According to a 2011 research study conducted by the National Career Development Association, “50-nine per cent (59%) of adults in the workforce would try to get more or different information about their options if they could start their work life over again.”The bottom line is that when it comes to creating a career plan, we just aren’t doing our homework. And the result is that more and more people are unhappy with their careers and seeking the help and support of professional career coaches.
Sure, the payoff of hiring a career coach can be huge if you land your dream job, but there are no guarantees. You could end up spending a lot of your hard earned cash for nothing. So we consulted a number of qualified career coaches and their clients to find out how you can get the most out of hiring a career coach.
1. Get clear on your career goals
Often people come to coaching because they don’t know what they want. All they know is that they don’t like their current situation, whether they’re employed or not, and they are frustrated, disappointed, confused, and maybe even angry. Are you looking for a brand new career direction? Do you want to stay in your field but find a new place or way to do your work? “Spend some time writing down the positive and negative aspects of your current job or career, describe your ideal dream job, and identify what your non-negotiables are,” suggests career coach Rachel French, “because it will save you time and money once you start working with a coach.”
2. Be prepared to take a courageous look in the mirror
It’s tough enough to be in sales. It’s especially tough when you’re selling YOU. OK, fine, you aren’t really “selling” yourself when you are trying to seek a new job but the point is that it’s hard to objectively assess your strengths (and weaknesses) and know how you impact others. When you hire a career coach, that’s exactly what they will help you do and it takes courage. You’ll be challenged to fill out personality assessments, get feedback from friends and co-workers, and discuss what makes you tick. Your career coach will be the mirror reflecting back what everyone else sees – both the good and bad – gulp.
3. Find a career coach that understands the “mechanics” of job searching
Beware. Just about any coach you hire will have experience helping you identify your career goals, uncover your values, and build confidence. “That’s the ‘mindset’ of the job searching”, says Carolyn Poole, a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, “but you should also look for a coach that has knowledge of current and leading edge job search ‘mechanics'”. Career coaches need to be up to speed on both traditional job search methods and how to be leverage modern technologies such as social networking sites, blogs, online portfolios, video profiles and more.
4. Ask for help with your materials
In addition to understanding the “mechanics” of job searching, the right career coach will know how to craft a resume that works, cover letters that get attention, and other materials that will be helpful in securing a job. If you aren’t a good writer, do not be shy about asking for support and feedback and even editing. Your coach may not do the work for you, but they should certainly give you some guidance or have resources readily available for you.
5. Talk to 2 or 3 coaches to get the right fit
Having helped thousands of clients find a coach, I know how important it is to find the right coach. The only way to do that is to pick up the phone and talk to at least 2 or 3 coaches. Katie Jeanes, a young professional who had the benefit of working with a career coach shortly after graduating from university informed me that the third coach she interviewed didn’t seem like the right fit at all based on his bio but after a brief conversion, “things clicked and we hit it off.”
6. Be willing to share your whole life
Even though career coaching is about finding a job, you can’t really separate your professional life from your personal life. “Build a true partnership with your career coach” says one of Carolyn Poole’s career coaching clients. “So much of career success is growing and learning how to be transparent and to tackle those things we never knew were holding us back. Many of us already have the hard skills to succeed–but it is a higher level of self awareness that can make us into great leaders. A good coach asks the right questions at the right time, that challenges us to discover our leadership potential and inner passions we may never knew we had.”
7. Get ready to quit your job and fire your boss
If you’re not happy in your current job, odds are it’s not the job. It’s your boss. Or maybe it’s the work environment or the type of company you are working for. A client of mine was climbing the corporate ladder and finding success at every level. He had a dilemma most people want to have: multiple promotion offers within the same company. Too bad it was a cigarette company. No matter how good the compensation package, he was never going to be deeply satisfied there. The only option for him was to quit his job. It took convincing, but he finally did it after developing a thorough back-up plan.
8. Get over your fear of networking
Most jobs are not advertised on public job boards. The best jobs are secured through personal relationships. “But most people dread networking” offers Hiyaguha Cohen, a career coach with a PhD in human development, “and you need to be prepared to get over your fear of networking.” The good news is that a qualified career coach will help you develop an approach for talking to people, craft a compelling career story, and rehearse it with you.
Got any other suggestions? Add your comments below.
Stephan Wiedner is a certified coach and co-founder of Noomii.com, the professional coach directory. Noomii has hundreds of career coaches in dozens of cities.
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