It might be a newbie to the recruitment field, but career coaching is gaining ground as the ‘must have’ for any serious job hunter. For those who haven’t experienced it, coaching can be hard to fathom. Career coaches are not career advisors. Coaches don’t tell, they ask. They also listen, sometimes provoke, and often challenge.
But one of the tenets of coaching is that our client probably knows the answers – if only they had support in clarifying their thinking…
Whether they do executive, business or life coaching, a professional coach uses two basic tools:
- Active listening – good coaches don’t pretend to listen while thinking about the next weekend. They REALLY listen. They hear the hesitation in your voice. They are curious about changes in your body language. These are the kind of people who tell you they noticed the way you slightly clench every time you say how you’ve always wanted to be a doctor. And then they fire up their second tool…
- Powerful questioning. These are the questions that pierce right through your bluffs and swagger and get to the heart of the matter. “I noticed you clenched your fists. I’m wondering if there is something about the idea of being a doctor that doesn’t sit right with you?”
Coaching can uncover our long held beliefs and our inconsistencies. Your father was a doctor and always hoped you would join the family practice. You dream of being an artist, but don’t want to disappoint him. A career coach can give you the opportunity to think through what work you would do if there were no expectations, no limits, no responsibilities. A coach can help work out an action plan to your dreams, while taking on board the day to day realities of life. OK so you want to be an artist, but you have a big mortgage and three small children. What needs to happen to make your dream a reality? The answers you come up with might astonish you.
I work with a lot of leaders, helping them move from competent manager to inspirational catalyst. I help prepare them for interviews and presentations. In many cases it’s the obvious question that is hardest to answer – you’ve thought through the strategic and monetary implications of the latest Government policy, but can’t say why you want the job. Again, the powerful questioning and active listening tools come in. A coach will spot you winging it and drill down where you have rehearsed a set answer. With my client’s permission, I can play bad cop to my own bad cop. But in an increasingly competitive job market, better this happen before you are in the interview room.
The most common issue for clients to bring is whether or not to leave their current job. In our current economic climate, job security is at a premium. One client was feeling very frustrated, he wanted to move jobs but couldn’t think what to do. After some coaching he realised his job fulfilled a lot of needs: creativity, challenge, travel to interesting places. But his personal life needed a makeover. He wanted to settle down, literally to grow some roots. He went to night school to develop his interest in gardening, in his spare time he volunteered in a community allotment. He left behind the frustration he had felt.
…This client hadn’t needed a new job, he needed balance.
Career coaching is sometimes not just about our job. It’s about our whole life. Skills we practise with a coach can help all of our relationships, from influencing our colleagues in the boardroom to working through difficulties at home. Coaching can help us identify what we need to feel good about ourselves, and how we can find that. This might be by choosing the next step on our career path, or it might be simply by staying put and working better at all aspects of our lives.
About Dr. Mary Anna Wright:
Mary Anna is a coach and communications specialist. Having gained a PhD on cultural change, she moved into journalism and PR. Although aiming to work less and live more, she takes on a select number of coaching clients and is the Vice President for the International Coach Federation in Ireland. Contact Mary Anna on firstname.lastname@example.org or +353 (0)871171972 to find out more about career coaching