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Career Curb Appeal is a Thing -- Do You Have It?

Career Curb Appeal is a Thing -- Do You Have It?

I’ll be the first to admit it - I’m a sucker for HGTV. I love settling in for marathons of House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, and scores of other house-related shows. There’s something strangely appealing about watching people search for their dream home in Malibu or renovate their mid-century modern in Kansas City.

I won’t call it a guilty pleasure, though, because I’ve gathered some very valuable career lessons from HGTV. What I've learned  after hundreds of hours is that buyers abhor uncertainty and will either put off buying or require a big discount to overcome the associated risk.

[Related: Being Open In Your Job Search Could Close Employment Opportunities]

Hiring, like buying a house, can be fraught with risk. Organizations make a tremendous investment when they hire a new employee. Interviewing takes time. Once a candidate is hired, they need to be trained and introduced to the people they’ll work with. They may need to meet and form relationships with clients. And all this happens before the new employee ever starts creating value for the company. If the new hire doesn’t work out, a lot of time, money, and political capital will have been wasted.

I’ve heard this refrain hundreds of times: “All I need is for someone to take a chance on me - once they hire me, they’ll see I was worth the risk.” At times in my career, I’ve said these very same words myself. It was frustrating when I was ready to move up and it seemed like no one was willing to take a chance on me. However, I understood it much more clearly once I became a manager. Given what is at stake for the hiring manager, most aren’t keen on “taking chances” without ample evidence that it will pay off.

This is where the lessons from the HGTV gurus come in. When a home owner is trying to sell on a home on HGTV, the professionals will advise the seller to get their home ready for the market - clean it up, de-clutter, paint, cut the grass, get new carpet, or even pay a company to “stage” the home. This allows the home to be shown to potential buyers in the best possible light. It eliminates the need for potential buyers to overlook the stains on the carpet or the neglected garden. When a home looks like it’s “move-in ready," buyers are inclined to believe what they see and elect to buy.

[Related: Advice On Building Trust From Business Advisors Who've Been There]

Alternately, when home owners list their homes “as-is” and make no investment toward fixing up the home before listing it, the home is typically sold at a big discount. The uncertainty of potential problems is priced in. The beauty of many of the programs on HGTV is that experienced real estate and building professionals examine a fixer-upper and can tell if the issue is just cosmetic, or if it will be an expensive fix. Your average buyer doesn’t have the time or expertise to do that, and therefore shies away from buying “as-is” homes. They just want to close, move in, and get on with their life.

Like the average home buyers, most hiring managers don’t have time to examine each candidate’s potential in depth. When candidates hope that a hiring manager will “take a chance” on them, what they don’t realize is that the hiring manager is like the home buyer that just wants to buy a “move-in ready” house. Having to take the time to hire a new employee is a huge disruption from their day-to-day job. The last thing they want to do is take a chance on someone, not have them work out, and have to go through the ordeal all over again and have to repair any damage to their reputation that the poor hire may have caused.

So, what can you do if you’re someone who wants to pivot to something new, or you’re a new graduate who doesn’t have any professional experience? Invest in yourself to reduce the perceived risk of hiring you. Learn to tell your story in a concise and compelling way, spruce up your resume, get your LinkedIn profile to all-star status, get some additional training in areas where you have gaps, go to a stylist to make sure your image fits the role that you’re aiming for - in other words, get yourself some career curb-appeal.

If you’re not sure what blocks are standing in the way of your career goals, hire a professional. Like a realtor advising a home owner on how to get their home ready for market so it appeals to the largest number of buyers, a career coach can help you get yourself “ready for the market” so that you're also in demand. If you could use some help with your career curb-appeal, let me know.

[Related: Nine Ways to Slay Your Job Interviews]


Terry Boyle McDougall, MBA, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP, is an executive and career coach who helps frustrated corporate leaders achieve results for their organizations while being true to themselves so that financial success doesn't take a backseat to authenticity. Visit for more information or to request a free discovery call.

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