A few months ago, I found myself in a new job that I knew wasn’t the right fit. Feeling like I was at a crossroads, I decided to reach out to a career coach for an exploratory meeting. After our initial meeting, I knew she could help me work through various career-based thoughts and decisions. Looking back, having an unbiased opinion and point of view was invaluable. After working together for five months, I learned a great deal about myself and my career goals. With an impending career transition on the horizon, my time (and money) spent with a career coach was one of the best investments I could have made at this point in my life. After working with a career coach for five months, I learned a great deal. Here are a few of my biggest takeaways.
Whether it’s positive or negative, feedback is always meant to help.
When working with a career coach, you will likely receive feedback you’re not expecting. Feedback (whether solicited or not) is common in the workplace. Receiving positive and negative feedback well is a talent we all need to sharpen. Be open to feedback, and listen to what your career coach is actually telling you; ask for clarification if necessary. Your time together should be focused on working through situations and concerns; clarity will help continue these conversations.
While exploring various professions, my career coach and I discussed the topic of selling. I’ve always been drawn to more creative fields, but sales roles kept coming up in our meetings. Through feedback from my career coach, I was able to come to the conclusion that I am not drawn to sales for a reason — and that’s okay! I’m currently working in marketing, which does require I work with a sales team, but I am not the one out making the sales pitches. I’m facilitating them. Without this feedback from my career coach, I may have continued to wonder if I could do well in a sales role. And while I may eventually transition into a sales role, it was not the right move for me during this stage of life. Ultimately, it was important for me to remember that my time with my career coach was meant to be productive; which meant I had to be receptive to feedback of all types.
Homework should continue into your career.
The idea of “homework” may give you flashbacks to your high school days, but it really shouldn’t. When my career coach assigned tasks to complete, from something as simple as reaching out to a local contact or constructing a loathe/like/love task list, I made sure I devoted the right time and attention to them — these assignments were meant to help! By completing weekly assignments, I was able to look deeper into myself and self-reflect. When I finished the homework each week, it informed our next meeting, as it provided a starting point for our discussions.
Interested in learning more about a certain field? Reach out to a local professional and request a meeting. Looking to learn a new skill? Research if there are any classes nearby or learn online. There are so many resources available — you just need to start.
One of the most beneficial assignments I was given was to reach out to professionals working in fields I was interested in pursuing. I’ve always loved traveling, and have thrown around the idea of becoming a travel agent for years. My career coach helped me identify a few people established in the field to schedule coffee meetings with. We worked together to build a list of topics I wanted to cover, which helped me pitch my meeting requests, and created a natural flow to the conversations I eventually had.
Throughout my time with my career coach, I explored a variety of possible career changes. Hearing from professionals working in each field helped me hone in on exactly what I did and did not want to do in my next role. My time with a career coach helped me take action; she gave me the push I needed to schedule meetings and network with others.
Be open and honest with yourself… and your career coach.
If you’re working with a career coach, you won’t get very far unless you’re open and honest. The more information your coach knows, the better (for both of you). If you’re not ready to be completely honest, you may not be ready to work with a career coach. How do you know if you’re ready to be honest with others? Check in with yourself first; how honest are you being regarding your feelings about your job and/or current situation? Think about your daily conversations with friends and family — how transparent about your situation are you with them? This might be a good indicator of your readiness to be honest with a professional career coach. I did find it easier to be transparent with a career coach since there were no preconceived notions or judgments. Friends and family can be great sounding boards, but having an unbiased opinion provided a sense of security.
The path to job satisfaction is long and winding. A career coach can help you navigate the intricacies of your career while providing a neutral sounding board throughout your time together. Each career coach works differently, so be sure to find one that matches your personality. Even though our professional time together has officially ended, I still consider my career coach a friend. I definitely miss our weekly sessions together — they felt more like coffee with a friend rather than a task I had to prepare for weekly!