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Building Blocks For Life

By Jackie Lee Agnew

Career Coaching: 9 Key Things I Tell Clients Looking for a New Career!

I am often asked how to coach people to find a new career. New career coaching is tough as there are rarely quick fixes and easy answers. But if I can manage the expectations of my clients, I usually get there in the end. Patience and dedication on behalf of both the coach and client is needed, and often a little client re-education too…

Career coaching to help someone find a new vocation can feel daunting, especially in these times of “Live your Passion!” when people’s expectations are so high.

There are two big issues I commonly see with clients who want new career coaching:

  • They want to find a *new* career and think that a few coaching sessions will ‘deliver’ them their ‘ideal’ job. Hey presto!
  • People are unhappy in their lives, and think that a *new* and meaningful job or career will ‘fix’ how they feel.

…and these are the 9 Key Things I tell my New Career Coaching Clients:

  1. It’s going to take TIME, effort and a lot of soul-searching! They may be lucky and find the right career/job in one session, but it’s unlikely. First there will be hard work. There will be coaching sessions, exploratory homework and actions like online research, informational interviews and volunteering. They need to identify basic job requirements like hours and flexibility, the type of people they want to work with, pay levels, etc. And there will also be self-work – to explore past dreams and passions, strengths and weaknesses, career values, what they will and won’t accept in their work, to identify skills they want to use and develop, the type of culture they want to work in and more.
  2. Look within. The ‘Perfect’ job is not magically going to make them feel better if they are fundamentally dissatisfied with their life. We’ll also work to discover who they really are and what they want from life. Because, as we all know, even if the ‘perfect’ job or career pays well, uses their gifts, is 5 minutes from home, gives them 6 weeks off a year and helps people – it’s not going to ‘fix’ their unhappiness (although it may mask the underlying problems for a while).
  3. Step up. Many people need to stay in their current job/career WHILE looking for new opportunities. So they’ll need to take responsibility for their happiness in their current work. This may mean standing up to a boss or co-worker, asking for flexible hours, delegating tasks they don’t enjoy, asking for help, moving departments and/or changing their attitude.
  4. Be prepared for nay-sayers. As they explore new avenues and try new things, people will feel threatened or be afraid for them. They’ll need to protect themselves against nay-saying inner gremlins, friends, colleagues or family. They’ll need to develop inner strength to follow the path no matter what others think. The bigger the change, the harder this will be.
  5. Find meaning in LIFE not work. We’ll also look for meaning OUTSIDE of work – which might mean taking up hobbies, exploring passions, taking a course, travelling, volunteering or just having fun in general. I had one a client who decided to stay in a job they previously despised. But only after they asked for a pay-raise, shed some tasks they hated, created self-time apart from the family and started a fun hobby on the side which helped local children. Once they created meaning in LIFE, they didn’t need their job to give them meaning any more.
  6. Intuition is essential. If they knew the answer (or if it was easy) they would have figured it out by now. They will need to learn to tap into, trust and follow their gut-feelings.
  7. Keep an open mind about the solution or outcome. Sometimes holding out for the perfect job that meets every last requirement is the right thing to do. But finding happiness at work is often simpler than we think. We need to feel valued, that we belong, to like our co-workers, to have the right amount of flexibility (work-life balance) and we need to be paid enough to live comfortably. When we lower our expectations about what work is supposed to provide (meaning, fulfilment, self-worth) and just look to get paid, enjoy ourselves and feel useful – there are many more possibilities out there.
  8. Be alert for magic and synchronicity! Coaches can ask questions and help them identify all the criteria and requirements for a perfect job – but it won’t make the perfect job or career materialise. Sometimes there needs to be a little magic or synchronicity too. Like the client whose car broke down, was late for their appraisal, got chatting to someone at the bus-stop – who just happened to have the perfect job for them.
  9. Taking care of themselves has never been more important. When embarking on new career coaching, work-life balance is incredibly important. They will need to make time for themselves –  to be alone, to ponder – and they’ll also need energy to have ideas and fight their gremlins.

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