2018 Conference Brief
Interview with Tom Powner
By Jean Austin, NRWA Conference Advisory Chair & Board Member
A career-changer himself and proof it can be done, Tom resigned from a 25-year career in business development, operations and sales leadership to create Career Thinker Inc. He was motivated by years of viewing thousands of poorly crafted resumes and interviewing more than 1,000 unprepared applicants. His goal is to make a difference by providing people with career services, coaching, technology, inspiration and confidence to motivate them to act and advance their careers. He has a broad range of clients, but his sweet spot is preparing future executives. Tom’s vision for CareerThinker.com is to create a gateway for clients to find career services and choose a career professional from a best-matched list.
You have earned an industry-wide reputation as a LinkedIn expert. Where did your interest in technology, and eventually to social media, begin? And what can those of us who are not as technologically proficient learn from your journey?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had natural curiosity with technology. At age 16, my first computer was a Commodore VIC-20. I designed an ice hockey game for Atari that went to preproduction but didn’t get released. My college education is in computer science, but back then programmers were not rock stars and were placed in cold, windowless basements to work. That was not my style, so I went in a different career direction.
My advice to those who are not proficient in technology and software is “don’t be scared; you can’t break it!” When I started Career Thinker, if a task or a function seemed too tedious I would search for a tech solution to make it easier. There are many online video tutorials which can guide you and build your confidence. Also, you don’t need to purchase software and get stuck with it, since many companies have free 30-day trials or will allow you to test it out by purchasing a monthly membership before committing to a yearly one. Six months ago, based on a recommendation from a colleague, I started using Basecamp as my project management software. It has been a great solution to what used to be a messy process.
You and Brittney Beck will be kicking off the 2018 NRWA Conference with a rare opportunity for conference attendees: a truly in-depth look at LinkedIn, covering content, networking, and the technical “backstage.” Can you provide a glimpse of what you will address and potential takeaways?
Today, in our industry, we are expected to do more than be a resume writer in career campaigns. Companies are now investing in social recruitment to attract and fill their talent needs, and LinkedIn is nested in social recruitment. We need to be prepared for the changing landscape of how people connect to career opportunities. The biggest takeaway from attending the LinkedIn workshop will be a more in-depth understanding of how LinkedIn works, which will boost your confidence and can lead to more LinkedIn sales. Visit this link for a list takeaways https://www.thenrwa.com/2018-Preconference-Workshop
You started your business in 2011, and in less than five years became extremely successful. What do you feel were the top 3 influencing factors in your success?
1. Business common sense and a strong work ethic that I learned from my parents (I worked in the family business from the age of 10).
2. Knowing that your career doesn’t have to be your life’s passion, but you do need to have passion in what you do. I like the business, enjoy the chase, and I get to make a difference and impact peoples’ lives.
3. This might sound corny, but I believe in Karma—what you put out to the universe comes back in folds, positive or negative. Many members of the NRWA thank me for sharing my views and tips, but I get back so much more in different ways.
You come from a sales background—a definite advantage in this industry. How can those of us who are not naturals in this arena be more effective in closing sales?
My top three pieces of advice when it comes to selling
1. You must believe in the products or services you are representing, their value, and how they solve your clients’ needs or problems. We sell solutions.
2. You need to be likable and build trust; people buy from those they like and trust.
3. Sell on value, not price, and have confidence in your pricing. If a prospect smells weakness when you tell the cost, it will be hard to close the sale.
I’m also doing a break-out session at the conference, “Converting Sales Conversations into Paying Clients,” where I cover what I consider the important steps to close a sale.