The Monica Lewinsky Challenge: career change
for the high profile professional
Before Linda Tripp and Ken Starr entered her world, Monica
Lewinsky was headed for a public relations job at Revlon.
She would have been one among many attractuve young women
climbing the corporate ladder, anonymously.
Nowadays, Monica can't just show up in an employment agency
as an ordinary job applicant. Corporate jobs are closed to
her. She lends her name to diet products, talks to the media,
and pitches her line of handbags on the internet.
You -- and Monica?!
You probably have nothing in common with Monica Lewinsky,
but you may find parallels with her career dilemma. If your
job brings you money, visibility and status, you will face
unique challenges if you are displaced and forced to start
Rick called six months after he had been fired from a high-profile,
high-status, high-paying job, after twenty years of non-stop
For the first six months he had alternated between heavy
introspection ("What do I want to be when I grow up?")
and frantic bursts of activity (hiring a resume-mailing service).
"I'm ready to move!" Rick said.
"Keep your power"
When you find yourself in Rick's position -- or Monica's
-- you need to use your power. You probably can't walk through
the corporate door with a resume, like most people. You'll
need a creative strategy that might include starting a b usiness,
an extensive networking campaign, or a totally creative, off-the-wall
Can you get a "real" job?
Rick wanted a high-paying job with benefits and autonomy.
He had no idea where to begin and was astounded to learn that
his job hunt might take a lot longer than the six months he
Working with Cathy, he decided to start a business to create
a cover story -- and then he got hooked.
Guiding Principle: Keep Your Power
Rick's business may take off. He may decide he really likes
being his own boss and can't go back to corporate life. Or
a job may appear. Regardless, Rick regained ownership of his
career by proactively taking charge, not waiting for a magic
phone call to make everything all right again.
Employers want to hire people who fit their mold. The challenge
will be especially great for high-profile, high-visibility
professionals who have been displaced by forces beyond their
Even if you are not high profile, you may have an easier
time getting clients than getting a job. You may be competing
for increasingly rare senior or specialized positions in your
field. You may be a maverick. You may have made choices that
get you labeled as unstable or unmotivated.
When you don't fit the mold, you need to think like a free
spirit. The old rules won't hold. You can't be "just
like everybody else," no matter how hard you try.
Monica Lewinsky caught on fast. She's now hosting a television
program. Sure, she's taking pot shots from the media and from
ordinary people. And, wisely, she ignores them. They're not
walking a block, let alone a mile, in her moccasins...well,
Bottom line: Avoid jumping ship into an icy sea. Stay on
board as long as possible while you build your own boat. But
if you are thrown overboard, don't wait to be rescued by an
ocean liner. Build a raft, stay afloat and realize you are
embarking on the adventure of a lifetime.
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.