So you are still plugging away in a job that you hate, that’s just not right, or even just a bit ‘meh’.
But the idea of asking for help when it comes to your career is still a bit ‘out there’ - you only need a Career Coach when you are making a massive change right?
A Career coach is for you if you want to make changes in your career – sounds simple eh?
They will help you set big goals, explore your next steps, get out of your own way and start moving towards wherever it is you want to be, even if it feels a million miles away right now.
“But Vicki, of course you are going to say that, you are a Career Coach!”.
Yeh, I know. But the reason that I say it is that I believe it! Without the coach who showed me the way I would not be here. I went from working long hours in a job that I knew wasn’t right for me, to working around my kids, talking to lots of wonderful women about building the careers that they deserve and that work them and their families.
Can you do it on your own? Maybe. Can a coach make the process easier, faster and more enjoyable? Definitely!
What is coaching?
Coaching is a process that helps build a bridge between where you currently are and where you would like to be. And having a coach to walk across the bridge with you is far more effective that trying to do it all alone.
“How?” I hear you ask – well, a coach’s role is to use powerful questions and tools to dig down into what it is you really want, what has been holding you back (that pesky inner critic) and explore the skills and strengths you have that can make the goal a reality.
How is coaching different from mentoring, consulting or counselling?
A mentor is someone who's travelled the same path as you, who can offer advice based on experience, whereas a consultant is someone who you pay because they have expertise in a particular area
A coach is also not a counsellor, so if you have mental health concerns, or feel like traumatic incidents in your past need to be explored then a coach may not be the right choice right now, and you should check out more specialist support.
5 Reasons why working with a career coach is so powerful:
1. You make a commitment to yourself and to the coach
By investing in a coach you are investing in yourself, and will therefore take much more action than if you were just going it alone.
2. You will find a role that is more in alignment with your values
Rather than just helping you move from job to job, a coach will help you dig into what’s important to you, and the end result will be a career in which you will thrive, rather than just survive.
3. You will overcome your own limiting beliefs
That little devil on your shoulder? The one that starts nattering away that ‘you can’t do it’ or that ‘no one will pay you to do that’? A coach will help you recognise these thoughts for what they are – just thoughts rather than facts – and help you develop a mindset that is more focused on growth and development.
4. You will get out of your comfort zone and start moving forward
When it is just you and a laptop, endlessly scrolling through career change articles, it is much easier to stay in your pyjamas, firmly in your comfort zone rather than going to an networking event or exploring a new potential idea by actually talking to people (gasp!) . Having a coach tracking your moves can help push you to try things you didn’t think possible, and then push a little bit further.
5. You will gain a cheerleader!
Talking to friends and family about careers can be a tricky thing – however, a coach is an independent set of ears, a sounding board solely focused on helping you get the best out of yourself. There is no vested interest, no ulterior motive, and so they are the best people to be sharing your wins and successes with.
If this sounds like something that would be useful for you - where do you start?
How do you go about finding someone to help you take the next step forward? Before you go running off to hire the first career coach you can find, click here to download my checklist of 21 questions to ask a career coach, and read on below to see my tips on finding the coach who's right for you.
What can a career coach help you with?
All career coaches work in a different way, and focus on different things. I help women build the careers that are right for them by focusing on the following areas:
1. What's important to you:
Exploring your values , and how they fit into your career and life will ensure you feel more connected to and gain more joy and satisfaction out of what you are doing.
2. Your super skills and strengths:
We all have things we are amazing at, and the chances are that working with these skills is going to result in you doing great work, and so I explore what you love doing, and how you love doing it so that you can be ready to use your super skills at the next opportunity.
3. Figuring out your next career move:
Feeling a bit 'meh' about your career isn't fun, so I use a tried and tested way of exploring your next step, through a series of small projects designed to get you testing ideas and having fun in a low risk way.
4. Building a vision for your career in the future:
Success looks different for all of us, and examining what it might mean for you can allow you to sidestep the things you feel you 'should' be doing and concentrate on the things that are actually going to be good for you.
5. Balancing your career and your life:
As a mum of 2 young boys, I get it. Careers are important, but so are other things too. I work with you to figure out what a good work life balance might look like for you, and work through the obstacles that might get in the way.
Exploring these 5 areas will help you build a career you love, and that works for you and your family.
How to find the right career coach for you
Working with a great coach can provide you with amazing clarity, and help you reach your goals. When looking for a career coach to work with, you’ll want to ensure they have the right skillset. You’ll also want to ensure they motivate you, and that you trust them.
Here’s 5 points to consider when looking for a good coach:
1. Why a coach? And why now?
Before you get carried away spending your hard earned cash, it pays to think about what a coach is (and isn’t) and check its the right solution for you.
It can be helpful to think in advance about exactly what you want to get out of the experience - what are your goals? This will allow you to have open and honest conversations with any coaches, right from the start.
Coaching is an amazing experience, but it’s not a quick and easy, wave a magic wand fix, so think about whether you have the time to commit, or how you are going to make the time. Thinking about this in advance, and maybe blocking time out in your calendar will allow you to participate fully in the experience and really get the best from it.
2. Ask around and think about your ideal coach
So how to find a coach? The chances are someone you know will have used one before, so ask around. Personal recommendation is often the best way to start the search, but it doesn’t mean that the coach who was right for your friend is going to be perfect for you, so make sure you think about the kind of coach that’s going to right for you.
Do you need someone who’s going to challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone, or are you looking for someone gentle?
Is there something in particular you want help with, eg communication skills, becoming a better manager, or even figuring out what you want to next career wise. There are coaches in every conceivable area of life and business, and where you can, it pays to be as specific as possible. So googling ‘life coach London” will be probably less help then ‘communications coach for women returning to work in Islington”
If you are keen on face to face sessions (obviously tricky right now) then consider geographical location, or check that the coach does video calls - it’s not quite the same as sharing a coffee, but it’s a good alternative.
3. Check them out
Now you have a shortlist it can be useful to do a bit of online digging, to get a feel for the kind of coach they are - do they have a blog? A free facebook group? Are they active on LinkedIn?
The more you can read about them, their way of doing things, the more you are going to be able to get a feel for whether they would be a good coach for you. It can tell you a lot about their coaching style, their life philosophy etc.
You can also check out their credentials - coaching is an unregulated industry right now, and as such anyone can call themselves a coach. Have look to see whether the coach is linked with any professional body, (such as ICF, the EMCC, APECS or the Association for Coaching) or how they trained. However, it doesn’t mean that all accredited coaches are great, or that you need to steer away from coaches without formal qualifications, but just be aware and do your due diligence.
The main thing to look at is testimonials - the people the coach has worked with. What they say about their experience can give you a huge insight into what working with a particular coach may be like.
4. Have a chat - is there chemistry?
Coaching is an intimate process - you are going to be sharing information and feelings with someone you don’t really know, and so it’s vital to check that there is ‘chemistry’ between you.
Most coaches off a free call to check out whether you click together, and to give you a chance to ask any questions you might have. Indeed, I would be wary of signing up to any coaching where you didn’t get to have this kind of call.The relationship is so vital, for both you and the coach, that it pays to take the time to get it right.
Be sure to check out how the coach works, and whether that’s going to work for you - if you want to do face to face sessions, can you agree a mutually convenient time / location? Or will video calling via Skype or Zoom be enough?
5. The Devil’s in the detail.
Once you’ve found the coach you want to work with, take a step back and look at the details - it’s likely you will get a contract with all of the points set out so take some time to go through it and check you are happy. Take note of:
Where and when the sessions will be, and who’s responsibility it is to get in touch with the other. And it’s a good idea to block out this time in your diary now.
If you need to cancel a session, what is the process? Is there a penalty for late cancellation?
Look at the payment required - and check if this is the total amount or whether you are liable for other amounts going forward, eg travel expenses
If things go wrong, what is the process for terminating the agreement? Will you be entitled to a refund for unused sessions?
Once you are happy with all the details you can make your final decision - a coaching relationship isn’t something to be rushed into, so make sure you take whatever time you need to come to your decision.
Coaching can (and should) be a challenging, eye opening, and ultimately enjoyable experience, it’s something that can change your life, not just your career.
My biggest tip would be to keep an open mind, throw yourself in and commit to the process, and enjoy the relationship that builds between coach and coachee.
If you’d like a checklist of 21 questions to ask a career coach, then click here.
To find out more about the coaching I do, then please check out my website here.
I also run a free facebook group for women looking to build a career they love called the Career Confidence Club - why not come and check it out?