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Michelle Perchuk - Career / Leadership / Business Coach, Author, and Speaker

It doesn't matter what level or role an individual has in their professional life. We all need the same kind of handholding and career coaching to get ahead successfully. You don't have to take the hard route. Here to share how she found her purpose in career coaching and helping others succeed is Michelle Perchuk. She is an ICF-certified leadership, career, and business coach and is the owner of MTV Coaching. She is also a speaker and the author of Swimming in the Talent Pool: The Evolution of Recruiting. Join her in this episode with host J.R. Lowry as she narrates her career journey. Michelle also discusses the different strategies she teaches to help others achieve their vision, covering topics such as job interviews, resume writing, networking, and, of course, coaching. Tune in!


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Michelle Perchuk - Career / Leadership / Business Coach, Author, and Speaker

On Finding Her Purpose Through Both Intention And Serendipity

My guest is Michelle Perchuk, who I met last year through LinkedIn. Michelle is an ICF-certified leadership, career and business coach, as well as an author and speaker. She is the owner of MTV Coaching. She is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has a handful of other side gigs underway as well, including being an influencer on Instagram. Michelle began her career in the staffing industry with early roles at Ajilon and Manpower. She later branched out on her own, starting her own search firm, NPD Global, which she ran until 2017.

At that point, she transitioned to her focus on executive coaching. Michelle is the author of Swimming in the Talent Pool, which focuses on recruiting and the tech industry. She's developed an online course called The DaVinci Career Coach, which focuses on how the world's great artists can provide lessons for people looking for their next role.

Michelle earned her Bachelor's degree from New York University's Steinhardt School of Human Development. She's completed the Leadership for High Potentials Training at New York University's Stern School of Business and a Professional Certification from Rutgers University in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance. She is accredited by the International Coaching Federation, which is arguably the gold standard in coaching certification programs. She and her family live in the New York City area. She enjoys hiking, nature, and travel. Michelle, welcome. It’s good to have you on the show.

Thank you so much for having me.

Let's start at the beginning. Where did you grow up? What was your first paid job?

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. My first job was selling in a fashion boutique. I was a high schooler. I had to muster up enough courage to ask this glamorous woman who was the owner to give me a part-time job, and she did.

I'm sure once you got in there, you probably ran with it and did great.

I enjoyed working with women who were middle-aged at that time compared to my age, because I was fifteen. I enjoyed building the relationships, showing them the latest products, making them feel good about themselves, and offering them something that maybe they did not see themselves.

Did that shape what you thought about doing when you went off to school?

I was not at that place where I could connect my core values and evaluate my competencies. I knew I enjoyed working with people. I was always a people person, but once again, I didn't have the mindset to start asking myself those types of questions and reflect on my natural tendencies.

What about fashion? Was that the beginning of your interest in fashion?

I always was the different-looking executive in the room, always in bright colors, always having people coming up to me, asking, “Where did you get that?” That's another thing that I was born with.

The biggest advice to people who are in a job search: you need to work with good recruiters. Click To Tweet

You went to New York University, to the Steinhardt School of Human Development. How did you zero in on NYU? Why that particular program?

I zeroed in on NYU because it had a fantastic reputation and I was guided by a talented guidance counselor at my high school. I was in a high school for high potential talented kids. She felt that NYU was a great match for me. There was also a financial aspect to my education, as they granted me a full scholarship. I chose that school as an inner-city kid. The communication program sounded phenomenal because I knew that communication was the basis of all human interaction. I knew it was a great starting point. No matter what profession I would choose after at that point, I knew that interpersonal communication was the baseline for anything that I would do after graduating college.

Did you have a sense of what you wanted to do at that point?

I did. I was always fascinated with, once again, product, packaging, and promotion. It was a natural progression being in the School of Human Development, and in the communication program. There were many classes where I was exposed to PR and advertising and creative writing. I thought that that was the path that I wanted to take.

You did a couple of stints working for staffing firms Ajilon and Manpower. How did that play out for you?

There was a small stepping stone in between my degree and getting into tech staffing. My first job out of college was organizing conferences for CEOs with major sponsors like Lotus and Microsoft. Lotus is an ancient word nobody remembers anymore. I was responsible for organizing those events and selling them to C-Suite executives. That's where, by chance, I met two executives from Time magazine, who said to me, “Why do you want to sell tickets to a conference? Why don't you get into consulting?”

The first thing that I said was like, “No, I don't want to be a consultant. I need benefits.” That's a funny story I always tell. They opened up my eyes, those two young men. They opened up my eyes to the world of technology staffing, staff augmentation, and talent acquisition. From that point, I went to Ajilon, it was my first job, and then COMSYS, which was acquired by Manpower.

When you got in there, what did you find that you liked and didn't like about being in that space?

I loved the matchmaking aspect of it. I loved meeting with the [client] and meeting with my team, presenting the best possible candidates, and then coaching the candidate and the hiring manager so they would meet in the middle and there would be a transaction. I enjoyed it. At one point, it was like a challenge. I would put bets against my own performance and question if the candidate was going to get an offer or not. I've enjoyed the human interaction.

What I didn't like was that I didn't understand the technology, the nuts and bolts. I always felt that I lacked that, but if I did understand it to such a degree, then I would probably have been a developer or an architect. I always struggled with that, that I, at times, did not understand what my clients did on a day-to-day basis.

Which always makes it a little bit tougher. Between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I temped for Manpower all summer. I worked for a hospital, a car dealer, and a company that made extruded plastic equipment, all sorts of random things. I was doing data entry, nothing all that glamorous, but at least it was work.

They [Manpower] were huge back then. I may have temped for them and one other firm. I can't remember the other firm’s name at this point. There were two options where I grew up in Ohio. I went to both of them and put my name in and got hired pretty quickly.

What led you then to go out and start your own search firm?

CSCL 29 Michelle | Career CoachingIt was a combination of events. We had the mortgage correction, the downfall of the financial sector in New York, in the latter part of 2008 and into 2009. Many executives immediately lost their livelihood. Many executives took this time to reflect and ponder if they were where they wanted to be. I was staffing for the financial sector, being based in New York City. I was one of those executives that had to ask myself, “What do I want to do from this point on?” I realized that I provided a great service and I had great relationships with my clients.

I liked the process of giving people a happier livelihood and allowing them to find career happiness. I wanted to continue doing that, but I wanted to continue doing it in a lighter way, not in a huge corporate way. I decided to open up a boutique firm, and many of my clients became creative and figured out how they could follow me and give me the business. I do pride myself that the New York Stock Exchange was one of my best clients. I was on their vendor list after being in business for one year. I wound up having an amazing relationship with them. I'm grateful for that.

When you get 1 or 2 of those anchor clients early in your small business life, it can make a huge difference. It's great that you had that. The search world is also one of those things. It’s people-driven. I don't need you to tell you that. People will follow the recruiters whom they like working with as people because they like their network and their style. You obviously benefited from that as you made that transition.

I also had a great reputation for being that executive that did the due diligence. They knew that if I presented them with two candidates, they would hire one of them because I performed the due diligence. I'd coach those candidates. I'd check their references. I made sure that they were not only a fit for the technical skills but also a cultural fit, which often is a huge deal, whether the executive will stick or will wind up leaving after the first year.

Culture fit matters. It's a two-way street. You know that as well as anybody. How was your entrepreneurial journey itself?

I loved it. I worked harder, but I was happy doing it.

It’s for you.

Not only that. My years in corporate, there were moments that I experienced a lot of toxicity, especially during the time of mergers. I went through eight mergers in my corporate career. People don't always show up in a positive light when their job is in danger or new management is coming in. I enjoyed being my own boss and running my own company because I treated my employees respectfully. I knew that they wanted to work for me because they wanted to, not because they had to.

How many employees did you have?

My maximum was 37. It was a combination of my staff, the shared services, and then the consultants who wanted to be employed by us. These were the technical experts that wanted to be employed by the company and go from project to project.

I'll ask you a question I asked one of my other guests who's also in search. It's a world that's confusing to people from the outside often. What advice would you give people in terms of how best to get on the radar of search firms, how best to interact with them?

Do your due diligence. Speak to your colleagues and supervisors. Get recommended to a search firm that has a great reputation. I have never seen such growth as the growth that happened in the search and in the staffing space while I've been in the business. It's close to 75,000 firms right now in the US, if not more.

Every industry is always evolving. Click To Tweet

Many of them are not ethical. Many of them will do tricky things. You wouldn't know that as a candidate, especially if they reach out to you either from the job boards or on LinkedIn. That's the biggest advice that I could give to people who are in a job search. You need to work with the good recruiters. You need to understand their function as well, that they're out there to make a fee on you, not as much where your career is going. They're there to make a fee. Job seekers need to understand that and be transparent about it.

Presumably, if they're overly pushing a candidate that isn't the right fit for the company, sooner or later, that's going to catch up with them.

True, but there's a lot of automation in recruiting right now where resumés get sent in having not always spoken to the candidates and then they find out that they were represented by a company that they never spoke to. In the age of Applicant Tracking Systems, ATS, which most Fortune 5000 companies have, it's important who owns the candidate. It's no longer whose name is in the Rolodex. That's why I urge people who are in a job search to ask around, talk to your friends, talk to people you knew from grad school, and see who they recommend.

Seventy-five thousand firms, presumably a large percentage of them are sole proprietorships or small firms, smaller than your firm was at its peak. You've got to find the people who do searches in your function or your industry. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. How did you find being the leader of those 37 people? What was your leadership style? How did you approach your own culture when you had the ability to create it yourself?

I always have believed in an open-door policy. Now, that it's been a couple of years since I sold that company, I've realized that maybe it was open a little bit too much. I sat with my team. I made them feel like I was one of them. When it came to making tough decisions, that worked against me, because they looked at me as a friend and as someone that they could share things with. When I had to make choices that were for the business, they sometimes took it personally. I often regret that I was not mature enough to bring in a coach that would work with certain individuals in my organization, that would work with me so that we could get rid of those elements and all act towards the benefit of the company. Few people think of the company when it comes to some kind of a decision in the workforce.

Even as the owner, I thought of me a lot more often than the company. The mindset has to be different. If all employees and the leader are in one company, they have to think as though the company is an entity of its own, and ask, "Is it for the good of the company?" Taking the personal out of it. I can speak that way now because I'm a coach and have so many tools in my belt, but that was a mistake I made in my leadership style.

It's especially hard in a small company. Everybody in those situations, to some extent, values the intimacy of those situations. They work well or they don't work well, depending on the people, because there aren't a lot of them. It makes it a much different experience than being in a bigger company where everybody understands that there's a corporate line. I can appreciate that that was a difficult line for you to find, particularly in a relatively small business that you were running yourself. How did you decide to sell the business ultimately?

It was a combination of things. I was constantly approached by friendly competitors. I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to scale as much as I wanted to because I needed additional investment. I made a decision that something was going to change. I conducted a slew of interviews of C-Suite executives, which I did thanks to LinkedIn. I reached out to around 600 executives and did 30-something interviews, specifically with CIOs, on the question of where did they think the recruiting industry was going to go and how much would they value recruiting firms at headhunters over the next five years.

What did you hear?

Based on what they said, I made a decision to sell. The consensus was that headhunters and specialty firms would always be needed, but that the mass market was going the automation route. I knew that if I wanted to run as fast as my competitors, I needed to invest in an army of recruiters and a staff that would support the business that would come in from some of our mega customers. I knew I wouldn't be able to do it manually.

You mentioned applicant tracking systems earlier. There's been a bit of backlash over the last few years in terms of concerns about the bias that they might be introducing relative to bringing in a diverse candidate pool. I don't know whether that automation trend continues or whether it goes back to being a bit more personalized.

Every industry is always evolving. I knew the pros and cons of an applicant tracking system. I knew it well. I know many companies still use that formula. That's why in my coaching practice, it's extremely valuable to my clients that I was that ex-recruiter. I could tell them how companies select and how it works, which the everyday person doesn't know. To get back to those interviews that I conducted, the knowledge was important and the content was rich from those interviews. I interviewed one of the divisional CIOs of AIG. I interviewed the CIO of the New York Times and the CIO of the City of Palo Alto. That information, I had a duty as a human being to share with the world. That was the beginning of how I published my book, Swimming in the Talent Pool.

CSCL 29 Michelle | Career Coaching

Michelle Perchuk: Very few people think of the company vs. themselves when it comes to some kind of a decision in the workforce.


How was the writing process for you when you got to that point?

I had all the meat already. I just needed to dress it up a little bit. I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed a writing schedule and having an editorial coach who helped me make the chapters a certain length and then to format it. I self-published the book. It was a little cumbersome to deal with Amazon, but I loved the process. It elevated me to a subject matter expert in my field.

Once the book was out, what did you do to continue to market it and find other ways to monetize the value you are getting from it?

The purpose of publishing the book was not so much about monetizing it. It was to establish me as a subject matter expert. It was a door opener. It completed that task by 10x. Even now, in my coaching practice, I gift the book often. It's selling because of my Instagram following. Whenever someone starts following me on Instagram, they quickly discover that I have a book and they buy it. There's a trickling of funds that way, but it's the knowledge that's in the book.

Not that I want to get political, but during the time that I completed the book, it was still the Obama administration. A chapter speaks about all the STEM programs that President Obama initiated. By the time the book started getting popular out there, we had a different administration. One of the first things that that administration did was they chucked all those programs. I'm happy that that book exists. It shows in real-time how important those STEM programs are because the graduates of those programs are our developers and our technology talent now.

You talked about helping women going back to when you were working in that boutique store as a teenager. STEM for women is especially a challenge in terms of getting young women into those programs.

I'm hoping that's going to change because of the conversation that we're having on diversity. Women are part of that conversation.

Me, too. Part of my job includes running an IT organization. You certainly don't find anything close to 50/50 in the candidate pool. I hope that starts to change over time because it would be better for everybody if that were the case.

You sold your business back in 2017. Did you know that you wanted to transition into coaching then, or did you go through some evaluation period?

I had an evaluation period that I got thrown into. It's a close-knit community, especially in the staffing world in New York and New Jersey. Quickly, people knew I was available. I got an interesting proposition from another boutique firm to come in and fix their problems, meaning retrain their sales staff, look at their processes for recruiting and help them get some business. I realized that I did a lot of coaching during that time, a nine-month project. By month six, I knew what I was doing. I was coaching.

Once again, I went and I spoke to some of my friends in business and shared my experience with them. One of my friends/clients said to me, “There is a lot of dialogue going on right now, especially in the corporate world, about executive coaching and leadership coaching. To me, you would be a natural.” It wasn't my first business that I was putting together. I knew that I needed to get certified. I was going to do it right. I went back to school. I got certified in an amazing program at Rutgers University. I then passed all of my exams for ICF, which is the International Coaching Federation. I was ready. I'm proud of that journey. I'm extremely happy with what I do.

Talk about your coaching practice now. I know you do a mix of career coaching, leadership coaching and business coaching. What does your practice mix look like? What level of people that you tend to work with? What types of situations? I'll let you describe it in your own words.

Those three things are distinct, but they meet at a pinnacle. That pinnacle is career vision. That is where I start with any executive that I work with. I tend to be a lot more successful with seasoned professionals, mid-management, MD and VP level, depending on the industry. The industry doesn't matter to me. I gravitate towards tech and finance because that is my background, but through my coaching endeavors, I've been able to learn so much about health care, advertising and social media, you name it.

It doesn't matter what level or role the individual has in their professional life. They all need the same kind of handholding. Click To Tweet

My knowledge base is growing. I start with understanding what an individual's career vision is. What do they envision for themselves? We start building their vision, whether it's through the career angle, the leadership angle, or the business angle. Whether they want a new job, what do they need to do in order to get a new position of interest that's more challenging, or they're doing a career pivot, or it's a second career.

If it's in the leadership pillar, then it's all about promotion and being recognized in your existing organization. How do you start planning your career progression at your company and in your lane, in your profession? When it comes to business coaching, it's usually someone doing a career pivot and getting out of one industry and starting a business. I have had tremendous success with executives that take packages, especially during the pandemic, and would go into a franchise business.

There is a lot of coaching in that sector because C-Suite executives lead, but they always get things done for them. You have an assistant, a project manager, and a variety of people that are supporting you. When you go into a business, you're it until you can afford to bring in help. There's a lot of coaching that happens before someone decides to sign the contract to become a franchise owner.

Being a business owner, franchisee, or otherwise, it's different than being in a big company where you've got staff doing all these different things. That's a bit of a rude awakening for a lot of people when they venture out on their own.

I know you've coached literally thousands of people. Are there a few common themes that are the ones that are most prevalent that you hear about? Have those changed over the last few years that you've been doing this?

Things changed over the pandemic months because people started realizing that they were not fulfilled with what they were doing. They may be great at their job. They may be making a phenomenal living, but they're not fulfilled. Something is missing. When I start asking them these questions, they have a rude awakening and they get stuck. They don't know what to do.

It doesn't matter what role the individual has in their professional life. They all need the same kind of handholding so that they can give themselves permission to experiment and ask the questions. I am amazed, I see incredible resumés. One of the first things that I do when I meet a new client is I ask to see their resumé.

I'm amazed that people want a certain role, but nothing in their resumé speaks to that role, nor does the resumé have an objective. How would a potential employer consider them for this role when it's not even clear from the resumé what they want? It's astounding. I had a conversation with a chief risk officer for a mid-sized bank. When I told him this, he needed to leave the meeting. He was like, “I need to think about this.”

It's interesting, now, people don't write cover letters like they used to when they would mail a resumé into a company. The cover letter can do the stitching together. How do I connect the opportunity that you're hiring for with my background? It doesn't rely so much on a bulleted form that typically comes in a resumé. I don't know what your view is, I would be curious to get your view, I feel like people who don't do cover letters or cover emails or whatever they are, are missing an opportunity to help the hiring company and manager connect those dots.

I agree to an extent on that. I feel that not sending a cover letter is a mistake because a resumé is two, two and a half pages, and it doesn't speak to the job description. You do need that middleware that connects the resumé to the job description.

You're using a tech term there. You did pick up some of it over the years.

Thank you for recognizing that. I feel that a lot of people get caught up in the writing. “I'm going to write an amazing cover letter. They're going to hire me based on my cover letter.” They rely on the resumé and the cover letter almost as a crutch to do the work for them. One of the first things that I talk to my clients about is reversing that. Instead of sending the resumé and the cover letter and praying that it's going to do the job, have the conversation first and then send the cover letter and the resumé, because at that point, it comes alive.

The first thing I tell everybody is don't just apply online. Work your network. It's amazing. The numbers have shown for forever that networks get you jobs, and yet a lot of people still try the old school approach. They feel like they're not following the rules if they call the hiring manager directly. To me, that's a fallacy.

CSCL 29 Michelle | Career Coaching

Michelle Perchuk: A coach should start with understanding what an individual's career vision is. What do they envision for themselves? And then start building their vision, whether it's through the career angle, the leadership angle or the business angle.


We live in a society where we want instant gratification. For certain jobs, it works. You apply and you get a callback. The professionals I work with, sending a resumé blindly does not work. Why would you want to spend energy on something where the yield is so low? Many people don't have the courage and the confidence. Most of all, they don't have the tools to create a story about their professional life. They don't communicate it clearly. This is one of the major things that I do. I help people create a vocabulary, almost about themselves, in a one-minute commercial. I call it the three chapters of your life - your beginning, where you are now, and where you're going - which communicates clearly to whoever you're talking to what it is that you want.

Having that elevator pitch represent your personal brand or whatever you want to call it. That's ultimately what you're helping your clients do as you describe it.

You're showing right off the bat that you bring value. Also, many people don't know how to network effectively. They will request a virtual coffee and then they'll spend 30 minutes talking about themselves. That's not something that I endorse. I always recommend when you schedule a virtual coffee, you do the introductions or you catch up for over five minutes, but then turn the attention to who you're talking to. Even though you're the one that needs the job, still show them the attention, see what's happening with them. When you feel that there is a place where you could interject your expertise, then go for it.

Asking questions. The candidate asking questions can be a huge differentiator in separating them from the pack because it shows that they prepped and came prepared and they're thoughtful about what they're looking for in a role. They're thoughtful about what they want to know about your company.

Thank you for bringing that up. Asking questions is brilliant because it comes down to asking a couple of simple questions, 3 to 7 words long. “How can I help you? What does success look like for someone in this role?” Those two questions. I've had my clients ask those questions. Upper management would say, “Thank you so much for saying that because no one has asked us what we need. We're the ones who are hiring.” Talk about a game-changer in those questions.

Those two questions, they're generic. They're not even questions that you have to think about tailoring to a particular company, which is powerful. In general, having 2 or 3 questions that you're ready to ask at the end of an interview, typically when there are five minutes left and they turn it to you and say, “Do you have any questions for me?” That’s your closer. It's an opportunity for you to stand out. Having a few in your pocket. It doesn't have to be 5 or 7 or 10. It just has to be a few.

The right ones.

You have a course that you developed, The DaVinci Career Coach. It's all about what people can learn from the world's great artists in terms of their job search. Help bring that to life. You don't have to obviously teach the whole course here, but give us a sense. Pick an artist and talk about what we can learn from that artist in terms of our career searches.

I'm a huge art history buff, especially the Impressionists. Even though he's not an Impressionist, but he's my favorite artist, that's Pablo Picasso. What many people don't know about him is that he was business oriented. He has a famous quote that he said, and I'll summarize it, that you will not get anywhere. You will not meet success in your life if you do not have a plan. If you have a plan, you can achieve anything. He was also an artist that knew his purpose to the very end. I found inspiration in that. That was the foundation for the entire course because I feel that artists are the most resilient people on Earth. They will starve, barter for their supplies, and do anything so that they can create the space to do what they love. We need to learn from that community. It takes a lot of courage to be an artist.

Scrappiness. It goes back to what you were talking about earlier with the people who move into franchisee roles. It's true as well for people who are passionate about how they want to spend their time, have a clear sense of it, or are artistic in their bent. They're going to do what it takes to continue to produce art one way or another.

People are fascinated with artists. They're admirable, sexy figures in history. I thought that if I put this course together, which was my passion project during the pandemic, that people would look at it as infotainment. They would be entertained and they would learn something at the same time.

You rolled it out in 2021. How has it gone so far?

It really comes down to asking just a couple of simple questions in an interview: “How can I help you?” and “What does success look like for someone in this role?” Click To Tweet

eople can’t believe the creativity that I used to merge art history and recruiting and job search. I was invited to have the course, appear on Knowable, which is a huge learning platform, now owned by Medium. The course is selling there. Many people are exposed to my coaching and my methodology that way. I'm an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I'm talking to the university about including the course in the curriculum so that sophomores can be exposed to content that could be thought-provoking. I teach a class called Professional Life. It's boring for a nineteen-year-old to sit there and learn how to put a resumé together, but if they see how Andy Warhol did it, then they're going to look at it completely differently.

You can find some good examples of business people in the artistic world, not just artists who paint or sculpt. George Clooney started a tequila company. Ryan Reynolds is doing gin. You've got all sorts of different things. Jessica Alba's a billionaire based on what she's done outside of her acting career. There are probably more now than ever. Athletes, too, have learned how to become much better business people. Back to your point about trying to make it interesting for a nineteen-year-old, whether it's sports or movies or the art world, you've got lots of examples of people who have shown a business savvy outside of their artistic or professional athlete endeavors.

I truly feel that if a part of our education, especially during high school or early college, asked us, “What makes you happy?” and we were able to start developing an answer to that instead of, “I need a good job after I graduate school,” I feel we would have many more fulfilled and satisfied professionals. It would lead to a better quality of work that they would give to their employers. It would improve their work ethic. It would improve employee retention and a whole lot of other stuff, probably even lawsuits, to be honest with you. People would be happy doing the work that they're doing versus doing it because they need to collect a paycheck.

I'm going to use Myers-Briggs as an example. My kids learned Myers-Briggs in high school. They learned the language of Myers-Briggs. It allowed them to better understand themselves and better understand other people. I learned Myers-Briggs when I was 28 or 29 years old. That's a lot longer after being in high school. The kids who are going through school now are picking up a lot more around psychology and mental health.

Maybe going one step further as you suggest about what makes you happy and getting them to start answering that question so they can think about what they want to do with that lens, as opposed to, “I'm going to do what my parents want me to do. I'm going to do what my buddies are doing,” or whatever the case may be. You have a lot of other side things going on as well. Talk about some of the things that you do outside of your coaching business and the course that you created.

I am an adjunct professor. I find that rewarding because I get to influence young people who are in the beginnings of their professional lives. I enjoy that. I enjoy travel, hiking, and art. I'm hoping that I can incorporate my love for art more and more into my work.

Where are your favorite places to travel?

South of France.

Do you have a place that you go back to regularly or do you hit different points along South of France?

There are some places that I go back to over and over again because I have friends in the area, but I enjoy Provence, the lighting there, and the landscape, and nature. There's serenity. I feel like there is a special chemistry between me and that place.

It's good that you have a place that you feel that emotional bond with. It's a good way when you go to that place to be able to recharge. How about hiking? Where are your favorite places to hike?

I live in North Jersey, so we have a slew of hiking trails along like right under the George Washington Bridge and along The Palisades, Bear Mountain, even hiking up in Cold Springs and that whole area of the Hudson Valley.

CSCL 29 Michelle | Career Coaching

Career Coaching: Instead of sending the resume and the cover letter and praying that it's going to do the job, have the conversation first and then send the cover letter and the resume. Because at that point, it comes alive.


I've done a lot of hiking in a lot of different places, but my home base is the White Mountains up in New Hampshire. It's closest to Boston, which is where we have our permanent home. I've been up there many times. I love getting out. What other things do you do? You mentioned Instagram earlier. You’ve got 50,000 followers, which is a pretty darn big Instagram following. What kinds of things do you post about on Instagram? How do you think about that in the context of the portfolio of things you're doing?

Early on when I started Instagram, the following started from people reading the book in different places of the world. That was the beginning. I felt that I had to give content to my followers, teaching them the five tips for the best resumé or the five tips or how to be a rock star at your interview, but I felt that it was a little forced. They didn't feel who I was and my style and how I am different from some of the other coaches. That's why I made a decision to bring in my followers into my world, what I enjoy doing in my spare time. Not so much with family and friends, but my own personal journey. It's important. The audience on Instagram is younger.

I feel that if they can learn from what I've been able to achieve and how I did it, it will serve them well. For every post that I put up, I try to bring them into my world, the world of fulfillment, professional happiness. I'm always raving on how much I love being a New Yorker, how I've been able to form this work-life balance, building my business during the pandemic, and all the things that I have access to in New York. My followers are international. They all have access to cultural things in their areas. I volunteer. I got involved with an organization that finds basic items for people who are displaced in Ukraine because of the political situation there and the war.

I'm of Ukrainian heritage. That was important to me. I'm constantly building awareness for this small nonprofit from my art circles. For example, I attended a private opening at the Brooklyn Museum. The group had a few people that I started talking to. I met somebody that's a sock manufacturer that is willing to donate socks to this charity. It's all about the connections, networking, and showing up authentically doing the things that you love, and then things come together.

You mentioned coming together. Do you feel like at this point in your life that all of this is coming together for you and you know who you are, what fulfills you, and what you want to be doing professionally?

I know I'm in the right place. I know I was destined to do this. I know that everything I did up until this point, it was to prepare me for this point, but at the same time, I don't want to be arrogant. I know that I still have so much more to learn.

What are the things that you're focused on learning right now? What's on your learning agenda?

I need to learn how to market my assets better. I feel that my course that I have now and future courses that I'm thinking about developing under this brand of DaVinci Career Coach, I need to figure out a way to bring it to more people and not just market it on LinkedIn or through the events that I'm hosting. I need to figure that out. It's at a point of frustration for me that I haven't looked to figure it out yet, but I also know that everything is time. My clients need me while they're in their career transition. They need my hours and they need to schedule a session. How can I say no to them? I need to market my course. I'm constantly in those two spaces, constantly challenged.

One of the things I've thought about with my side business, this PathWise venture, is how to help coaches expand their reach to find a different form of scalability than you can find when you're running a sole proprietorship coaching practice. Every dollar you bring in depends on you and your time. What you did developing your course is certainly one way.

You wrote a book, that's another way. In the scheme of things, you've taken a few pretty substantial steps to help you. My hope is that, at some point, I'm more focused on the individuals right now than on creating a platform for coaches. That was always in the longer-term idea. You've got a running start at it already with the things you've been doing.

Thank you. I also do a bit of mentor coaching, especially through ICF. They encourage that. I'm always willing to share with the coaching community the lessons I've learned and the mistakes I made to help other coaches not make those mistakes because those mistakes can be expensive.

Getting into coaching and doing a certification program, it's not an enormous expense, but it's somewhere between a few thousand dollars and $10,000, depending on what you decide to do. You did ICF. What do you need, 200 hours of coaching, to get the first certification?

A resume is just a piece of paper if you don't have a strategy. Click To Tweet

Five hundred paid hours.

That's a lot of coaching to get your certification. It's a big investment of your own time, if not necessarily money. If you don't go about that in the right way, you can easily flail. I'm sure that's what happens with a lot of people, which is obviously unfortunate.

We need more coaches. I feel that if we have more coaches, we're going to solve some problems as a society.

I wonder whether the world of coaching right now is, by and large, for the most senior people. Not exclusively, but for the most part, it's the companies who are paying. They're only going to pay for their top performers and most senior people, but everybody can use some coaching from the time you finish school. It could be basic stuff. Back to your point about teaching people how to write a resumé.

At some point in your life, you have to learn how to do those things. It's funny, people will go to the gym, they'll get a trainer, they'll bring help in so many other aspects of their life and yet they spend more waking hours at work than doing just about anything else, yet they are not necessarily all that intentional about how they go about managing their career. It doesn't mean you have to be overly careerist, but getting advice along the way and not having to learn everything the hard way.

I love that word intentional. I have a famous quote that I use that I started using. I often ask my clients, “Do you want the job search happening to you or do you want to happen to the job search?”

It's a simple way of explaining it, but that's a great question. Any other final thoughts you want to share in terms of career guidance or other thoughts for our audience?

I'd like to share another quote. I love quotes. I'm a big quote person. “A resumé is just a piece of paper if you don't have a strategy.”

Michelle, thanks for doing this. I'm glad you reached out and offered to be a show Guinea pig. I appreciate your time.

Thank you so much. It’s nice to see you.


I'd like to thank Michelle for joining me and sharing her broad career journey and learnings along the way. If you're ready to take control of your career, visit If you'd like more regular career insights, become a PathWise member. It's free. You can also sign up on the website for the PathWise newsletter. Follow PathWise on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thanks. Have a great day.


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About Michelle Perchuk

CSCL 29 Michelle | Career CoachingMichelle Perchuk is an ICF-certified leadership, career, and business coach, as well as an author and speaker. She is the owner of MTV Coaching. She is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and an Adjunct Professor at Farleigh Dickinson University. She has a handful of other side gigs underway as well, including being an influencer on Instagram.

Michelle began her career in the staffing industry, with early roles at Ajilon and Manpower. She later branched out on her own, starting her own search firm, NPD Global, which she ran until 2017. At that point, she transitioned to her current focus on executive coaching.

Michelle is the author of Swimming in the Talent Pool, which focuses on recruiting in the tech industry, and has developed an online course called The DaVinci Career Coach, which focuses on how the world’s great artists can provide lessons for people looking for their next role.

Michelle earned her Bachelors’ Degree from New York University’s Steinhard School of Human Development. She has completed the Leadership for High Potentials Training at Stern and a Professional Certification from Rutgers University in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance. She is accredited by the International Coaching Federation, which is arguably the Gold Standard in coaching certification programs. She and her family live in the New York City area. She enjoys hiking, nature, and travel.


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