Terry McDougall

Terry Boyle McDougall is a Career Coach and CEO of Terry B. McDougall Coaching. She helps high-achieving professionals remove obstacles that keep them stuck so they can enjoy more success and satisfaction in their lives and careers. Before becoming a coach, Terry was a long-time corporate marketing executive where she led teams, developed strategies and advised senior leaders to drive business results. She is the author of Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms.

What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?

Three books that have influenced me greatly are: Courage Is A Three-Letter Word by Walter Anderson – The three-letter word is “YES.” My take away from this book is that courage is about taking action in the face of fear. It tells the stories of many accomplished individuals and how they consistently took action even when they were afraid. What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles – This was a book I received as a college graduation gift from my boyfriend’s mother. She instructed me to read the book before starting to apply for jobs. It was one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received because the book caused me to think about what my natural strengths and motivations were and to seek jobs that aligned with them. Now as a career coach 30 years later I am still teaching the gospel according to Bolles. In fact, though Richard Bolles passed away a few years ago, I was able to interview his son Gary Bolles, who is also a career counseling expert, for my book. The Art of Selfishness by David Seabury – This was the first time I was exposed to the idea of taking care of yourself first so that you’d have the capacity to take care of others. Prior to reading this book I always thought of “selfishness” as a bad thing. Since I read the book, I realize that it’s actually a very loving way to operate both for one’s self and for other people. It is in the same vein as the directive we get when we fly — put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else.

When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?

When I feel overwhelmed the first thing I do is acknowledge it and get curious about what is causing me to feel that way. Am I putting unrealistic pressures on myself? Is the pressure I’m feeling justified or is it caused by a limiting belief? What would I need in order to feel differently? Who can help me? Will a change of scenery help me gain needed perspective? I’ve found that sometimes a walk around the block can do wonders!

What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?

The most dangerous misperceptions that people have about job search is that – They’ll get a job simply by submitting a lot of applications online, – That preparation is not really necessary for interviewing because “you know yourself” and you can talk persuasively about yourself “off the cuff,” – Interviewers care about what your job responsibilities were — they really care about how you added value (and most people don’t consider that before they interview), – They’ve gotten jobs in the past and that things can’t have changed that much since they last interviewed 10 years ago — the job search process has changed a LOT and anyone who doesn’t prepare themselves could be in for a rude awakening and a long search.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

One of the most worthwhile investments I ever made was quitting my job and returning to school full-time to get an MBA. I was professionally ambitious but was not advancing at the pace I wanted to before I went back to school. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for school, but I was willing to take the chance on myself and I did figure out how to patch together the funding through loans, freelance work and an on-campus job that came with discounted tuition. That was a key turning point in my career and put me on a different trajectory in terms of the roles I was able to land, the opportunities that I had and earnings. I’m so glad I took the chance on myself.

If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?

I love the quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” We are amazing beings capable of miraculous things if we only have the courage to embrace our brilliance.

How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?

In a previous job, I was the “right-hand man” of the divisional head of marketing. When he left the company, I applied and was granted an interview for the job. I was qualified for the role but did not prepare well for the interview and basically bombed. It was humiliating and prompted me to hire a career coach to work on my interviewing skills so I’d be prepared for future opportunities. As it happened, the company went through the entire interview process and the candidate that they offered the role to declined it. The CMO decided to start the recruiting process all over again. I reapplied for the role and with my new-found interview skills, I advanced to be one of two final candidates who were interviewed by the CEO of the division. Unfortunately, the other candidate was offered the job and accepted it. However, the day I found out I didn’t get the job, a recruiter left me a message about an external opportunity and within two months I had two job offers and was actively interviewing with a third company. I ended up accepting one of the jobs which doubled my salary within the first year. I call that a very happy ending to what started as a huge humiliation.

Speak up and recognize that your perspective is unique.

Terry McDougall

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”?

My advice is to get very clear on what you like to do and to pursue a career that aligns with your interests and passions. Ignore any advice about going into a profession that provides a “good” living unless it’s something they are really interested in. As a career coach, I see too many people who took someone else’s advice to pursue a particular career without doing any introspection about whether they would enjoy the profession. Often by the time they admit that they don’t enjoy their work, they are making too much money to easily make a change. It’s better to start on a path that you’ll enjoy and grow within that profession. If you’re not sure if you’ll like it or what is involved, find someone who is currently doing it and ask them what it’s really like.

What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?

Speak up and recognize that your perspective is unique. Ask for what you want and advocate for yourself and your career. Others don’t know what you’re thinking or what you’re capable of if you don’t speak up.

What is currently wrong with the recruitment process today?

The process can sometimes leave candidates feeling de-humanized. Applying for jobs through online job boards is too easy and therefore companies are inundated with applicants, many of whom are not qualified for the roles they are applying for. Because HR departments have generally been downsizing over the past 10-20 years, they are using artificial intelligence to winnow down the ocean of resumes to a number that can be reviewed by humans. The only problem with this is that most people do not understand what to include in their resume and application to avoid being filtered out. I encourage clients in job search to spend more time on networking activities and less time on applying to jobs online. And when they do identify a job that’s a good fit on a job board, to use networking to try to get in front of the hiring manager rather than relying solely on the online application process.

What is the most common mistake you see people make when applying for a job?

Spending too much time applying for jobs on the job boards, and not doing enough networking. The vast majority of jobs are in the “hidden” job market and are never listed on Indeed or Linkedin. Even when jobs are posted there, often there are candidates who learned of the job openings through their network and can be interviewed for the role before any resumes even come through the job posting process. Most managers would prefer to hire a candidate who has been referred by a current employee or someone else in their network than take the chance of hiring a candidate who is completely unknown.

What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?

I advise my clients who are in job search to write up a list of 10-12 success stories from their career in the PAR format, meaning “What was the PROBLEM they faced?”, “What ACTION did they take?” and “What was the measurable RESULT?” Then I tell them to practice telling their success stories in 60-90 seconds. This is a way to prepare for interviews. When candidates go into interviews “cold” without having thought about or practiced how they’ll answer questions, they tend to come off as less confident.

Top things to AVOID putting on a resume?

Don’t include the following: – AgeMarital statusHobbiesReferences or the statement “references available upon request” – Your photographAny skills that you don’t want to use in your next job – Training or education that is not relevant to the position you’re applying for – Job experience that is more than 10-15 years old – your resume does not need to be a comprehensive record of every job you’ve ever had.