A Career Consultant on Finding Your Focus and Getting What You’re Worth

Marilyn Moats Kennedy is the founder of Moats Kennedy Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm.

Moats Kennedy’s firm helps 2,000 to 3,000 people each month in the Chicago area looking to re-start their careers.

She has been career consulting since 1975, and offered advice to women on topics ranging from how to re-enter the workforce to how to price themselves for new employers.

Moats Kennedy believes that the biggest disadvantage to people re-entering the workforce is a lack of focus. “Everybody has to be able to answer one question: what do you want to do next? You can help anybody get focused by a process of elimination. Tell me the things you know you don’t want to ever do again. People get hung up on the idea that because I’m good at it, that’s what I should do. ‘But I hate it!’ Well, this is your chance to wipe the slate clean and start over,” she says.

For women in particular, Moats Kennedy understands that this career renovation often comes after years of home making. The biggest hurdle that these women have is time allotment.

“How much time do you have to devote to this? ‘Oh you know, I have tennis on Wednesday, and I play bridge Thursday afternoon … ’ No. This is going to take every minute you can put into it until you find your focus and either find a business that will hire you, or start your own. This has to be an obsession. If it’s just something to get you out of the house, that’s different than re-careering,” she says.

And her last piece of advice for women re-entering the work force: “If the [women] are going into a known job in a company, they have to be paid in the same range as everybody else. And if the company says, ‘Yes, you can do the job, but we want to pay you 20% less,’ then you move on. That’s not the job for you.”