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ClearRock Senior VP Featured in Fast Company Article on 5 Phrases That Make People Discount What You’re Saying

If you’re looking to advance in your career, thinking about the way you communicate is a good place to start. After all, it’s a skill that’s always in demand and goes a long way toward shaping others’ perceptions of you.

But a handful of irritating—and common—words and phrases can undermine your hard work. “Words are powerful things, and some words and phrases can really have a negative kind of energy,” says communication coach Alan Samuel Cohen, author of The Connection Challenge: How Executives Create Power and Possibility in the Age of Distractions.  At best, such phrases are distracting. In the worst-case scenario, they can actually trigger a strong negative reaction in your counterpart, either to the conversation or to you.

While it’s impossible to police every word you say—and people are going to hear what they’re going to hear, Cohen says—there are better options to consider.


When you use self-deprecating language before you put forth your ideas, you’re immediately diluting others’ confidence in you and giving them permission to dismiss you, says Ellie Eckhoff, senior vice president at ClearRock, a leadership-development and executive-coaching firm.

“Some people might start with, ‘This might not be a good idea, maybe we’ve already done this, this might not work,’” she says. “So, starting the conversation with minimizing what they’re going to offer.”

Say it better: Simply state your idea without qualifying it. You’ll be more valued for your contributions.

Read the complete article here:

ClearRock’s Mike Fitzgerald Tells Brit+Co about good mentor/ mentee relationships

Professional mentors can exist in many forms: They can be people you bounce ideas off of, swap interview or salary negotiation tips with, or who advocate for another person within their organization or field. Hopefully, you’ve have had a mentor figure to shepherd you in your career. Or, maybe you didn’t, and you want to be that source for someone else. It’s your turn to share your wealth of knowledge with a mentee, either in your field or outside of it. Building your network to seek out a relationship that clicks — and endures — can be a challenge. Here, career experts suggest the savviest ways to pay it forward in your professional life.

Network outside of work too. “While professional events and forums may be helpful for some, they may seem a bit forced for others,” says Mike Fitzgerald, a career coach and advisor at ClearRock, Inc., a Boston-based career transition, outplacement, leadership development, and executive coaching firm. “This could happen virtually anywhere: at a professional association event, a place of worship, a health and fitness facility, or with sons and daughters of good friends or acquaintances.” Start by just offering tips to the person on a case-by-case basis, and slowly build the relationship that way. “Let them know that you are open to continuing the conversation, and then see if they respond to your guidance by following up with additional questions or concerns,” Fitzgerald says

Read the entire article on the Brit+Co web site:

ClearRock Senior VP Offers Tips for Career Changers

Ellie Eckhoff, Senior Vice President at ClearRock, is quoted by Glassdoor in an article titled, “9 Perfect Jobs for Career Changers”


Number of Open Jobs: 73,545

Median Base Salary: $88,395

Why It’s Great for Career Changers: “Are you an expert in the financial, construction or healthcare industries? These are growing sectors in the economy and there are opportunities for people to insert themselves into a business temporarily. Clearly, you need to be a subject matter expert. On top of that, you must be willing to share your advice and recommendations and find comfort in working with some uncertainty about the work and ambiguity about what’s next. This is a great option because workers get to ‘try out’ companies before they commit, and they can build their own business.” —Ellie Eckhoff

Go to the Glassdoor web site to read the complete article:

Chicago Tribune Quotes ClearRock Consultant

ClearRock’s Susan Peppercorn is quoted in Kathleen Furore’s Chicago Tribune’s article titled, 

“Older workers shouldn’t feel discourage about getting back into the sales game”

DEAR KATHLEEN: My 68-year-old brother wants to get back into sales and is having a very difficult time finding a job. Any advice? — D.F.

That’s a tough spot to be in, especially in today’s youth-oriented marketplace! But there’s no need to give up, according to the industry experts I contacted. Here are just a few tips they offered.

Shefali Raina, a New York City-based executive coach, says to be strategic. Instead of applying to every sales job you see, be more targeted in your search.

Do your homework on the job marketplace so you can identify industries who like hiring the 50-plus workforce — healthcare is one example. Also look for companies with diversity initiatives such as “returnship” programs. (Google “returnships” and you’ll find information about and links to “returnship” opportunities!)

Upgrade and repurpose your skills and experience. “Review your skill set versus current demand in the marketplace and invest in training where needed,” Raina says. Not tech or social media savvy? Polish those skills, she advises. “Also, ask yourself where you will add the most value. With extensive sales experience, you might have significant value to add as a sales coach or a sales force trainer.”

Susan Peppercorn, senior consultant at ClearRock, a Boston-based career transition, outplacement, leadership development, and executive coaching firm, suggests updating your image.

First impressions are crucial! Ask someone you trust for feedback about your hairstyle, clothes and other aspects of your appearance. “It’s important to look contemporary and age-appropriate,” Peppercorn says. “And, if you haven’t purchased a new pair of glasses since Bill Clinton was president, do it now. Nothing ages a person more than outdated eyeglasses!”

Rafe Gomez, co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing, who also has done work as “The Rehirement Coach,” advises preparing a spreadsheet. It should detail four key points: Where and when you’ve worked, how much revenue you generated in each position, and the sales rank you achieved in each job.

Read entire article on Chicago Tribune web site:–tms–careersntp–h-a20180815-20180815-story.html

ClearRock President Offers Tips in Huff Post Article

When Casey Bond was writing her article titled, “9 Seemingly Harmless Things You Should Never Have On Your Resume,” ClearRock President, Laura Possion was happy to offer the following tip about removing meaningless buzzwords:

How many ninjas and gurus do you know in your industry? Probably too many. These days, buzzwords like these have become so overused that they don’t mean anything.

“Many of these words don’t differentiate one candidate from another because they’re so generic,” said Laura Poisson, the president of ClearRock Inc. “We encourage our clients to describe their accomplishments rather than generic self-praise phrases.”

Poisson pointed out that many companies are moving toward behavioral-based interviews, which involve open-ended questions based on the premise that a person’s actions and accomplishments in previous positions are meaningful predictors of behavior and performance. “Set yourself up for success in your resume by describing your past performance,” she said.

Other phrases to delete from your resume: “team player,” “outside-the-box thinker,” “self-motivated,” “go-getter,” “hardworking” and “detail oriented.”

See full article:

Boston Business Journal Executive Profile: ClearRock’s Laura Poisson

ClearRock President, Laura Poisson, featured in Boston Business Journal

Laura Poisson could sing the praises of her company in more ways than one. She could take the conventional approach, politely rattling off her ClearRock Inc.’s accomplishments as a Boston-based leadership development, executive coaching and outplacement firm — including its list of high-profile clients or its nearly $3 million in revenue. Or, as a longtime lover of music and former member of the Up With People — and now leader of her own “pop and soulful” band, LP & the Vinyls — she could take the less-conventional approach, literally singing away.

“I’ve always loved singing,” says Poisson. “When I was young, I would be wearing my mother’s clothes, standing on a chair and use a hair brush as a microphone as I sang.”

Today, as the head of the 15-employee firm she hopes can eventually triple in size, she has a lot more keeping her busy than a desire to sing. ClearRock, which Poisson purchased two years ago after working at the firm since 2011, helps companies and nonprofit institutions to map out their hiring needs, conduct leadership assessment and training programs, and manage other personnel issues via its coaching consultants. ClearRock also helps companies with outplacement needs to part ways with employees who just aren’t working out.

Among ClearRock’s clients are Harvard University and Boston University, and the firm has clients in tech, biotech and health care companies in the Boston area.

“Their coaches have done real good work with some of my executives,” said Ed Boyajian, chief executive of EnterpriseDB Corp., a Bedford database-software company with 330 employees. “We use all of the services that ClearRock offers. They have a unique niche, helping companies with their staffing (strategies) and offering a great range of services.”

He said such “talent management” services are particularly important for tech companies like his that are growing fast and “need to grow well.”

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ClearRock offers SELF readers “Benefits to Negotiate When You Take a Job”

Susan Peppercorn of ClearRock is quoted by in an article titled  “17 Benefits (Other Than Salary) You Can Negotiate When You Take a Job”

“One perk to consider is asking for is a severance package written into your contract. This package would activate should the company be acquired or should you be laid off due to no fault of your own, and it can help you ensure that you’re prepared in case things go awry.” —Susan Peppercorn, a senior career transition consultant with the leadership development firm ClearRock

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ClearRock President Talks to Knox News about Informational Interviews

ClearRock’s president, Laura Poisson, shares how her informational interview led to her a job offer with the company. Check out this USA Today network interview with Laura.

Laura Poisson contacted Boston’s ClearRock Inc. ( for an informational interview in 2011. The company offers outplacement and assists job seekers in career transition. Two months later, she received an offer of vice president of client services and business development. In 2016 she became the owner and president, a position she retains.

Perhaps the least understood job-hunting vehicle, the informational interview benefits job seekers in a number of ways when used correctly. It can lead to referrals within a company or outside of it. It offers a good, low risk opportunity to practice self-promotion. Occasionally, it leads directly to a job, although such cases are rare.

What is an informational interview? Richard Bolles, author of the posthumously published “What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018″ (  (Ten Speed, $19.99), defines it as the process of “interviewing workers who are doing work a person . . . might be interested in doing . . . to discover if they are on the right track.” Poisson says that these interviews provide the opportunity for relationship-building while you do a little detective work.

You might be tempted to turn an informational interview into a job interview, but that’s a privilege best left to employers. Tad Mayer, Founder of Career Negotiations (career in Burlington, Massachusetts, where he’s a career coach, trainer and speaker, cautions that “the person you asked for the meeting may feel you pulling a ‘bait and switch’. … It will not exhibit integrity or build trust.”

Mayer continues that you risk appearing unfocused: “You came asking for information and are now fishing for an interview. It will be hard for him or her to be impressed (or to) refer you to an opportunity that s/he hears about in the future.”

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ClearRock VP Tell Monster What Execs Need to Negotiate

ClearRock’s Senior Vice President, Ellie Eckhoff, tells Kate Ashford of what executives should be negotiating when considering a job offer.

When considering a new position, your future paycheck is obviously a big part of the package. But as an executive, there can be multiple and sometimes complex aspects of your employment deal, from bonus structures to work flexibility to moving stipends.

To a point, much of what you negotiate will depend on your objectives and situation. For instance, executive coach Elene Cafasso recalls a client who was leaving a role where she was well-established.

“She had a bonus and stock options and a lot of things she was leaving on the table in order to move to a new position,” says Cafasso, who is president and founder of Enerpace, Inc. Executive Coaching in the Chicago area.

“Because it takes longer to find jobs at the highest level, many times VPs and up will negotiate that no matter what happens, the executive is guaranteed at least one year’s salary. That way, even if it doesn’t work out, they’re covered until they can find the next thing.”

Executives might also consider asking for relocation help, compensation for professional memberships, or more vacation flexibility. (Execs are sometimes limited to times they can go away, based on company deliverables.)

In general, experts suggest four places to think about wheeling and dealing beyond your base pay:

“An estimated 40% of new leaders fail within the first 18 months,” says Ellie Eckhoff, senior vice president at career transition firm ClearRock. “The stakes are really high for new leaders starting in a new position.”

Your new company is likely bringing you on to do something specific, and you’ll want to be sure you have the right ingredients to make that happen and succeed.

“I’ve worked with clients who joined a firm assuming there was a commitment…

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