Sarah Doody - Product strategy when the product is you


Are you struggling with your job search or unhappy with your current role? Listen to this episode with Sarah Doody! We talked about applying product strategy to your job search so you can accelerate the process. Sarah also shares advice on the actionable steps you can take to design your career path. Listen to the full episode for more advice on growing your online presence!

🔥 Get creative to boost your online presence!

Work on your website and portfolio, but don’t forget to add value to our industry through articles, social media connections, and networking. Over time, staying active in online communities and giving back to the industry will organically grow your presence.

💡 Get out of your own head and apply the product strategy to your job search!

You already know how you work on a product. When you apply the product strategy to your job search, you will accelerate the process. Remember that you are the product, your portfolio and resume are your marketing materials, and your network can help seal the deal as your sales team! Changing your thought process in this way will help you move more quickly toward the new job you want.

Product strategy when the product is you

In episode 39 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Sarah Doody, Founder and CEO of Career Strategy Lab, a job search and career accelerator program for people in UX, tech, and product. Sarah started as a UX Researcher and Designer with different startups in New York City. She opened a research and design consultancy in 2012 and is now focused on career development and coaching with Career Strategy Lab.

During our chat, Sarah shares how she strategically designed her career path and grew her network while honing a critical skill she believes launched her into her successful career! We also discussed Sarah's 3-part product strategy to propel your career path, and the top myth UX professionals believe about recruiters.

Sarah Doody & Seth Coelen on The Product Design Podcast

How Sarah designed her career path

Earlier in Sarah's career, she worked for a startup in New York, where she realized her career path was not going in the direction she had hoped. She sat down and created a career roadmap for herself. The roadmap included what she was currently doing, her previous experience, and what she wanted to be doing in the future. She also listed people she looked up to who did the type of work she wanted to do and detailed the actionable tasks needed to move toward her goals.

One of the goals was to create a social presence, and the task was to start consistently writing articles. This action changed the trajectory of Sarah's career when she wrote Why We Need Storytellers at the Heart of Product Development, which went viral, was published in UX Magazine, and led her to the opportunities that have gotten her to where she is today.

How to grow your network while honing your writing skills

Sarah shared how she initially started her consultancy business when she decided to leave a job that was not taking her down the career path she envisioned. She quit without a plan, but because of the size and strength of her network, she confidentially made that decision and ended up being asked to stay on as a consultant.

Although Sarah does not recommend quitting a job without a backup plan, she shares how she grew her network to the point that it made her feel more comfortable leaving a position where she was not growing.

🔥 Form relationships on social media platforms.

Sarah found that Twitter offered her a community where she could establish relationships with others in the industry. Over time, her network grew organically because of the active thought leadership she shares on social platforms and her website, along with all the things she has done in her career to become a leader in our industry.

💡 Create your website early.

Give yourself a platform where you can have more control because social media constantly changes. Your own website is the perfect place to showcase all of your work, not just design work. You can also use it to collect email addresses by adding value to our industry and grow your network by building an email list you can use in the future. Sarah used her website to showcase her work, collect emails, and post her blog articles. These blog articles not only got her thoughts out into the world but ended up leading to a massive break in her career!

“You're going to have to write in your career, whether it's writing emails, writing reports, writing research, discussion guides, or your resume. The act of writing and becoming a better writer will help you in so many ways.”

✍️ Start writing and put yourself out there to build your online presence!

Create a plan to begin adding value to the industry. Writing articles is a fantastic way to get started. Initially, Sarah decided she would write a specific number of articles per month and stayed consistent! When she started, she would write articles responding to other career-related articles and summarizing relevant reports. Over time, Sarah began having her own thoughts and ideas, so she would also write original blog articles. This process helped her gain confidence in sharing her work, and it also allowed her to become a stronger writer over time!

Applying a 3-part product strategy to propel your career path

Sarah has worked with so many people through the stages of getting ready to apply and interviewing that she has noticed three things people need to focus on: Product, Marketing, and Sales. When it comes to your career, it is essential to recognize how applying all three parts of the product strategy can help you through the process of landing the job you want.

In the full podcast episode, Sarah shares even more ways that product strategy can apply to your job search and how you can accelerate your search when you use this way of thinking!

🎯 Product = you!

Get clear on what you can bring to a new role. What skills and experience do you have? What features do you want to add to make the product more compelling? Determine the features and skills you want to focus on now versus down the road because you can’t have all the features next week. Create your product roadmap and figure out where to focus first!

📢 Marketing = materials that tell your story.

When you are on the search for a job, your marketing materials are essential. They include things like your LinkedIn profile, portfolio, resume, cover letters, and even cold emails you send out to make connections and grow your network. Freshen up all of your marketing materials with each job search and, better yet, tailor them to every application!

💰 Sales = your network is key in closing the deal.

Your network is your sales team when the product is you! Closing the deal is not just about your ability to articulate what you are looking for in an interview or negotiate when you get a job offer. You also need the right people to go to (or get you the proper introduction) that can lead you to the job you want! Start actively and strategically building your network now to be able to lean into it when you are ready to start the job search process!

Sarah Doody
“Invest in yourself as much as you invest in the products that you work on, because you're the most important product you're ever gonna work on.”

Thank you so much, Sarah!

WOW! That was a fantastic, advice-filled discussion with Sarah, and she provided many actionable steps to take to get your career path moving in a direction that suits you. We are grateful for Sarah sharing so much of her knowledge and expertise during our chat!

Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes how Sarah designed her career path, how you can accelerate your job search, and the top myth UX professionals believe about recruiters. Don't forget to follow Sarah on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and check out her website to watch what is going on at Career Strategy Lab!

Where to find Sarah

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