Updated: Oct 28, 2020
This article is a part of our monthly Women Evolve(d): How She Did It Series
Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career change. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their career journeys! This month, we're proud to feature Elana Konstant who fully embodies the spirit of reinvention.
Elana Konstant is a career coach and consultant focusing on professional women in career transition. A former lawyer, she founded Konstant Change Coaching to empower women to create the career they want.
A graduate of Barnard College and UCLA School of Law, Elana’s professional advice has been featured on Slate, Huffington Post, Refinery29, Motherly, Fairygodboss, and other outlets. You can learn more by visiting her website, konstantchangecoaching.com and checking out her e-course for women returning to the workforce, leapingback.com.
What's your current occupation?
I'm a career coach and consultant. My coaching work involves helping the client create a plan of action around a goal, such as a promotion, job change, or career pivot, and then providing objective feedback to further that action until the goal is attained. As a consultant, I will help the client with a particular discrete task relating to resume/cover letter/LI profile editing, brainstorming strategies, interview preparation, salary negotiation, and other job search needs.
What's your personal mantra, mission or manifesto?
Embrace the change. I used to have it written on the back of my business card and it’s one of the first things I say to all of my clients. Change is inevitable and I truly believe that life is a series of readjustments, whether in terms of your career or personal life. Reminding myself of this is often empowering, especially when dealing with a difficult time. I believe in this notion so strongly that I named my business after it!
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business?
I started Konstant Change Coaching in 2012 after taking a short break from my career as a lawyer-turned-law school career advisor once I had my first child. I spent that first year or so of motherhood chatting with women in my network (then in San Francisco, now in Brooklyn) about the precarious balance of personal and professional demands. Many of the impressive and capable women I met were concerned about how to navigate a return to their former roles, move into new ones, or leave the workforce for a period. There was also a major identity shift involved in becoming a mother and the fear around potentially being forced to put a hard-won career on the backburner. Recognizing the need for support and accountability in these transitions, I launched my practice after becoming a certified coach.
While I initially worked primarily with new mothers, I have since expanded my client base to include people at all professional junctures, across a wide spectrum of careers. My clients are incredible leaders in their fields, from non-profit, to marketing, to tech, to law, to politics. I learn from and pass on their insights everyday.
What's unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities?
So much of what I confront with many of my clients is imposter syndrome. These are incredibly successful people, by any measure, but they often don’t project confidence in their own abilities for fear of being rejected, doubting their expertise, or otherwise minimizing their ambitions. Discussing these issues and bringing them into the open diminishes their power and hold. Just because you tell yourself something negative doesn’t mean it’s true! I also find many of my clients benefit from hearing that they are not alone and that many others confront similar feelings.
Being able to create a cohesive brand is so important at any stage of your career, but particularly so in midlife. By then you’ve amassed a great deal of experience and a powerful network and the key is leveraging those elements into telling your own unique story. Think about conveying your immediate value add to an employer, your boss, or the client. Craft your value proposition in terms of the role you’re seeking, rather than the one you have. Too many people focus on what they want to say without shifting their perspective to what others want to hear.
In addition, gaining clarity about what you want is a constant evolution throughout your career. Make sure to check in with your goals to monitor your progress toward them. It’s never too late to take control of the direction of your career. Preparing and practicing for important discussions, be it interviews, performance reviews, promotional pitches, compensation negotiations, or networking meetings can have a huge impact on the outcome. Be proactive and sell yourself!
Best career advice for other women?
Record your wins! I always tell clients to start keeping an accomplishment journal to capture your success, minor and major. Most of us get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life and forget to note our professional achievements. Creating a habit around capturing this information and celebrating it can be profound for moving forward in your career. In whatever format works for you, schedule a few minutes per week to jot down your weekly wins, positive feedback, and other triumphs. Get the details down!
This data can be used to advocate for leadership opportunities, update your resume and LinkedIn marketing materials, and boost your confidence when needed. We need to acknowledge ourselves, just as we would a colleague or loved one, and recording even small wins can lead to big changes.
Favorite book, app or podcast?
My morning routine consists of two short daily news podcasts, Up First by NPR and What A Day by Crooked Media. Once I feel informed (and often frustrated and terrified), I like to do a meditation session via Calm to recenter myself and set some intentions for the day. I’ve been recommending meditation to my clients for years but I only seriously committed to it during the pandemic quarantine. Those 10-15 minutes a day really feel like a gift to myself.
The advice I wish I'd given to my 20 year old self is…
Trust yourself. When I was younger, I definitely gave too much credence to others’ opinions or ideas and was too dismissive of my own power. Having worked and paid my way through college, I ended up going to law school because it seemed to be the safest choice in terms of job and economic security. I would tell that young woman to have faith in her strength and wisdom and to take big chances. And, perhaps, to write down all the stories from wild adventures because 20 years on she’ll struggle to remember them!
The advice that I want to give to my 75 year old self is...
Enjoy the ride! I was raised by a single mother and, sadly, she passed away just after turning 70. Growing old is a privilege I do not take lightly. I hope that when I am 75, I am still feeling young at heart and exploring all the beauty the world has to offer.