Is working with a career coach a smart investment for you? The short answer? Hell yeah! Careers aren’t simple to navigate, no matter who you are. Whether you’ve been at it for 20 years or this is your first job out of school, having a partner makes the experience less daunting. Having a skilled, certified, experienced guide is priceless. Full disclosure, I’m a career coach. And I work with a coach as well. Here’s why it’s worth your while.
Objective perspective. Many of us are lucky enough to have people in our lives who care about us. People who, no matter what we say or do, believe we’re brilliant and can do no wrong. Your mother or your friends can’t fathom why you’ve not been promoted or haven’t received that offer you’ve been waiting for. In their eyes, clearly that boss of yours or that company is insane. I’m not saying that the the support of loved ones isn’t powerful, but don’t be fooled, it is biased and not always doing us a favor to hear.
Sometimes, we need to share our stories with a professional who isn’t in it with us every day. A person who can ask just the right questions to get us to see situations from different angles that may help to shed light on our own behaviors and how they might be impeding our success. Someone who has perspective that may or may not vary from what your circle of friends says but who will give you tough love if you need it. Now, that is valuable!
There’s always someone in your corner. Being your own best advocate is really difficult to do. It’s not uncommon that you need guidance and feedback from a trusted source to do so effectively. That’s where a coach comes in. Are you stressing over an upcoming performance review conversation where you know you and your boss don’t see eye to eye?
Would doing a dry run with a business leader who will help you think it through and express your thoughts in the best possible way but in a safe environment be impactful? Bingo. You want a coach. Whether it’s a larger career path discussion with your boss or simply needing a gut check and validation that what is happening doesn’t seem right, your coach will be there for those moments. In it with you.
Guide for change. If you are looking to make a career change, be it into another field or industry, another organization, or generally seeking advancement, it takes work. And it certainly isn’t easy to do alone. Career coaches specialize in leading you through those moments in life. Their focus is to help you gain clarity, confidence, insights and the courage to go after what it is you want.
Are you looking to navigate a job search? (talk about a full time job in and of itself!) Thinking through the strategy and approach and getting another set of eyes on your resume or portfolio can be the differentiator that you need to help you land at that next level. Have you been told you need to up those people skills in order to get a VP title and that’s what’s prompting your outreach? Keep that in mind when selecting the person with whom you might like to work. Coaches typically have a specialty and a realm of coaching & type of clients that they choose to focus on. You want to make certain you’ve found the right guide for you.
Calling your bluff & Holding you accountable. Each coach has their own individual style, and just like any relationship in life, you want to make sure it jives with yours. Coaches are there to make certain you’re moving forward towards the goals you’ve identified. Again, making change isn’t simple. And we all have lives outside of our careers we’re leading. Clients, on occasion, (not you though, never you) need a push.
If you’ve agreed to identifying three organizations you’d be thrilled to work for within a week and you’ve not done it, or rescheduled on the coach twice, they are going to call you on it. That is what you want. Part of what is so amazing about this experience is having a person who is invested in your success and is willing to have uncomfortable conversations to get you beyond those moments when you tend to get in your own way.
When it comes to seeking out a coach, be proactive. Don’t wait until you’re so miserable that you can’t see straight. You never know what insights you might uncover or opportunities suddenly become available within your world through the work you do with a coach. Now, how to find the right one for you. First things first, have a sense of what you’re looking for. Coaches tend to have specialities. Life coaches are AMAZING but they might not be the person for you to seek out specific to your career.
Finding the right fit is important. There are some outstanding programs out there like The Muse’s Coach Connect or Career Contessa’s Hire a Mentor which have already done some of the legwork for you. You can also check out individual coaches listed on the sites of specific training programs like Live Lead Play or even the International Coach Federation directory. They vet each and every one of their coaches prior to engaging with them. You can also take to social. Ask your friends and family for referrals. And once you’ve got them, do your digging. Most coaches have sites where they share their approach, writing they’ve done, speaking engagements, etc where you’re able to get a sense of the person with whom you’d be working.
When it comes to engaging with a coach, instead of focusing on, “Can I afford to do this?” ask yourself, “Can I afford not to?” Life is too short for you to spend it miserable at work. Working with a coach allows you to gain clarity and courage to take the right next steps for you and have support while doing so. Landing the role of your dreams or starting your own successful business is so big and so worth an investment on the upfront to be certain you’re not getting in your own way.
Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at www.kellypoulson.com.
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