A lot of my work is dedicated to employability and career transition coaching. Helping someone move forward to re-enter the workplace, perhaps managing the process for changing jobs or careers, outgrown your current role or even more exciting a completely different career is a terrific buzz. Career transition coaching can mean different things to different people. However, the way we manage our working lives can affect us all in many ways, both financially and for our peace of mind. Thing is, if you are in a position to think about support to move your working life forward, how on earth do folk know the quality of the coach or if an agency is going to work for them?
There are a number of organisations that advertise to help you manage your career. Some charge huge sums to give you the benefit of their experience and resources. I have been unlucky enough to have the “benefit” of an outplacement service, following a contract ending in a past role. In one sense it was sold to me as a positive programme of honing my employment skills, one-to-one coaching and re-jigging my CV etc. The contract with the career management agency was for 12 months that sadly resulted in no interviews, employment leads or investment in me as a client. I had a few printed sheets with “tricky interview questions” and a list of web based job sites to search – and that was it! The consultant was more interested in getting his lunch than helping me move forward! Very disappointing experience I would not wish anyone to go through.
So in the light of all that, I have put together a few questions you might want to ask yourself and the coach before you employ them to support you to help you with your career
- What track record does the coach have and what are their qualifications? You need to know that the coach has a background in employment, recruitment and coaching – and that you can work with them. Who have they helped before and how did they help the person find the life at work they are looking for? Lastly, are they qualified to deliver a confidential and structured service – ask them about this to be confident about the service on offer.
- Are they members of recognised professional bodies such as the British Psychological Society etc, with recognised codes of ethics and guidelines to protect you and your well-being? And are they insured for the service to you – usually for professional indemnity and public liability. Plus will be covered by the data protection act here in the UK to ensure confidentiality.
- What areas of coaching do they specialise in? There are many colours of coaching available from the life coach who may have had minimal training to coaches who have years of education, continual professional development and experience in careers, recruitment and employment. If this is what you are looking for then look for a coach specialising in this area.
- Can you access a variety of ways to get the support you need i.e. telephone, email, face-to-face? Some coaches and agencies only work 9-5 does that suit you? Spend time getting the coach and the type of service you need.
- Do they offer a confidential & complementary Career Health Check, prior to you signing on the dotted line? You need to be sure the coach and the methods are right for you. You may need to feel confident that your coach can help you with your issues and to help you solve them. So most career coaches of substance will offer you this initial complementary service. They will also make their fee structure transparent with no hidden extras
- Lastly, can they guarantee results – well no. It all depends upon a number of different factors such as how much work you (as the client) is prepared to put in and if you trust the coach. I can’t think of many coaches that will guarantee you will be in the job or the career you want just by waving a magic wand! So be prepared to put some work into your personal and professional development.
I know it all sounds a little onerous and that its a bit too much hassle to search out and employ a competent career coach. The reassurance is that when it works, career coaching will energise and give you the support necessary to achieve your future career goals and aspirations. Call or email me to discuss my career transition coaching packages and how to find the career you will fall in love with all over again.
Here we are 2014 already and for for many of us already back hard at work. If you are anything like me it can be a struggle after the Christmas & New Year Break. I hope that my blog article in August 2013 “Happy Holidays” was useful for some to manage the transition back to the workplace. Certainly gathers together some interesting research from psychology on how to make things a little easier at least. Anyway, as we are moving onward and headlong into 2014, perhaps now is the time to reappraise careers and move onto new horizons? Moving on to a more fulfilling and meaningful career, to re-focus upon your untapped potential or looking for promotion?
I am sure for those dissatisfied with their jobs or careers looking for new opportunities can appear initially daunting. Staying with the devil you know may be the best option in the midst of the current recession. However, some recent research and utilising my own experience coaching people toward new and fulfilling roles, career & coaching narratives offers a different perspective to career change. Your career narrative is primarily a move away from the fixed snapshot of your capabilities that perhaps psychometric testing can offer, toward exploring the value of your experience and the narrative of your working life. The goal is to look at career pathways taken and perhaps abandoned in the past – plus your hopes and fears for the future career. Indeed writing requires a complex dialogue between you, the pen and the page involves meta-cognitive & sometimes difficult honest self-reflective skills. Therefore may well be a challenging prospect.
So how does narrative career coaching work? So to start with it is best summed up as method for evaluating a writing style and content to look at patterns of word use. Some research suggests that shifting phrases and terms reflects an ability to step in and out of a career positions and to gain control & make sense of its narrative. The mix of emotionally loaded words can also be significant. Writing that contains more positive than negative words perhaps reflects a healthier direction for a your career progression. That stated an absence of negative emotionally loaded phrases suggests an unwillingness to engage with the challenges met and overcome. Investigating these styles over time, it may be possible to view changes in how individuals see their world view and their future. Indeed for our purposes, their career & work future
I think you will agree this method is a departure to systematic and sometimes uninteresting process of career transition management. Such as looking at CV’s, interview skills and covering letters for example. They all have there place and are important and I certainly utilise these and a number of techniques whilst coaching for career change. However, by exploring the individual narrative and career values i.e. what do you really stand for and believe in your career, you really start the process of a career path that will satisfy and fulfil you. It is only until you understand these key aspects about yourself that can create the sense of urgency to change, break the career change inertia and become your own career entrepreneur.
Now then going back to the issue of career narratives you may be interested to have a go at becoming a career ball-point explorer.
- Creative Style of Writing – One approach is to write a piece that involves a career – perhaps someone starting an new and exciting job – and then step back to reflect upon the themes that emerge.
- Reflective Method of Writing – To see experiences from a range of viewpoints. Some people were asked to respond to a series of prompts such as “Write a sentence about yourself and then write it again saying the opposite. See your career perhaps from a number of perceptual lenses i.e. from the organisation, your line manager or perhaps a co-worker. This reflective method may offer you the chance to explore many different vantage points to consider strengths and development areas.
- Expressive Method of Writing – Try writing about your personal topics, doing justice to the emotional context, whilst exploring how events make you feel. This emotional dimension permeates and overlaps with the others. Perhaps a technique where a stressful thought is investigated through responding to four questions – e.g. “How do you react when you believe the thought?” to deepen and tease out the depth of the possible feelings.
Needless to say, writing expressively about your career successes and failures can be difficult and sometimes an emotionally charged experience that may not be for everyone. Imagine how some people may harbour resentment over redundancy or lack of promotion opportunities etc. It may be an opportunity to look into a creative writing course to help focus your attention on how to go about writing your story constructively. Either way, career narrative coaching is a new and novel way of exploring career transition opportunities. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about career coaching transitions and change for 2014.