If you’re looking for a job and have not had much success on your own, it may be time to look into career coaching.
What is career coaching?
Career coaching is similar to – but different from – career counseling and even career development. Career coaching is a sub-specialty of general coaching, which is an action-oriented, confidential relationship designed to help the client set and achieve goals.
Coaches help clients identify their own skills, strengths and abilities – something that comes in mighty handy when those clients are looking for a new job, to reenter the workforce after an absence or to start an entirely new career after retirement.
Career coaching also gives people the tools they need to create relevant resumes and cover letters, handle interviews (including answering tough questions) and negotiate. Learning how to negotiate is vital when it comes to asking for a raise or promotion at your current job, or getting the best salary and benefits at a new job.
Coaching can even assist those who don’t have the slightest idea of what they want.
What a career coach does
Here are some of the skills that career coaches bring to the table:
- Actively listens to what you are saying, and what you are not saying.
- Knows the right questions to ask.
- Has the intestinal fortitude to kindly call you on your nonsense.
- Challenges your beliefs about what you can – and more importantly, what you believe you cannot – achieve.
- Focuses on helping you get what’s best for you, not what others think is best for you.
- Motivates you to keep you moving forward.
- Has coach training by an accredited agency. (My credential required a minimum 60 hours of training and 100 hours of coaching. I am well beyond 100 hours nearly 15 years later.)
I also have more than 30 years of management experience (including hiring and firing) in the newspaper industry and the local chamber of commerce. In those jobs, I not only interviewed hundreds of people, but looked at hundreds or even thousands of resumes and cover letters.
Career counseling is more industry-specific and directive, focusing on educating you about salaries, job openings, trends, statistics and so on. This could be exactly what you need if you are just starting on your employment path; a career coach will expect you to do that work yourself. Using this kind of counseling can guide you into suitable career paths as well as discover what you’re good at.
A career development specialist is generally someone who works in your company’s Human Resource Department. This individual provides specialized programs, assessments, training and mentoring for employees identified as having high potential.
Focusing on the best and the brightest on staff helps the company retain its top employees, provides a path to leadership positions and improves the company’s overall profitability.
The career development specialist is about the company first, and the employee second. Career coaches always put the client first.
Questions your career coach should ask
Honestly, not every person looking for a job needs a career coach (my coach once told me no one “needs” a coach, but everyone can benefit). The questions I will ask during a free exploratory session:
- What kind of job do you want? In what industry?
- Where are you in your job search?
- Do you have a resume?
- How many resumes have you sent out?
- Do you send out the same resume for every job opening?
- Do you send resumes by email or snail mail, or do you submit them through an automated online screening program?
- What kind of response is your resume getting?
- Have you had any interviews? If so, what do you think you did well? What do you think you can improve upon? Have you had any callbacks?
Depending on the responses to these questions, I can quickly narrow down what areas need to be addressed first – and it’s typically the resume. Occasionally the blockage occurs elsewhere – they are lousy at interviews, they don’t know how to network… or they don’t know what they want.
All these topics and more will be explored in more depth in future blog articles.
Do you have questions about career coaching? Please share in the comments below. I’d love to help.