Episode 33: Taking a sabbatical wherever it leads with Becky Elliott


March 31st, 2020

45 mins 3 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

This week, we're doing a live career coaching session. We welcome Becky Elliott, a technologist and writer who is looking at what comes next in her career.

The career coaching session was recorded live and unscripted, but this time we weren't talking about a book or specific topic - we were tackling a real person thinking out loud about where they are and where they want to go. We thank Becky for coming on the show with vulnerabilty and honesty. The episode was recorded during a Stay At Home order in March 2020 from our homes in California, Texas, and Virginia.

Becky is an IT professional, and she had started a 2-month sabbatical as she figured out what was next for her. Now, six months later, she's juggling our current stay-at-home environment with her husband also working from home, home-schooling , and freelance writing -- and also thinking about a full-time role in the future that incorporates her technical skills with her writing and blogging.

Writing, both about personal development as well as technical topics, has become Becky’s passion.

Becky is an active part of the VMware vExpert technical community, and has spent a lot of her sabbatical at conferences like VMworld, Pure Accelerate, and NetApp Insight as a blogger and influencer. She gets a lot of energy from these community events.

She gets invited to come to these events, and sometimes even gets paid to write some blog posts at the event, but she feels she's not a "schmoozer" -- and like many people, she isn't comfortable doing a lot of selling to potential clients to get paid gigs at these events. On the other hand, Kat has met Becky at several of these events, and she has seen Becky act as a connector. Kat also notes that Becky is well-liked in the community, and her role as a connector may be one reason.

Ideally, Beck wants a job as a creator: creating content and blogging. She also loves the idea of championing other bloggers as some sort of community manager. She is inspired by Sam Moulton, who manages the the NetApp A-Team Advocacy Program, because she is a cheerleader, coach, and connector who makes opportunities for the members of the program.

At a career coaching event with Becky at a conference last year, Kat made an offhand comment about "whether you stay in tech or not." Suddenly Becky found herself contemplating the novel idea of leaving tech completely, but after thinking about it, realized that tech eally was home to her and she does want to stay in this area for her career. The innovation and change in tech, the ability to figure out how things work, and how tech continually helps to make things better are all things that appeal to Becky.

We talk about Becky’s writing portfolio, her websites and how she presents her writing, her many domain names, and how to best market herself. We advise Becky to consolidate and use one site or a service like Linktree to consolidate all the different information that she shares in different places. Make it easy for people to find you and all the information about your projects -- that's true for any audience, but especially true for a busy recruiter or hiring manager!

Becky’s #1 priority for her next role is to really like the people she works with and the product they're producing. We counsel her to use her active network and tell them that she’s ready for her next opportunity. She has been looking at Twitter and Slack channels to hear about roles directly from people who are hiring.

We challenge Becky to put together her "must-have" and "nice-to-have" lists and to go to her network with authenticity. There could easily be a friend-of-a-friend or a reader of her blog who would love to help her find the next role.

Becky’s current list of must-have's is cenered around values, not specific technologies she wants to work with. This is great, because it's clear that her values are important to her. We gave some examples about how to ask questions to test company values. You need to see how they show up in everyday work life.

We think it’s important to have a list of values and also a list of skills. Ask people who know you what would be important for you in a job. Giving yourself plenty of time to put together your list is really helpful so that you can think and reflect. And write your list in pencil -- because it’s a living document, and things can change, especially now!

Becky Elliiott on Twitter: https://twitter.com/beckylelliott

Becky’s web site: https://beckyelliott.com

*If you'd like to partcipate in a live coaching session with Liz and Kat, just get in touch! *