of who we are. But when someone isn't looking directly into the camera, when someone can't seem to really be able to communicate their message, those types of things, then that just goes beyond editing, that's when you start bringing out the surgical cart and we have to do some work. - Yes. (laughs) Yeah, yeah. I mean, and there is really a fine line there, right? - Yeah. - Authenticity has been such a buzzword through the pandemic. - Yeah. - And I think it, there's definitely a place, right? But, you also brought up having kids screaming in the background, all the other things. Yeah, you can show some personality, but once again, it gets to professionalism when you maybe have gone a little too far, or yeah, are not articulate with the messaging that you're trying to get out there. So, yeah. - Yeah. Or, you're wearing your pajama bottoms on the interview and you have to stand up, (Neil laughs) and come on, people are still doing it. I didn't ask you Neil, but I'm just hoping that, you have some pajama bottoms- - Oh yes, yeah. - I think those- - Yeah, I'm wearing cargo shorts, so not the most professional attire, but I've been hanging out with the kids all morning, so. (Cathy and Neil laugh) - But, not for job seekers. Job seekers, top to bottom, even your shoes, you don't know what you're gonna need to do while you're online, but that's the other thing too. You really can't take anything for granted. And sometimes it's a small point, but I think it's an important one. - Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. That's a great point. I never worry about my shorts, 'cause I'm running the show on these interviews, but, if- - 'Cause you pay the editor, so you can do whatever you want, absolutely. - I can do whatever I need to. So, excellent. I saw some other content on your site that had some expert interviews, that kind of, well, both of these types of video, and any of the just, interviewing, create content, is one of our favorite types of content on the Creator Network. I always set it up as this, I say, the easiest content to make, the easiest to produce, is to talk to somebody smarter than you and record it. And, there you go, you got great content. You can cut it up into little social bits, you can have the long form version, those expert interviews, is that kind of what you got going on there? - Yeah, so I do two other videos that I, in addition to my Job Seeker Spotlight, and the first one is called Spotlight on Recruiting, and then the other one is Spotlight on Careers. And, the goal of the Spotlight on Recruiting was for me to interview recruiters to pull the curtain back, a little bit as I'd say, so that job seekers can really get into the head of recruiters, understand what they're really thinking. What do certain things mean? How does a recruiter really wanna be approached? What are they looking for? So, I think that's a huge advantage for job seekers to understand that, and to understand that the recruiters wanna help. And oftentimes, recruiters get a really bad rap, if you'd read LinkedIn, gee, you'd never talk to a recruiter for all the slapping around people do for them. Is there opportunity? Sure. There's opportunity for everybody, but recruiters play such a huge function and I don't necessarily mean recruiters at one particular company, although yes, but the recruiters I have interviewed have been retained or contingency recruiters, the ones that own or work at recruiting firms and then they are conducting the search assignments for particular employers. And those jobs are what we call in the "hidden job market". And I think that's important for people to understand as well. These are jobs that are not posted. And while sometimes we do talk about specific jobs, it's more important for people to understand how that kinda all works, and why recruiters can be such a great caveat into that. So, it's really important. And the recruiters that I have interviewed have been very, very generous. And I have some other ones lined up to talk with as well. And I've found great feedback about that, people really just want to absorb everything the recruiters have to say. And then the other series I do is Spotlight on Careers. And that's a pretty broad topic, but it covers anything that I feel, or others may bring to me, that I believe is appropriate for general career advancement or career professional, something that I think cuts across most lanes of careers and would be interesting for people to know. So, we've talked about branding, we've talked about professional portraits, I've interviewed people about higher education, there's just been a lot of different... that really has taken off too. And, what that really does is give people different topics to think about, and things that they may not have been aware of before, but it also, from an Inspire Careers perspective, helps get the message across to people that we are in touch with what's happening in the job market, not just here in the Buffalo area, but nationally as well. And so when we're serving our clients, we know what's happening, and part of that is to help demonstrate that credibility as well, that we are in the mix of this. And one of the things that I feel that I bring to my clients in particular is that connectivity. I'm a connector, just like you are, and the people that connected us together. So, I think that's important. And so, when people can see those interviews, they know that there's so much more that goes on in terms of the world of careers. And if I can help show any light to that, and provide that information while promoting someone else's business, win, win for everybody. - Yes. Absolutely, win-wins are the best, right? - Yeah. - And that is invaluable kind of info that's not as widely known. So that's an excellent... both series are great, and we'll include your YouTube channel link and other ways to get to the series in the show notes here. - Yeah, tell people to forget watching the Kardashians and the cute puppies on YouTube. (Neil laughs) It's all happening in Inspire Careers YouTube channel. - There you go. - Best six minutes of your day. (Neil laughs) - Yeah. Yeah. There is good info there. I've checked some of it out and it is excellent. So, I encourage everyone to visit and subscribe. - There you go. - So, I'm gonna rephrase this next note here. So here's another one that maybe you're not prepped for, but do you remember your first video? - Yes, I think I do. The first video I believe was with a fellow coach, he's a life coach. A little shout out here to Rob Ciminelli, he's a life coach that I work with, and we do a video series called Coaches Unite, where we talk about a lot of different issues across life issues and career issues. And I think that was the first one that we did. We did that at the first weeks of the pandemic. We wanted to reach people that we knew were suffering and scared at the time. And so we created that, and honestly, it looked like we were doing it down in "Wayne's World's basement", because we just didn't have any skills or tools about it. We just didn't know. Even now we keep that still pretty informal and we share it within our subscribers and our network. But, sometimes you just have to jump in. If you think about it and get stuck in analysis paralysis, you'll never do it, and you get better as you go on, and every time you do it you learn something else, and you up your skills, and you up the professionalism of it, but for anybody that's thinking about doubling in it, sometimes you just gotta rip off the band-aid and get in and get dirty. - That's, yeah, we always say ship it, right? You can't be afraid (Cathy laughs) to ship it. You ship it, first one's not gonna be your best, just go for it. - Nah. - And then you look for ways to improve from there, right? - Yeah. So, your spot that you're in now, and the content that you're able to create is better than the first one, and that's great. And, it's also interesting to hear that you started during the pandemic, which I think is a really common theme, right? A lot of folks looking either for connection or new ways to reach out when they weren't able to do what they've always done. - Yeah. - Go to video and you start to reach people in different ways. So, it's great. - Yeah. And as a consumer of videos too, I mean, I enjoy watching them, that's why people do them, because you really gets it, more inside into people and, how much of texts can we read all day? And, we can only do so much video too, but when you really just get a quick hit on something, it just seems to show so much more. And, while it never replaces being in person, it's such a great alternative. And I love it. I can't imagine going back. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's the, it's a big part of what we're doing, helping folks kind of grow through video, right? Even within my own business, we've been able to do a lot of work with people, across the world instead of just in the Buffalo area here, and it's been an interesting year. So, I'm gonna move on to the question that I ask everyone who's been on the podcast. It's the one kind of thread that runs throughout all of them. This is called the Smarter Business Podcast, what is one thing you've done to make your business or client's business smarter? - I would say video. I think that is one of the top things that I've done, and it just runs now, you talk about, thread through, the conversations that you have with people you interview. I see there is a common thread through so much of my product offerings that I wasn't doing two years ago. So now, as I'm interviewing clients, sometimes we talk on the phone, sometimes and always when we do coaching, we do that on video. And, I find too, interviewing people, again, a lot of that, consultations can be done on the phone and so forth, but when you're really coaching people on some significant life issues and things in their career, how wonderful is it to be able to share that space together on video? So I think that's definitely one of the things that I did. Thanks for asking. I hadn't thought about it. - Awesome. Yeah. Here we go. That's the perfect answer for this podcast. (laughs) - Oh yeah, ding, ding, ding. - All right. So I've got one more thing, any interview I do, this goes to, when we were doing them in studio all the way on, down through podcasts and everything, I always like to ask, just an open-ended, is there anything we forgot? Sometimes something gets knocked loose that, with some of the questions being asked or, that type of stuff. Is there anything else? - Well, what I would tell people is if you're thinking about getting back into the job market, if you haven't been in awhile, if you're thinking about, "Oh, that career I've always wanted, something I've always wanted to do." Now is the time. Don't let anything you read scare you. Don't let thinking that there's so many people out there flooding the markets scare you. Don't let the fact that you haven't worked in a year scare you, right? I mean, I know, I've come from places of fear in my life too and I, it's always something that we fall back on, but we can't. I mean, if you really want what you want, it's out there for you. It's just a matter of figuring out what the plan is. And, there are lots of career professionals, there's lots of people. I do believe that you should find the right coach for you, you should find the right business for you, and some way that you can feel that you've gotten everything that you needed to help explore your opportunities. But, now is the time folks. That's what I'm telling yah. Don't pull back, because I think the pandemic has taught us that we just don't know what tomorrow is gonna hold. If you want it, go for it. - I love that messaging. And I'll say, just because I guess I'm an optimist, if all these people are leaving their jobs, then there's all kinds of jobs available. - Yes, yes, yes, yes. (Neil laughs) Absolutely. - Right? - Absolutely. And employers are creating new jobs and, there's just so much happening out there, and there's room for everybody. Everybody is employable, there's room for everybody, and there's the perfect company for everybody. And lemme just say for the people that may be listening to this that have interviewed at many places, or have been job searching for six or nine months, I see it a lot on LinkedIn, it's just, your time will come. But if you're doing the same things over and over again, and you're getting the same results, then maybe it's time to switch your focus, whatever that might mean to you, but there's jobs out there, jobs and things that you wanna do. Now is the time to grab them. It's all waiting for you. - Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Cathy, for taking the time to chat with us about how your business is using video. It's very interesting and you're in an interesting place, given this point in history. And to everybody who's watching and listening, thank you very much. If you like what you hear, please like, or subscribe and share this podcast with other folks. Cathy, this is the time when we used to do this in studio where we'd shake hands, so we just do the Zoom wave now, right? And, thank you very much. - Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. (progressive music)