It was my pleasure to be interviewed by Alexandra Deubner on the Follow Your Dreams Summit in February 2019 along with 20 expert panellists around the globe, who also focus on helping their clients take control of their lives.
In this interview I provide my top tips on how to make a successful career change, how to take control of our self-limiting beliefs and how to leverage LinkedIn for career success. Alexandra also asks me to share my career journey – just talking about it reminded me of what an amazing ride it has been! Enjoy our interview here, or watch our interview on YouTube.
I also offered a free offer for listeners – access to my Masterclass: 3 Secrets to Personal Branding for Career Success – you can also register for free here. Click the video to find out what it’s all about!
I look forward to seeing you in my 3 Secrets to Personal Branding for Career Success Masterclass!
Here’s the full transcript of my interview with Alexandra Deubner in the Follow Your Dreams Summit.
Alexandra: Welcome everyone to the Follow Your Dreams Summit. My name is Alexandra Deubner. I’m a career coach from Vienna, Austria. And today I have the honour of interviewing Jane Jackson from Sydney, Australia. Welcome Jane.
Jane: Oh, thank you so much on Alexandra. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be on this summit.
Alexandra: And we’re so happy to have you Jane. You’re a career management coach. You are a speaker and a LinkedIn trainer on a mission to make careers guidance accessible to all who need it. And you also wrote a book. You’re the author of the number one Amazon Bestseller, Navigating Career Crossroads. And you are also the host of award winning podcast, YOUR CAREER.
You have 18 years of coaching experience and a background in PR, fitness, FMCG, education and coaching. You provide your personal branding and career transition coaching to professionals seeking clarity and confidence. You have been featured on Sky News Business, the Huffington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Elle Magazine, Seek, CareerOne, Cosmopolitan and Australian Women’s Weekly. And I’m really so happy to have you here. We will talk about all of this, and it’s a real pleasure to have you on board.
Jane: Oh, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you, Alexandra.
Alexandra: My first question for you on this Follow Your Dreams Summit is, tell our audience a little bit more about your career and your dreams and how you followed them?
Jane: When we start off in our careers, most of us don’t really know what we’re doing. And I certainly was one of those because when I was little, all I really wanted to be was a vet because I love animals and I’m a crazy cat lady. And I think it’s every little girl’s dream or every little boy’s dream is to look after animals. And we just love them so much.
And here’s where my story really begins. As I got a little bit older, what happened was my father passed away when I was very young and he was a Cambridge scholar, he was an academic, but my mother who was really, really lovely, she never finished high school. So I had this very academic father and a mother who was very, very loving. She’s Chinese and my father was English and we all spoke Chinese at home. My Mum didn’t speak English. And at the age of only 49, my dad passed away when I was 11 years old.
Jane: And consequently, I had to figure things out for myself, especially when I was choosing O levels and A levels. And so I made my own decisions, but they weren’t really what was my true calling because I didn’t have any guidance. I started my career as a graphic designer and I wasn’t very good at it, much as I’d love to say I was!
I went to Minnesota and I got my degree in technical illustration and graphic design, went back to Hong Kong where I grew up and that was home and I started working as a graphic designer. But you have to be a really good one to earn decent money in this field. And so, what I could do rather well was talk! And so I transitioned into public relations and did my freelance graphic design on the side. And that’s how my career started.
Alexandra: And how did you often make a career change? Because I think there are lots of people who have doubts and are uncertain if they you should, but still stick with a career that they may be unhappy with. How did you manage to make this move?
Jane: Oh, Alexandra, I had so many, so many changes. It wasn’t until I turned 40 before I found my true calling. And so from public relations, which I actually enjoyed, I was working agency side in Hong Kong, I travelled to London and I started working a client side in PR as well. But I found that I didn’t really enjoy it so much and I thought, “What else could I do?” And I thought, it’d be kind of fun to fly for British Airways and they were advertising at the time, so I applied and there were hundreds and hundreds of us. And it was quite an interesting time because there were panel interviews, and there were case studies, and we had to do language. I speak Cantonese, so that was quite helpful. And I managed to get through, and so I started flying with British Airways. But you know what? I get air sick. I get terribly sick.
I’m fine when I’m sitting down, but not when I’m saying, “Coffee, tea or what would you like? The chicken or the fish?” And so I took so many air sickness pills when I was flying. I thought, “I can’t do this long time term. It can’t be good for me.” And so at that time my husband and I decided that we wanted to have children and I thought, “Now, what could I do after I have children that I can manage my time well and still enjoy the work that I was doing?” And at the time I was very heavily into fitness. I was running marathons and I thought I’d like to train to become a fitness instructor. So during my pregnancy I did my training, then I had my first baby, and when I got fit again, I started teaching aerobics.
Jane: And I just enjoyed it so much because I was able to control my hours. It was my own business basically, and I could keep fit and it was music, and it was dancing, and it was fun, and it was those things I really enjoyed. And so I had a good four years doing that in London. We then moved to Singapore and I was following my husband’s job at the time. In Singapore I set myself up as a fitness instructor there as well and I ended up being sponsored by Nike because I’ve got a silver medal in the Nike National Aerobics Championship. I’ve thrown myself 100% into everything that I do. And so if I’m going to do something, I just want to be as good as I possibly can be. So it was really good doing that. And so that ended up being a really good career and I could balance the children and my teaching all the classes very, very well.
But after a while I started to miss the corporate life because when I was working in public relations, it was very corporate. And I thought, “I wonder how I can get back into corporate again.” And because I was used to being a trainer and I had some experience in amateur drama as well because I used to do that on the side, it was so much fun, a lot of people ask me, “Jane you do this training, don’t you? Can you come and talk to some of the organization development leaders in our organization?” And this was at Credit Suisse in Singapore, “And can you create a training program for us for confidence building?” Because they’d noticed that this is what I seem to do reasonably well when they were observing me. And I said, “Yes.” Although I’d never done that before.
Jane: And so sometimes when you haven’t done something before and an opportunity lands in your lap, what do you do? Do you say, “No, I’m scared. I can’t do it.” Or do you run with it? And so I thought, “I’m going to say, ‘Yes.’ And let’s see how well I do.” But of course when they said, “Yes, Jane, you go ahead and do it.” I said, “It’s going to take me quite a few months to come up with this program that you want for confidence building.” And so I created a program called yes I can. It actually took me six months to create this program because it’s amazing and I ended up conducting it for Credit Suisse in Singapore for about three years.
Jane: And I really enjoyed that. At the same time, the years had been ticking by, there was an opportunity to join an outplacement company called DBM in Singapore. And I interviewed for it and I didn’t even know what a career coach was because we were looking for an outplacement career coach. And when I interviewed, I thought, “This sounds really interesting. This is what I really want to do.” Because in my other roles I have been helping people, but this one as a career coach is one that you really help people, you can make a difference in their lives. And so I trained to become a career coach and that was 18 years ago, Alexandra, a long time now. You know when you do something and it just feels right? And it’s like your purpose, your passion, your direction all rolled into one, that’s what happened.
Alexandra: Wow, this is great and I’m also happy to hear it again. Several experts already shared it. That you don’t need to know immediately what you want, right? You just go and along the path you will figure out what you’re good at and what you love. Right?
Jane: The thing is that so many people say, “I need to find my passion.” But then if you don’t know what your passion is, it’s very hard to find it. I always say it’s important to do a personal audit to find out what it is that you actually enjoy doing, what are you pretty good at, because that really is a bit more of the sweet spot because if you’re good at something and you happen to like it, then that’s great. That means you’re going to really be in the moment when you’re working on that thing. But if you’re very good at something, and this happens to a lot of my clients, they’re very good at something, but they don’t actually like it. And they keep doing it and doing it, they end up experiencing burnout, and they get very frustrated, and they start to think after a few years, “Is this all there is?” There’s something missing.
Jane: And it’s important to understand what makes you tick, really. So what your values are, your career values, your personal values, what you can do, what you’re really good at, what your transferable skills are, and then do an audit so that you can assess, “What are the possible careers that might be interesting?” After that, you have to start talking to people. And if there are opportunities, I always think, “You know what? If it sounds interesting, you’ve done your due diligence, and you’ve researched, why not give it a go and see?” Most of us have between 10 and 12 roles in our lifetime, but some people, they have even more. It’s very seldom that people have one career for their entire life these days. And the portfolio career is a good thing.
Alexandra: And this is really helpful, the 12 roles I can do as well.
Jane: Well, I’m sure that you’ve transitioned many times as well. And so many people, they actually transition into corporate, first of all, and then after a while, they may be experience a redundancy. I work predominantly with people who have been working in their career, and then there’s been organizational change, and they feel a little bit of fearful, and then suddenly the axe falls, and there’s redundancy. You know when you make a change and it’s your decision, it’s actually much easier to take, but if someone else makes that decision for you, it’s really hard to take.
Jane: And so when there’s a redundancy, usually you feel a bit fearful. There’s that little voice in your head going, “Oh, why me? Why me? I must’ve done something wrong.” But it really is a business decision. I help my clients to regain their self-confidence again, rebuild who they are, and help them to assess exactly what makes them tick, and then we revamp their resumes, and LinkedIn profiles, and show they’ve got a really strong personal brand, and how to, interview, and network, and to negotiate. So I love doing that because when people know what to do, they feel empowered and when they’re empowered, they feel stronger, and confident, and then they can do what they really want to do.
Alexandra: I couldn’t agree more Jane. So there was so many things now that you talked about that I wanted to say, “Yeah, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about this.” So there are many things, but can I ask you really quickly … because you mentioned LinkedIn and I think it is an important network also for everyone around the world. Can you give us advice since you’re also LinkedIn trainer. What are the two or three most important things that people should take care of regarding their LinkedIn account?
Jane: First of all, be authentic. That’s really important because don’t try and project a brand or an image that isn’t you simply because you think it might be a good idea. Always project authenticity because if you don’t, you’re not being true to yourself and you’re going to attract the wrong type of opportunities as well and ultimately you won’t be happy. So if you are yourself and you attract the right people with the same values as you as well, or organizations that represent those values, then then you’re going to be on the right track. The typical things that people tend to talk about with LinkedIn is, “You need to have strong cover image, you’ve got to have a great profile photo, and a tagline, and all that.” I’m sure that you’ve already spoken about that with many of the career coaches as well because that’s one of the things career coaches help their clients with.
Jane: But for me, number one, is authenticity. Number two, is tell the story because what is your story? People don’t just want to know, “I’m a career coach with 18 years’ experience doing A..B…C…” What they want is, who is Jane? Or who is Alexandra, and what is it about them that makes them tick? Because if your audience can resonate and they feel like, “Oh, I really get them.” Or, “They really get me.” Then we can work well together as we know, like and trust them. So be authentic, tell the story, and give some examples of successes as well. Because if you’re looking for a job, I would say, make sure you’ve got your tangible accomplishments in your experience section so people don’t just have a job description, people have some tangible results from you that you actually make a difference. So maybe you’ve saved time, saved money, improved profits, streamlined processes. You get stuff done. You can call it G.S.D., getting stuff done. The fact is, is that your hands on, you get stuff done and because of you, the organization is a better place. So that’s important.
Alexandra: I mean it’s really important also, I think, for people to realize that because these three things are so valuable also for interviews and for the whole job application process. So it’s authentic, it’s so relevant. But what would you say, because I sometimes suggest to my clients, if you find somebody, figure out who is an idol or a hero for you or somebody you would like to be in the future and then think about contacting this person to ask them if they are close by, ask them out for coffee. It’s like, “Would you tell me more about your career or what you’re doing?” Because sometimes we don’t know what it is that the other person does, we just hear this name or this title and think, “Oh yeah, that sounds great.” But we have no idea. Would you also recommend it?
Jane: Absolutely. Finding a mentor is one of the best ways to fast track your career and there are so many careers out there that we probably haven’t even heard of. When I was growing up and I was choosing careers, I didn’t know what a career coach was. I don’t think they even existed. There was a career counsellor at school, but that’s very different from what I do now. And careers, they change so much and different job titles change. And especially today, especially with tech changing so very, very rapidly and the world of work is changing so rapidly too that the more people we talked to and we ask them, “Hey, you know what? I know your job title is, oh, I don’t know chief information officer. Can you tell me a day in the life of a chief information officer? What is it like?” Or, “What is it like to be an accountant?” Or, “What is it like to be a chief financial officer?” Or whatever it may be because there are so many ins and outs of the role. And you know what? Most people find that when they start to talk to other people, there are a lot of similarities with every role. You need to have good communication skills. You need to have empathy with others as well.
Jane: But certainly finding out a day in the life of someone’s job helps you to understand the day to day, not just the glamorous sounding side of the job description, but what is it like on a day to day basis because everyone’s got a certain amount of admin to do, everyone’s got a certain amount of communication that they need to do. Perhaps there are leadership skills that they need to learn in order to be successful as well. So the more they found out, the better. But on LinkedIn, interesting thing is, is that what I love about LinkedIn is you can use the filters in order to find the right people as well in the right organizations. And it’s something that I teach in my LinkedIn for career success online program that I have as well. And I guide people step by step what they need to do in order to leverage LinkedIn for their own success.
Alexandra: Now, how can people overcome their fear? You were also talking about fear before and I think it’s really important. That’s why I also have it in my subtitle after summit that we need to overcome our limiting beliefs and just believe in ourselves and try and overcome fear. How would you suggest that we can address somebody, even though we don’t know this person, because we feel he or she might seem superior and unreachable? How can we overcome our doubts and fear on that?
Jane: We all have self-limiting beliefs and they’re sitting on our shoulder and we need to knock them off our shoulder because they’re like this voice in your ear, always saying, “Oh, you’re not good enough.” Or, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Or, “Oh, they won’t want to talk to you.” But what I’ve found is that I reach out to so many people who I find are fascinating, but don’t reach out to people and ask for something from them. Reach out and give something of value first of all because when you reach out to someone and say, “Hey, I really enjoyed that talk that you did somewhere.” So if you’re reaching out to someone who’s reasonably high profile, then mention what it is that you’ve seen them do because it means that you are genuinely interested in them and what they can do.
And then if you’ve done your research, you’ll probably be able to find something that will be of interest to them as well. And you can send them a link to an interesting article, or something that might just capture their attention, or some recommendations of awesome interesting reading then. Then they might think, “Oh, well that was someone who is providing value to me.” And they respond. There are too many people are on LinkedIn who just click connect, connect, connect. And there’s no personalized note as well. On my LinkedIn profile, if people read the summary, it says, “If you want to connect, please personalize your invitation.” And if you mentioned cats, golf, or dancing, it’s more likely I’ll respond. So there you go, I’ve already told you what to mention, you talk about cats. I’m a crazy cat lady. Talk about cats, I will respond for sure.
But so many people just click connect where they have a generic message to connect saying, “I really like your profile. I’d like to connect.” Well, why would I want to connect with them? I don’t think they genuinely read my summary, so they don’t even know me and they’re just collecting numbers. I don’t want to be a number. No one else wants to be a number either. So make sure when you’re reaching out to someone who you’re not even sure if they’re going to respond to, personalize that invitation and make it valuable and interesting to them. And as I say, if you don’t reach out, nothing will happen. If you do reach out, perhaps nothing will happen, but there is a likelihood that something good will happen. So just do it.
Alexandra: Great advice. Thank you. I second you on that, really. Great advice. I would also like to talk about overcoming obstacles. Was there any point in your time where you say, “Wow, that was a really big obstacle.” And can you tell us more about how you overcame it?
Jane: Well, one of the most challenging times in my life was when I was going through a divorce, and I had to move country, and I had teenage children, and I had financial worries obviously because of the divorce, and a couple of years later, my mother also passed away. So I had all of the major stressors in life in one very, very short period of time. The job lost, the death of a loved one, moving country, teenage children, financial worries. It was very stressful. And I wasn’t sure how I was going to make because all that I wanted was to make sure that my children were going to be okay and my mother was going to be okay. And so I felt there was great weight on my shoulders and I needed to make sure that I could handle it. And I needed to get a job and in a new country that I didn’t know because I hadn’t lived in Sydney before.
Jane: And so there was a time when I honestly thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it. And it’s so hard when you just think, “Oh my goodness, the world is against me. I don’t know how I’m going to do it.” But what I did was, I took a step back. I made sure I could manage my stress levels. That was the most important thing. So I made sure that I was eating right because there was a time when I just didn’t want to eat anymore. It’s like I had no appetite because everything was so terrible. So I made sure that I had solid nutrition. I exercised because I found every time I did aerobics exercise, I felt better. I was meditating and I’ve been a lifelong meditator. I do transcendental meditation and it’s fantastic for clearing the head. And I’ve created some of my own meditations that I use for my clients as well because it works so well. And so I did that.
Jane: And one of the most important things was I sought help. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and as women, so often we feel, we’ve got to maintain this facade and make sure that everything is fine and not let anyone know that anything’s wrong. But I needed help and so I had to just swallow my pride and ask for help and luckily I have a few really, really good friends that I could tap into. I only had one friend at the time in Sydney because it was a new country to me. That was why it was so challenging, but I relied on her. I opened up and she just helped me to have a completely new perspective because when you share a problem, really it’s like that old saying, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Jane: It didn’t sound so bad when I was saying it out loud. And basically I just had to get on with stuff, getting stuff done. This is why I always say GSD. Even when things are bad, you just got to keep on, you’ve got to keep at it, and you just don’t take no for an answer because you’re going to get knocked back. So there are going to be people who say, “No.” To you. But so if one person says, “No.” It’s their loss, you just keep talking. And I was knocking on doors, and reaching out to people, and making sure that I could market myself effectively. And I leveraged the people and my reputation from when I was in Singapore too, to make recommendations for me in Sydney. And so basically I marketed myself, I reinvented my career, and I couldn’t be happier now. It’s fantastic.
Jane: My girls have grown up. They’re now in their early 30s and they’re wonderful career women in their own right. I’ve rebuilt my business. I run my own coaching practice. I built my brand. You have to build a brand. If you don’t have a solid brand, no one’s going to come to you. And so I’m known as the careers lady and I’m just so happy that I am because it means people will come to me. If you Google, you look for a career coach in Sydney, a career coach in Australia, you’ll find me on page one. That’s my most [inaudible 00:24:24] which is kind of how you found me. But it’s so good because that means people can Google, they’ll find me and I’m on a mission to make careers guidance accessible and affordable to the world. And so that’s why I’ve got the book and I’ve got your career podcast, my career podcast that I’ve been running for four years now where it’s careers advice for free, and I interview people who’ve made amazing career changes, and it inspires other people.
Jane: So honestly, if I can do it, little old me, you can do it. And all it takes is self-belief , knowing how to build your brand so that you can attract the opportunities that you want, get the job promotions that you want, and let people know who you really are because if people know you, like you, and trust you, they’ll want to work with you, and then you just have to deliver. And thank goodness, touch wood. So far I’ve managed to deliver all of my clients that I’ve worked with. So it’s a wonderful profession being a career coach. I love it.
Alexandra: No, I can see that. But I think you need a little bit more than what you said because also this determination and tenacity that you definitely bring with you, not giving up your … was it just GSD? I wrote it all.
Jane: I love the GSD, get stuff done. Honestly, because people will say, “No.” And you know what? If you ask for something and someone says, “No.” Well ask someone else. And if they say, “No.” Ask someone else. The third, fourth, or fifth person will say, “Yes.” If they know what’s good for them, because it’s important to be able to pitch because if you can’t pitch, people won’t know what you can do. And you know you need to have little like, here I’ll just give you a little tip, for example, you might have a short pitch and then I make it a bit longer and longer. So basically, “I’m Jane Jackson, I’m a career management coach.” So instantly that’s a short pitch, right? Or, “I’m Jane Jackson, I’m a career management coach and I specialize in transition coaching.” So now you’ve got my name, you know what my title is, and you know I specialize in something.
Jane: So if someone specializes in something, it means they’re pretty good at it, right? So that’s why I say, and I specialize in transition coaching. If people need more, then I say, “Basically what I do is I help senior executives through the emotional rollercoaster of redundancy.” And because almost everyone in corporate has experienced or been exposed to redundancy in the past, people go, “Oh yes, I know, I know.” And then we can have a chat about it. So that’s a short pitch and it’s very easy even on an airplane when you’re sitting down and somebody goes, “Hey, so what do you do?” I’ll go on, “Career management coach, specialized in transition coaching.” “Oh, what does that mean?” “Basically what I do is I help people, help them to find their dream careers or whatever it might be.”
Jane: So you need to know what to say succinctly so that people get it and right away, whether you’re in finance, or operations, or human resources, or running your own business, you have to be able to pitch. If you can pitch and it’s part of your brand, then people will get you and they’ll know how to recommend you, or they might even think, “Oh, I think I need you.” Then that will work.
Alexandra: Thank you. And it’s actually so important to also be clear for yourself. Right? What you are doing. Yeah. So, so many of my clients also are like, “I’m doing [inaudible 00:27:44].” And then they lose it. I said, what happens if you’re willing in the elevator with the manager or possible employer and they asked you who are you? And you can’t answer this. So it’s also for yourself also to be clear to the outside.
Jane: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I never just say, “Oh, I’m Jane. I’m a career coach.” Because that’s a bit like saying, “Oh, I’m Jane. I’m an IT.” Or, “Oh, I’m Jane. I’m an accountant.” I mean it doesn’t really tell anybody anything. So I love working with my clients to help them refine their pitch so that it’s really compelling.
Alexandra: Perfect. You also mentioned the podcast and we are coming almost to the end. So what I would like to talk shortly about your podcast, your career. You actually help people and inspire them because you interview people who then have amazing career changes. And can you share maybe some insights that you’ve gained from this?
Jane: The one I’ve gained is everybody has a story. Everybody is interesting. Honestly, because the people I’ve met … there was one lady who I interviewed and she was a school teacher for much of her life and she was looking after a special needs child as well. And at the age of 40, she thought something happens when we’re 40. We decide we needed to make a change. I guess this midlife crisis is a real thing. And she was saying, “It was time for me.” And all she ever wanted to do in addition to being a teacher was to be an interior designer. And I’ve interviewed her on my podcast, Robyn Hawk. She’s amazing. And she’s transitioned from being a teacher for many, many years in to running her own business as an interior design very successfully.
Jane: And there was another gentleman, Doyle, who’s phenomenal. He was a Canadian air force pilot and now he’s a digital media guru running his own business. And I mean there’s so many people who’ve done fascinating things and I love talking about what they wanted to be when they were little, how they got through their career transitions, and what they’re doing now because it inspires other people to think, “Well, if they can do it, I can do it as well.” And so for me, I’ve had so many career changes and honestly, if I can do it, anybody can do it. And all you need is to have someone sometimes to hold your hand a little bit and guide you so you have the right steps to take. Because I don’t want people to take 20 years to find out who they’re supposed to be. I’d rather go through this process that I go through with my clients so that they can become who they should be or want to be now. And that’s the exciting thing. And yeah, I really, really enjoy it.
Alexandra: Perfect. Is there any final message that you would like to share with our audience before we come to the free gift?
Jane: I would say believe in yourself and create your own magic because if you believe in yourself and you work hard … there will always be work hard in there, nothing just happens and falls onto your lap. But believe in yourself that you can do it. Work as hard as you can to get what you really want and create your own dreams.
Alexandra: Wonderful. This is a wonderful end of our interview, but before we leave you also have a free gift for our audience. Would you like to tell us about it?
Jane: I have so many free career support resources on my website, but this one is very special because it’s the “3 secrets to personal branding for career success”. It’s a free masterclass for your lovely listeners. And so all you need to do is to go to www.janejacksoncoach.com/3secrets . I’m sure you’ll have it in your show notes as well or you just go to my website, www.janejacksoncoach.com and you will find it.
Alexandra: Wonderful. Thank you so much Jane. Thank you for your time and for all your insights. I highly appreciate it and I’m sure our audience did as well. Thanks so much for being here.
Jane: Oh, it’s my pleasure. And may I say, Alexandra, you’re doing wonderful things and it’s my pleasure to get to know you as well. So thank you for inviting me. It’s been an honour.
Alexandra: Thank you very much and thank you everyone who listened. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. It was a pleasure and I wish you all a wonderful day. Don’t forget to follow your dreams!