Whether we realized it or not, the college granted us access to many influential career resources. With on-campus recruiters, applications designed for graduating seniors and constant support from our designated career centers, the process of job hunting was much more straightforward than it is now.
A few years after graduation, most people’s lives look different. You might have a full-time job and other responsibilities that leave less time for extra pursuits. As a result, you might not be as focused on your next career move as you once were.
Before I met my current coach, I envisioned them to be a mix between a new-age spiritual guide and Will Smith’s character from the film Hitch (but for job-hunting).
If you couldn’t tell from the title, working with a career coach wasn’t like what I expected it would be. (But hey, if Will Smith was my career coach then sign me up!)
If you feel like you’re in a rut, want to change careers, or simply wish to have a better plan for your future professional life, working with a career coach might be the answer.
From working with a coach, I learned several lessons that proved to be invaluable.
- Don’t just think about your day-to-day tasks when considering your career – think the “big picture”
With our day-to-day lives being so hectic, it’s challenging to think about next week let alone six months down the road. In her book, “Lean In”, Sheryl Sandberg details the importance of having an 18-month plan for your career. Your goal could be something achievable in your current workplace or maybe a new opportunity entirely.
At first, I was hesitant to work with a career coach. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the investment. But after just a few sessions, I realized how helpful it was to have someone who could help me step back and look at my career from a different perspective. My coach helped me get in touch with my goals and build a clearer vision of the type of role I wanted to be in. She also gave me practical advice on what steps I need to take in order to reach my goal. I’m so glad I decided to work with a coach–it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my career!
- Having someone to talk to and be accountable for our goals is extremely helpful, even if we lack clarity about what those goals are
You might be thinking, “Okay, ‘big picture’ thinking about my career sounds great, but what if I have no idea what I want to do or where I’d like to be?”
Our generation is always on the go and looking for the next best thing, so it’s no wonder that we feel lost when things are unclear. A coach can help you figure out what your next move should be by providing you with tools and guidance.
Worksheets, reading materials and conversations with someone who will hold you accountable to deadlines can help get rid of any feelings of being stuck. With these tools and benchmarks, it will be easier to focus on your passions and goals so that when you make a game plan, it is aligned with what truly matters to you.
- Your LinkedIn profile is key (but don’t forget about your other online presence)
If it’s been more than a year since you’ve updated your LinkedIn, raise your hand. A little over a year ago, I was in the same boat and my coach helped me realize how essential it is to have an up-to-date profile that looks professional and reads well.
You can use LinkedIn even if you’re not planning on changing jobs because it helps document and highlight the positive aspects of your career. Additionally, organizing projects from previous years makes it easier to recall key details when necessary.
Although LinkedIn is a powerful job-searching tool, it’s not the only way that future employers can find you. I’m not saying to take down all of your party pictures from Facebook, but depending on what field you’re in, having a Twitter profile with current trends shows your credibility.
- Make sure to do your research, and then double-check your findings
A coach can act as a powerful motivator, but in the end, you will only get out of the experience what you are willing to put into it. Your coach can only do so much if you’re also working towards your goals. A coach can show you the way, but if you’re unwilling to put in extra effort, it’s a waste of time for both of us.
- Plan ahead by being extra organized with your materials and time management
This may be obvious to those of you who are organized, color-coordinated, and use Google calendar religiously. However, if you’re more easygoing with your organization or toss everything into one folder labeled “miscellaneous”, this tip is key.
If you want to work productively with a career coach, organizing is the key.
Yes, managing your schedule includes using folders, stickies, and Google Drive collections. However, that is not the only part—it’s also crucial to how you manage your time in general. Researching, outreach, and planning can be very time-consuming, so you will have to get creative with your calendar if you want to make sure everything gets done.
These are only a handful of the lessons I learned, but there are plenty more where those came from. I’m admittedly biased towards the coach I worked with (Elephant in the Room Consulting) because my coach was always coming up with memorable quotes like “building a career trajectory is a game of chess, finding a job is akin to playing checkers. I want you playing chess not checkers,” however depending on your region and industry, there are all sorts of different resources available to you.
Keep in mind that if you feel trapped or unfulfilled in your current position, it is imperative that you take action. This might entail searching for a career coach or going on an enlightening trip to discover your goals and passions. I can’t vow that you will get your dream job by teaming up with a career coach or taking that vacation, but what I do know is exactly what will happen if you don’t… nothing.