Career coaching sounds like a good idea, in theory. We’re familiar with the concept of coaching as most of us have had a sports coach at some point in our lives. Having a personal trainer or workout coach has become a popular trend for many as well. If you’ve ever had a coach, then you know the benefit of having someone there who knows something about your current fitness, your past experiences, your future goals and keeping you on track and focused to achieve those goals.
I don’t know many people who would attempt to get involved in a new sport without the benefit of someone to coach them. Someone who can help them to understand the rules of the game, gain some basic techniques, and understand winning strategies.
However, when it comes to our careers we tend to think or believe that we can and should go it alone.
At first glance, it may seem that people are too proud, or too confident to ask for help. However, with a little deeper investigation, it’s clear that people don’t really understand what a career coach does, or how a career coach can help their unique situation.
To help clear up some of the confusion, and answer some of the most commonly asked questions, I have answered the top 8 questions for anyone looking for a new job or career transition of any sort.
Q: How exactly does career coaching work?
A. Seeking the advice of a career coach is one of the best ways to lift your job search efforts to the next level, and shorten the time you spend in transition. Whether you’re looking for a new job, or hoping to move up in your current position, career coaches can help you devise the best strategic plan and set actionable goals based on your unique situation, skills, expertise, and career goals.
Q: What can a career coach do that you can’t do on your own?
A: While many of us rely on friends and family to be our sounding board and provide those all important sanity checks these amazing people are not going always able to see us as a hiring manager would. Having an accurate image of yourself in terms of the job market is what a career coach offers you. Coaches are there to see you as hiring managers, recruiters, and your professional networks see you. They provide the advice and guidance you need to establish a professional image and strategy that will get you hired.
Q: How do I find a qualified career coach?
A. Decide what is important for you in terms of what a coach can provide for you. Like many industries there are those who are ‘qualified and certified’. While an alphabet ( CPCC, ACC/PCC/MCC/SHRM/HCRI) of certifications behind ones name is elaborate and impressive the choice should always be based on what you want to get out of a coaching process whether there is an alphabet soup or not. A credible coach is one whose expertise is tailored to your needs.
Ask your potential coach if he or she has experience coaching people through any of these scenarios that are applicable to you:
- Major career moves
- Career transitioning
- Creative retirement
- Redeployment within a company
- Joining the gig economy
- Or a situation which you are facing in your career
In addition, look for a career coach that has the industry and functional knowledge that matches your career goals. If you’ve been laid off, or are at a company going through restructuring, you may not necessarily want to find another job in the same industry or in the same role. If you’re ready to transition into something different, be sure your coach has the experience necessary to help you make the change you’re seeking.
Q: Do you have any stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of coaching?
I have so many success stories to share, but here are two that stand out to me.
Carmen’s story: When Carmen started her engagement with one of career coaches she was traumatized and felt that she didn’t have any value. After speaking to her, the coach found out she had several high-revenue wins at her company that simply weren’t valued or acknowledged by management. She consistently made her company several million dollars over five years despite working in the contracts department, which is usually a cost-centre, not a revenue generator. Together, we worked to get her up to speed with her professional image, self-marketing documents, and interviewing skills. In addition to building her self-esteem Jane and her coach worked together for 3 months and she interviewed at six or seven places with multiple rounds, and then received an offer you simply could not refuse.
Christine’s story: When Christine started with her coach, she immediately let her coach know she had very severe environmental allergies and related health issues that literally affected her ability to leave home. She was violently allergic to specific plants and had to use a nebulizer four times a day, which added to her restrictions. In addition she had an immune deficiency which added to and complicated matters significantly. When she had her first call with her coach, she was very concerned and lacked the confidence that she would find an opportunity where she’d have the flexibility to work from home. To start, her coach helped her re-frame her perspective and focus not on her restrictive medical conditions, but on the value she brings an organization. Over the next four weeks, they worked together to create a target company list. Within one month, she was offered her dream job where she works exclusively from home!
“My coach provided me the motivation and attitude change I really needed to effectively search for a job that suited my needs. She gave me the tools and shared insight and inside knowledge of how company recruiting works so I could modify my approach,” she said.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who has been offered career coaching as part of a severance package?
First, I would say – Accept the help you’re being offered. If your employer has enlisted the help of an outplacement provider who matches you with a career coach, you’ll get the time, support, and expert advice you need to make a successful transition to a new job faster. It’s a mistake to let your emotional reaction to your situation cloud your judgement and ignore this valuable service that is being paid for by your company.
Some organizations may provide you with a coach as part of a structured development and career growth plan. Taking advantage of the opportunity to use a career coach can help you identify growth opportunities and stay on track with a personalized professional growth plan. Your career coach can help you identify professional growth options, such as:
- Further education
- Skills development opportunities
- Openings to expand responsibilities
- Possible cross-functional duties and projects
Companies that are providing coaching for their employees during workforce transitions may also engage career coaches to provide support related to resiliency. If offered, use your career coach to help you develop the skills you need to process change – whether that change is by choice or by force.
Learning how to deal with change is a skill you can use in many aspects of your life. Companies who do provide coaching and resiliency training understand that when resiliency can be developed as a skill by individuals, the company will benefit.
During a time of transition, your coach can work with you to establish a personal transition plan, set short- and long-term goals for the transition, and identify the benefits and expected outcomes of the transition.
Q: What exactly does a career coach do?
A career coach is there to meet you where you are and move you to the next level in your career or job search. They can provide insightful answers to specific questions, help you address a specific challenge that you’ve identified, such as salary negotiation skills, or give you the advice and guidance you need to polish your job search skills and refine your approach to looking for a job.A qualified career coach will be able to help you boost your image and develop the strategies and skills you need to land a job that best fits your abilities and desires.
Specifically, look to a career coach to provide any of the following:
- Winning job search strategies
- Interviewing strategies and troubleshooting
- Mock interview practice
- Advice to improve your digital profile
- Social media image development
- Networking strategies and advice
- Salary negotiation skills
- Career identification
- Develop a strong personal brand that communicates your value
- Ascertain opportunities
- Prioritize options
- Bring clarity to your myriad of career questions
- Create a career plan
- Provide resources and tools to put your plan into action
- Career goal setting
Everyone needs a coach. A great coach will help you think beyond the limitations you’ve set for yourself and be there to guide you and cheer you on. See yourself as your teammates, recruiters, and hiring mangers see you – through the eyes of a coach who will find the best in you and help you to show your best to others.
The core virtue of career coaching is to help people assess their professional situations with a greater degree of honesty, curiosity, empathy and compassion.
Here are the most common misconceptions about career coaching?
My top three?
- That a well-done résumé is all you need to conduct an effective job search.
- A career coaches will actually find you a job.
- You only have to attend a single career-coaching session … and your job challenges will be resolved. It actually takes about eight to 10 hours of coaching for the typical client to begin internalizing the key benefits of coaching.
Realistic expectations for working with a career coach?
By and large, clients can reasonably expect to gain career confidence, insight, encouragement and inspiration.
They should also feel as if the coaching relationship grants them some permission to relax a bit. Job searching can create a fair amount of anxiety, fear and vulnerability in people, and I often work with clients to unwrap those emotions so they can better understand how these factors may be keeping them stuck in the careers they hate.
A career coach will hold you accountable to the goals you have set for yourself. You can expect to have a crystal clear, realistic and achievable plan of action to achieve those goals quickly and efficiently when you work with a career coach,