“People thought I was nuts—just absolutely crazy,” Tessa White says, laughing. It was 2018. As an executive working with Fortune 50 companies, White had reached a pinnacle in her career, the height of her earning potential. That’s when she decided to quit her job, reinvent her career, and start an unprecedented venture.
A Leap of Faith
“All of us have this list in our head. We say, ‘When I have time, I am going to do this or I am going to try that,’” she says.
For White, that included writing a book and empowering people to determine their career paths instead of letting a company or circumstances determine it for them.
“I thought, ‘If it’s not now, it’s never,’” she says. “I decided that making a difference in the world is more important to me than money, so I took that trade off.”
As an HR executive with decades of experience, White had a 360-degree view of the career stagnation and growth of hundreds of thousands of employees.
“I get to see the back-room conversations. I get to see how the employee feels. I get to see what the manager is thinking,” White explains.
Through that experience, White witnessed how a little preparation and knowledge can change the trajectory of careers.
“People just don’t understand what is really going on,” White says. “Nobody’s talking about it, and there’s a place for it. So I took the leap of faith.”
White decided to start those critical career conversations through corporate training, public speaking, business advising, and career coaching.
“I always thought it was going to be a choice between money and making a difference,” White says of her new career. “It’s not. They are not mutually exclusive. If my one voice can make this kind of a difference, it makes me want to help other people find their voice, their direction, their calling.”
The Power of One Voice
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought White’s speaking engagements and corporate trainings to a screeching halt, she began to reevaluate her business approach.
“Out of everything I do, I love working with individuals and helping them move their careers ahead the most,” White says. “The idea came to me to form The Job Doctor and to pivot from being a consultant with companies to being a consultant with individuals.”
While the nation was quarantining, White was busy building a website and remaking her company. In the fall of 2020, White launched The Job Doctor, and, at the urging of her daughter Hannah Matthews, she began building her social media presence.
“My daughter said, ‘You should get on TikTok,’ and I said, ‘I can’t even log in to TikTok,’” White recalls with a laugh. But within 72 hours of posting career advice on this new social platform, White had 10,000 followers.
“I always knew if there was an outlet for her to spread her knowledge and give advice, then it would go viral,” says Matthews. “The only thing that surprised me was how many avenues it opened up.”
Within one year, White had more than half a million social media followers and had been featured by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, Good Morning America, The Doctors, and countless other national outlets.
White found that no matter the platform, people were hungry for career advice, especially during such an uncertain time.
“People during the pandemic were really having a hard time with careers and the shifting of industries and how to get a job. So, it was the right idea at the right time that was born,” she says. “It went from being a business to being the way that I can do good in the world.”
White receives hundreds of messages every day from grateful followers telling her that they received a promotion, had the courage to change their career, or received a raise because of her advice.
“You don’t even realize the people you are impacting and changing,” White says.
The power of those interactions grows exponentially. White shared a letter from a single mother who was terrified to reenter the workforce after a four-year break. Not only was this woman able to enter a new career field she loved, she was able to negotiate a salary that was $15,000 above her last salary because of White’s coaching and advice.
“That initial $15,000 difference makes a $300,000 impact to that mother’s lifetime earnings,” White explains. “If that money is invested, that difference could jump as high as one million dollars. Add on top of that increased confidence and career satisfaction, and that one job transforms everything for that mother and her children.”
She adds, “You take one single mother who has gone from, ‘I don’t even know that I can get a job’ to ‘I have a job and I have already gotten a raise’ or ‘I have a career path that will keep food on the table for my family,’ and that will keep you motivated to keep doing what you are doing.”
Empathy Through Experience
White is passionate about helping others build a career strategy because she has experienced firsthand the difference it can make. Most of White’s followers would never guess that the story behind this put-together, outspoken executive included years of struggle and heartbreak. From death and divorce to helping family through addiction and mental illness, White knows what it feels like to be beaten down and broken.
“There are a lot of ways my life went sideways, so I understand pain and I understand broken dreams very, very well,” she says. “The fact that I came out the other side is what gives me confidence when I help other people who feel like they can’t rise above their circumstances.”
She continues, “I made so many life-altering decisions between the ages of 19 and 23 without knowing the impact it would have, so I have a very sweet spot for helping young people and helping single mothers get started on the right foot and make good decisions.”
That’s why White uses social media to reach that demographic in a way and with a message that resonates with them.
“They want to get their information fast and furious,” she says. “Social media provides this perfect platform to give them exactly what they need, which is the CliffsNotes on careers. If I could reach out and help every single young person start on the right foot, I would.”
Accomplishing the Impossible
Looking back at what it was like to be raised by a successful executive, Matthews says, “She saw our potential and was always striving to get us there.”
White balanced education with fun. Matthews remembers White taking them to Toys “R” Us when she would get a raise, playing Pokemon, and dressing up in a shark costume to scare her children and neighbors. She also remembers family nights filled with mock interviews and resume building.
White admits, “I may not have been the mother who made cookies, but I was the mother who taught my children how to invest in the stock market.”
Matthews has seen the ways her mother has taken her own struggles in the workplace and channeled those toward making a better world for her children and for future generations. When Matthews told her mother that she wanted to be president of the United States, White would support her, buy her books, and help her map a plan to get there. When Matthews would change her mind and decide to become an archaeologist, White would again support her, buy her books, and help her map a plan to get there. That drive to help people achieve their potential and forge their own path is what fuels White today.
White’s role as The Job Doctor has provided her with a platform to share her message and continue improving the workplace for millions around the world. But this is only the beginning.
“I am uncomfortable every single day,” White says. “I am finding that personally having my brain always firing and learning new things so fast that I can hardly take it in is incredibly fulfilling.”
This new growth has helped White learn to dream bigger at a time when many people are happy to settle in their careers. But Tessa White is preparing to accomplish the impossible.
“People telling me that something is impossible has always made me tick. I love proving people wrong,” she says. “If I step into the unknown and continue to just take one step every day toward what I want to do or become, the universe seems to support it and find me.”
Some exciting developments include White’s new podcast, and her new book, The Unspoken Truths for Career Success: Navigating Pay, Promotions, and Power at Work. These are a couple of the many ways White hopes she can leave people “armed with knowledge” and empowered to improve their lives.
About the exciting future she has planned for her business, White says, “I have seen so many dreams come to pass over the last year that I am certain that I can get there.”
One certainty about that future is that White will continue to help others build better careers and lives. White loves the Joseph Campbell quote, “Follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
She says, “I found my bliss, and I am trying to help other people do the same because I do not think life has to be miserable. I do not think our jobs and our careers have to be miserable. I think there’s a better way.”
To learn more, visit doctortessawhite.com.
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