Sharita Hanley Pivots to Her Dream Career as a Writer Amid the Coronavirus Crisis: A Candidate Success Story

Aerial view of a laptop and notebook, from a writer's desk who found her new career with the help of Intoo outplacement.

Sharita Hanley always loved writing—so much so that she served as president of an International English Honor society as an undergraduate at Spelman College. But at the time she received her bachelor’s degree, many large publications were conducting layoff, and writing jobs were scarce.

“When I graduated from undergrad in 2011, the job market was pretty bad. Companies just didn’t have the money to pay. One writing job that I was offered said they paid only $30,000.”

So Sharita parlayed her skills into a more lucrative executive assistant position, over the years working at several different companies in that role. In each of those, she stepped up to take on writing projects, expanding and broadening her experience. “I knew I wanted to write, so I was also freelancing on the side and just trying to build up that skillset,” Sharita said.

But in March 2020, just as businesses started shutting down due to the coronavirus crisis, the digital agency Sharita was working for got acquired by another company—and Sharita was laid off.

“I started applying for executive assistant and writing jobs with two different resumes,” Sharita said. “And I just would get the, ‘Thanks, we were impressed, but not enough’ responses.”

That’s when she activated Intoo’s outplacement solution, a career transition service she’d been given by her former employer as part of her severance package that aimed to accelerate her path to land new and meaningful employment through unlimited one-on-one career coaching and job search support conveniently delivered online and on-demand. Sharita uploaded her resume to Intoo’s online platform for a professional review. Soon after, her career coach Natalie called.

“Natalie asked, ‘Well, where do you want to go? What do you want to do next? Do you want to continue to do this executive assistant role, or do you want to do something different?” I said, “I really want to write.” And Natalie said, ‘Okay, then let’s go for it.’”

Natalie helped Sharita revamp all aspects of her resume, from optimizing the formatting for applicant tracking systems to highlighting the writing-specific aspects of her work experience.

“Natalie was amazing,” Sharita said. “In every executive assistant position that I’ve had, I was writing different types of content, from newsletters to blog posts. Natalie pointed out that I could put on my resume that I worked as a junior content writer, noting in parentheses that it was part of my role as an executive assistant. Her advice really allowed me to bring those two skill sets together. I went from having one body of experience as a freelancer on my writing resume to having four or five different bodies of experience, including executive assistant jobs, internships and even a one-time job for a lifestyle magazine client. That was something I would have never ever thought to do in a million years.”

“Natalie also talked about adding more quantifiable information on my resume. A 300-word blog post is different from an 1800-word blog post, she said, and suggested putting in that information, as well as how many clients I’ve worked with in how many industries.”

Once the resume was finalized, Sharita decided to work on her LinkedIn profile. She logged onto the Intoo’s outplacement solution platform at her convenience, and when she was ready—with just one click—started an instant coach chat with Natalie.

“Natalie helped me tailor my LinkedIn profile to show more of my writing skill set. She said my resume and LinkedIn should be similar and definitely tell my story, but they should tell a cohesive story in different ways. Working together on that LinkedIn page was awesome.”

Once Sharita started sending her new resume out, the positive response she received was immediate.

“About two days after we finalized my resume, I had my first interview with a recruiter about a junior writer position I’d applied for who said, ‘I think your resume is perfect for WebMD.’ Then, when I spoke with the editor, she said, ‘I think you’re a shoo-in in for the company, and I would like for you to talk to our associate director.’ I had a video call with the associate director, then the recruiter called me back. He said, ‘Well, it turns out that all of the people that you talked to think that you will be a better fit for the online writer position, which is our associate position, higher up than the junior writer position. It comes with more money, and you’ll be able to write on a larger range of topics.’”

So less than two months after her layoff, Sharita accepted her dream job as the consumer content writer at WebMD.

“I love it at WebMD. It’s an amazing company. I’m writing video scripts, slide shows, medical reference pages, and even some feature stories. It’s already been an amazing experience.”

Despite the layoff, Sharita thinks warmly about the people she worked with and the experiences she had at her previous employer.

“There are a lot of people there that I’m very grateful for having met. I have no hard feelings. When I started at the company, it was just so warm. We could talk to the CEO on a first name basis. Those memories will always stick with me. It was where I needed to be at that time in my career. And they offered me Intoo’s outplacement solution. Career coaching really is an important benefit—a benefit for your future. I consider it an investment in my future, and I’m very grateful that my former company offered it.”

Now, she recommends Intoo’s outplacement solution to her former coworkers.

“I actually have been texting my coworker who was laid off on the same day as I was, telling her, please use this service,” Sharita said. “It’s just crazy to think about where I started back in March, when I thought, ‘I’m never going to find a job. Everybody’s being laid off.’ I attribute so much of my success to Intoo’s outplacement solution and my career coach, Natalie. I had the experience, but I had no idea how to communicate it on my resume and tailor it to each job. I think people underestimate the power of career coaches. They really are trained with a special skill set and education to help you tell your story better. I think more organizations should have career coaching as a benefit for their employees, for sure.”

“Intoo’s outplacement solution helped me get where I wanted to be and where I dreamed about being for many years. I’m very grateful for it. Working with my career coach Natalie was like having a professional friend. She was so open and accessible and informative and educational, but she was also very thorough, which is a nice combination. I don’t know if I would be where I am without her help.”

Intoo’s virtual outplacement helps companies protect their employer brand and helps transitioning employees land their next job 2.5 times faster than the national average time it takes to find employment—all without leaving their homes. Designed for employees of all levels, industries, and backgrounds, Intoo’s coaching-first, award-winning online platform accelerates career transition by connecting candidates with career coaches faster and by providing personalized guidance for each individual.

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

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