The best candidates for any job demonstrate self-awareness, focus, and clarity. And when you do land that interview, you will dazzle the interviewer with your in-depth knowledge and be able to give a compelling rationale for why you are so well-suited to join their team.”

Career Expert Ginny Clarke’s new eBook titled Career Mapping comes right on time as the graduation celebrations cool off and the new grads embark on their career paths.

The world of work has changed forever.  The only way to thrive in this highly competitive, technology-driven economy is to think of yourself as a “free agent,” someone who takes full responsibility for his or her own career.  That means figuring out what you want to do, both now and in the long-term, and making a plan to achieve it.  In her new book, CAREER MAPPING:  Charting Your Course in the New World of Work (Morgan James; August 2011) written with Echo Garrett, Clarke shows how anyone from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals, can zero in on – and win – the perfect job.

In an interview with Careerbright, coach and author Ginny Clarke presents valuable tips on how to plan on your career path, preprare for interviews and more; and note these tips are equally valid for anyone reentering the workforce or in career transition.

Q. Welcome Ginny and congrats on your new eBook Career Mapping! What was your inspiration and what is the most important message that you want to get across as the new grads or those reentering the workforce plan on their career path this year?

Ginny: My inspiration was my own experiences.  I chose to change careers 5 times, not because I was indecisive, but because as I evolved I sought new and different platforms to deploy my skills and passions.  Also, as anexecutive recruiter I couldn’t always help nearly as many people who wanted or needed it.  The book is my way of sharing insights into how to not only find a job, but by being more conscious and thoughtful, always being in position of strength, whether employed or not.  I want people to understand you create your job and career choices – no one else.  Even if you don’t have depth of experience, you can educate yourself, make some clear decisions, based on your preferences, and network your way into new opportunities.  Your degree and past experiences don’t have to define you.

Q. Career discovery path is an essential first step toward a satisfying career, what advice do you have for the new grads or those in college who are confused on which career path to pursue?

Ginny:  I say don’t worry.  I was a French and Linguistics major who became a college recruiter, went to business school, worked in banking, commercial real estate and executive search. Learn to dissect the elements of your major that might be applicable to what job interests you have. For example, if you were an art history major, describe your ability to research historical facts, analyze different artists paying attention to detail and knowledge of various cultures.  This ability can be applied in many ways, but it is incumbent on you to be the one to explain the relevance to your prospective employer.  Be able to describe how you think, what you know about yourself that allows you to make some definitive choices – at this stage of your career.  Having passion, conviction, a commitment to learning and a strong work ethic can carry the day.

Q. What according to you are the three most important tips you have when preparing for interviews?


1. Do your homework. Google the people or person you are meeting or ask for a bio; read the company’s annual report; insist on a job description to compare against your own background.

2. Manage the interview. Know how much time you have.  Keep your responses concise and on point; practice them.

3. Ask intelligent questions. Have 3 -5 questions ready and even if you run out of time, send them as a follow-up with your thank you.  Don’t ask about compensation in the first interview.

Q. Now there’s a large population of baby boomers retiring this year and in the coming years, but still want to explore available career options here after; what suggestions do you have for them?

Ginny: Baby boomers or Encore workers, as I call them in my book, are in the unique position of having valuable skills, but always needing to be current, especially with technology.  Here are a few tips:

1. Make sure all competencies and skills sets are up to date; get training if need be.

2. Stay current on local and global trends. Know what is important to younger generations; what they read, watch and care about. Seek global awareness, cultural and language competency and proficiency.

3. Engage in social media – it is  imperative. You are invisible if you aren’t on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter; be comfortable being a participant, not just a watcher.


GINNY CLARKE is the founder of Talent Optimization Partners, LLC, which provides corporate consulting and executive coaching services.  A sought-after speaker, she spent twelve years at Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s largest senior-level executive search firms, as a partner and the leader of the global diversity practice.  Prior to joining Spencer Stuart, Clarke spent several years in banking and ten years in the real estate investment management business.  She received her B.A. from the University of California, Davis and her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She is a longtime resident of Chicago.   To learn more, go to: