If you’re looking to take the next step in your career but don’t know where to start, we have two words for you to consider: career coach. Much like a sports coach or fitness coach, a professional career coach can help you gain and maintain focus, direction and motivation.
How do you know if this is the right next step for you? Here are a few ways career coaching can make all the difference.
1: Focus on a Plan
Often when contemplating your next career move, you may know you want to do something different, but be unsure what kind of work that might be. Or maybe you feel like you know what you want… but you don’t know the best way to get there. Or perhaps like many of our clients, you have multiple choices, ideas, and goals, and can’t sort out which one is the “right” one to pursue, taking both practical and soul-satisfying factors into consideration.
A professional career coach can help you prioritize, identify a goal you want to reach, and devise a plan. What are your financial needs right now? What flexibility do you have? What do you long to do? What experience do you need? What skills do you need to develop? What do you need to work on in order to reach your goal, and are you willing and able to do these things?
A career coach will help you sort through these factors and once determined, start working strategically towards the position you really want. The path forward isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem, so having a wise guide on your side can be a real asset as you chart your course.
2: Find a Direction
You might think you know your strengths and weaknesses, but are you choosing a professional path that really harnesses your strengths? Does the work you do align with your personality and unique way of interacting with others and the world, so you can find yourself working in an environment you’re likely to thrive in? And what about values? What matters most to you: money, competition, collaboration, purpose, creativity, innovation, social justice, or something else? What careers and professional roles are likely to align with your values?
Choose a career coach who is professionally trained to help you find a job suited to your strengths, skills, abilities, and values. It is possible to find a good career fit. When you hire a professional, he or she will go beyond your last job and look at your skills, interests, and abilities to help you find what’s uniquely suited to you. There will likely be exploratory homework assignments. Maybe you’ll discover something you’ve always wanted to pursue but haven’t, or something you never would have thought of. Either way, we spend a lot of our hours, days, and years working. Doesn’t it make sense to choose wisely?
3: Look Objectively at Your Challenges, Actions, and Results
If you’ve repeatedly tried and failed to move forward in your career, you might be making the same mistakes without realizing it. Maybe you’re jumping the gun and missing out on crucial steps that would give you a better chance of getting your dream job. Maybe you’re simply approaching the situation from a narrow perspective, overlooking skills and you already possess and tactics you can easily employ to have a better chance at success. Or maybe you just need a new strategy that fits how the job market works now.
With a professional career coach in your corner, you can work on identifying all that you’re doing right, and what might be better if done differently. He or she has insider knowledge of the most common actions - or inactions – that can hold you back, as well as those that can propel you forward. Instead of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity), learn to be open-minded and consider new approaches.
4: Become Immune to Failure
It’s easy to get discouraged when searching for jobs, and even easier when doing it alone. Perhaps your dream job is just out of reach, you’re not getting responses, or rejections are getting you down. It can make even the most diligent and determined sometimes feel weary and want to give up.
I once learned something at a professional training years ago that really stuck with me, and I have shared it with many clients since. The trainer spent a lot of time talking about failure, and asking participants what failure meant. You can imagine the kinds of sad, discouraged, negative things people said. The trainer responded by defining failure rather scientifically, saying“Failure is getting results other than the results you intended.” Suddenly it was just data, without emotional charge at all, and the solution was apparent: Try something else. Yes!
When working alone, it’s easy to give up. Working with a career coach, you’re more likely to regroup, reassess, and approach the situation in a new way. The key to success is perseverance, trying something else. You can’t reach your goal by letting defeat win. Take advantage of a trained professional to help you keep your eyes on the prize.
5: Stand Out from the Crowd
You might think you have a great resume and that your interview skills are polished to perfection, but in reality, do you know what separates you from everyone else (i.e., your professional brand)? While you might think you know what to say to make yourself sound like
an ideal candidate, you might be ignoring some unique qualities that could really make employers interested. A career coach will get to know you and help you present yourself in the best possible light, giving you that extra advantage you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.
6: Get Results
More than anything else, a career coach can help you see results much faster than if you were going it alone. From coming up with strategies to help you find your next right move, to coaching you on tough interview questions that could be deal-breakers or makers, career coaches know how to help you position yourself for the position you want. So instead of hoping for the best, consult a career coach who know what employers are looking for. Then together, you can devise strategies to help land that key interview, and then knock it out of the park.