By Lisa Parker

I live in Michigan. Most know it was one of the hardest hit states in terms of the recession. As a result, there are empty buildings here waiting to be leased or purchased. Some of the buildings have started to fill up with new businesses. Ah, recovery. Guess which ones remain empty? We have several commercial sites that are being passed over by those seeking space because they are the shell of the failed businesses that occupied them previously. The business logos may be gone and paint colors may have changed, but you can still tell what used to be a Pizza Hut, Burger King, Boston Market, Long John Silvers or BP Gas Station. At the end of the day, even if these locations offer amenities new businesses may appreciate (ample parking, code compliance, relevant equipment), many potential tenants would prefer to move forward with something unique that doesn’t distract the customers they wish to attract with reminders of the space’s former life.

Why am I bringing this up on a blog designed to help job seekers? In a nutshell, I meet a lot of job seekers who wear their past experiences the same way those empty Pizza Hut buildings do. Sure, they have transferable skills, but the way they present themselves to prospective employers showcases more how they fit their former employer versus how they would compliment another company. They walk and talk like the (insert title) they once were and grumble over a prospective company’s inability to recognize and appreciate their transferable skills when they’ve pointed them out clearly. The trick isn’t just highlighting transferable skills, but stripping oneself of your former brand. A McDonald’s isn’t going to move into a building that looks like an old Burger King no matter how great location, rent and equipment may be. Job seekers who want to move in a different direction have to look the part in addition to selling why what they’ve done in the past is helpful.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.



  1. Roger Beach 15 July, 2013 at 06:48

    Yikes! The former Pizza Hut building in my town turned into a Bail Bond establishment….

  2. Emily White 25 March, 2013 at 10:21

    This is an incredibly strong analogy and should be published on a wider scale 🙂 Y’know, like the NY Times or something. Great perspective.

  3. Molly Ziske 25 March, 2013 at 09:02

    Great column! I think we all get to the point where we define ourselves by X position versus a multi-faceted and eager to learn person. Good reminder…

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