Susan Walker of Susan Walker Life Coaching and I talked about her work as a career advancement coach and co-coordinator of the WBON Burlington chapter. Susan shared her journey to coaching, as well as sage advice for those considering a career change.

Who Are You (as a Person)?

One of my first questions for Susan was about her LinkedIn profile. As a career coach, I knew she must have a good reason for introducing herself with a mix of professional and personal titles: Career Expert | Life Coach | MBTI® Professional | Aspiring Cyclist | Music Lover. 

“People want to know more about you as a person,” Susan explained. “It catches people’s attention. Your resume is ‘just the facts,’ but I believe that you can be more creative with your LinkedIn.” That creativity brings added benefits to Susan’s clients, who are typically searching for the next chapter in their careers. 

“We spend a lot of time at work. It’s important that it feels meaningful and like the best use of your talents,” says Susan, who works with clients to first identify their core values, and then helps them develop a plan. 

Photo Credit: Gillian Randall

The Benefits of Work with Meaning

One recent client wanted to find work with purpose, but hesitated over the pay cut she would take if she left her agency job. “She was looking for more mission-driven work and went through the program with me. She took out the calculator to really look at the pay and the benefits. And then she made the leap. Now she’s working at a not-for-profit that’s much more aligned with her core interests. She’s happier.”

Benefits are a big consideration for career-changing clients, and Susan wishes that healthcare wasn’t tied to a specific job. “People can’t move freely in this economy because they are stuck to the benefits. There’d be more entrepreneurship if people didn’t have to worry about that,” she explained. 

Her Business Evolution

Susan’s background in outplacement and college internships led her on the path to becoming a certified Life Coach, specializing in career change. “In a lot of aspects of life, even though you might think you know what to do, it’s more powerful to have someone with you. The coach’s job is to ask a lot of insightful questions, to help with goal-setting, get to action, and hold the client accountable. It’s hard to do that for yourself.”

Time for a New Job or New Business?

For clients who are considering starting a new business, she recommends a “try before you buy” approach.  She says to think of it like a college internship, and look for opportunities to make sure the leap is right for you, especially if it requires financial investment. 

Photo Credit: Gillian Randall

“If you can, you should dabble in it before you actually leave your day job. Make your mittens on the side, or ketchup, or whatever it is. You have to try it and see if it suits you.” Susan says that even if a client decides not to pursue starting a new business, they feel better about the decision having explored it. “Putting yourself through an organized process of considering entrepreneurship with a coach… even if you decide not to, there’s a sense of the nagging question having been put to rest. You can say to yourself, ‘I did my due diligence, I feel good about this decision,’ instead of having these ideas swirl around.”

She also recommends talking to solopreneurs through the WBON network and notes the particular value of WBON for self-employed Vermonters. “WBON is a community. The opportunity to get together with other women is important, because it can be lonely. Networking with other women makes you feel like you have power, and that you are part of a great group of people who you admire. It’s very motivational.

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WBON members represent a diversity of industries, perspectives, and experiences. Be inspired by our Member Spotlight posts, an intimate look at one member, written by another WBON member. This month’s Member Spotlight was written by WBON member Amanda Reid, Wanderness.co