Upper Marlboro career coach lives out the advice she shares with clients

Whether you realize it or not: “You are interviewing everyday.”

Jennifer Jones Bryant, executive founder of Reaching Within, An Empowerment Journey. (Courtesy Jennifer Jones Bryant)

That’s not just some advice Jennifer Jones Bryant tells people who seek her help during job searches. The founder of her own career coaching business based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, has lived it.

While riding the subway one day, Bryant was chatting with someone on the train as she was heading to a job fair. By the time she got to her stop, the person she had been talking with revealed that they worked for the federal government — and offered Bryant a job on the spot.

Now, she’s the executive founder of business Reaching From Within, an Empowerment Journey, and has worked with small business development centers during the COVID-19 pandemic to help people get back to work.

As the nation celebrates the worker this Labor Day, many people are heading into a work force that’s very different from the one they left. To Bryant, that means it’s even more important to know how to “show up” with a number of job interviews conducted virtually.

“Make sure you are in a well-lit room that’s free of distractions,” Bryant said, advising people to put their phone on airplane mode and put their pets in another area.

One other thing: just because it’s virtual, doesn’t mean you can show up looking unprofessional.

“For guys, that means a buttoned up shirt. For women, that means a nice blouse (and) simple jewelry,” Bryant said.

The career coach also counsels people to tailor their resumes to the jobs for which they’re applying.

“You want to make sure you’re showing up results-focused, and not showing up with your whole laundry list of duties,” Bryant said.

Did you do volunteer work for your church or local food pantry during the time you were
laid off? Bryant suggests writing that up and counting it as experience.

Bryant understands how hard it can be to find a job because she said she was always having to prove herself.

There were times where she worked as a clerk typist during the day and as a cleaning service employee in that same office building at night. Bryant also attended school at night and eventually worked her way up to becoming an executive.

She said the higher ups who saw how much she was producing opened up doors for her. Bryant said it’s important to have mentors and sponsors who will speak on your behalf when you are not in the room.

Born in D.C. and raised in Maryland, life became a challenge when Bryant lost her father at the age of five in a tragic construction accident. She and her brother were raised by a single mother with a fifth grade education.

But, through the triumphs and tragedies, the married mother of two said, “It’s important to have that work-life balance where you are working to live that blessed life God has given you.”

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. You can read more of that coverage by clicking here.

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Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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