When Robert lost his job a few years ago due to a company restructuring process, he asked a friend of his whether he needed to think about getting a career coach. His friend answered with an enthusiastic “yes”, followed by, “two years ago”. Unfortunately, we hear some variation of this story on a regular basis. The truth is, most people could benefit from having a career coach at different points during their professional journey. It’s also true that we don’t think about it until catalytic mechanism, like losing your job, causes us to seek help.
Career coaching has two primary paths, each with many side trails depending on what your goals are. Those primary paths are:
- Career or job change. If you have come to the place in your career where it’s time to make a change and look for a different job, a career coach can be instrumental. This coaching relationship involves helping you get laser focused about what you want next. You will work together to build an action plan that includes exploring the things you value from work and career and then trying to identify places to apply your skills, passions, and values. A good coach will ask many questions and provide candid feedback about what you are trying to accomplish.
- Career development. This type of coaching happens when you are not necessarily determined to leave your organization, but you are absolutely interested in getting better at your current job or move up within the company. Many of the tools and processes will remain the same, but you may also get feedback from your boss, coworkers and direct reports as part of s 360-degree feedback process. The end result will be the creation of an individual development plan. Once the plan is complete, you’ll work with your coach periodically as you work through the action items you have identified.
What to Look for in a Coach
The most important thing to look for in a career coach is someone you connect with personally and professionally. This process requires you to be open and honest about the things you need to work on to achieve your goals. There are times when difficult conversations need to be had and you have to feel as if you can get the support you need and feel comfortable sharing your weaknesses.
Additionally, you will want to ask the following questions:
- How much will coaching cost? – Initial cost as well as realistic cost to achieve your desired objectives.
- What is the coaching process? – Does the coach use a structured process or is it more free-form. Can they adjust their process to fit the way you want to work with the coach?
- What is expected of you? – The coach will give you advice, direction, and tools. There will be work for you to do. Often times significant amounts of work. Having a realistic preview will help you make a decision about whether you are ready.
- How will we measure success? – Coaching costs money. You want to know what success looks like and whether you are getting your money’s worth for the time you are putting in.
Once you find a career coach, you will have access to their knowledge and experience to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Take advantage of it. Do the work necessary and you will soon have the job or career you’ve been thinking about. To learn more about On Target Talent’s career coaching services, drop us a line.
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