Has your career stalled? Are you stuck in a job that doesn’t satisfy you? Are you dealing with redundancy? Are you planning a job or career change and wanting to give yourself the best chance of success? Have you recently moved into a more senior role but feel like a fraud and have lost confidence in yourself? Do you worry you are out-of-touch with current recruitment and selection processes? Are you thinking about going self-employed?
These are just some of the situations where career coaching could help you.
But exactly what is career coaching, and how does it work? With so many different types of coaching springing up all the time, it can be a minefield working out which type of coaching is right for you. This article takes a deep dive into career coaching, explains what it is and how it can help.
What are the key areas for career coaching?
Career coaching is a way of helping someone to overcome a challenge they are facing in their career. Different career coaches have different career challenges that they support with. I am lucky to have had a broad range of experience and training, which means that I can provide coaching to help my clients overcome any career challenge they are experiencing. This support falls broadly into one of three areas (though there are overlaps):
- Helping someone to secure their next job (through practical help in developing their CV, LinkedIn profile, approach to job search and interviewing techniques)
- Helping someone to change career (e.g. identifying what motivates them, working through career ideas and developing a plan of action to take forward)
- Helping someone to feel more confident in their existing job (this often involves them overcoming a particular challenge).
How does it work?
The coaching programme differs a little depending on what sort of issue you have e.g. whether you are having coaching for career change, redundancy or other scenarios. Please check out the ‘Services for Individuals’ page on my website for the full details of each type of coaching offering.
Generally, there will be an introductory session, goal setting and the use of assessment tools where appropriate, to help uncover your strengths, focus, personal brand and life-goals as they relate to work. There are typically 4-6 coaching sessions but there may be more or less if needed.
Coaching takes place either remotely via Zoom (which is similar to Skype but easier to use), at my office in Banstead (Surrey), in Croydon (South London), or Bank (City of London), depending on what is most convenient for you.
How often do coaching sessions take place?
The frequency is driven by the needs of the person being coached. You will need time to digest each session, perhaps working through some exercises, or taking agreed actions. The most popular option is fortnightly, but some people prefer every three or four weeks. I wouldn’t leaver longer than a month between sessions, as the momentum and impact will be lost if too much time passes between sessions.
Coaching sessions can take place weekly if you would like them to. This usually happens if a client has a key deadline or is stressed and keen to make progress quickly.
As a career coach, do you give advice?
Traditional coaching (as defined by the Association for Coaching and the International Coach Federation) involves helping the client to find their own answers to their challenges and avoiding giving advice.
But career coaching is a little different. The career coach will expect to use their experience to guide and advise their client in certain situations. In this aspect, the role is rather more mentoring than traditional coaching. So perhaps the correct title should be career coach/mentor – it’s a bit of a mouthful, but a better description of my approach.
I believe that in career coaching, there are times when it is crucial to give advice. Just as an example, when I help a client to improve their interview technique, it would be madness not to give advice, sharing my experience and knowledge of what will work best with my client. And when helping someone to improve their CV, it’s essential that I advise them on what recruiters expect to see – and not see – in this vital document. I’d be failing my clients if I didn’t deliver this kind of guidance.
But when it comes to the more instinctive issues (for example, helping someone to uncover their true career goals, work out how to deal with a particular situation, decide on whether or not to change career, or build their confidence), it’s more powerful to help a client to solve their own challenge without imposing advice or opinion – which could easily be subjective. This is where the traditional coaching model and an objective, unbiased stance, is the most impactful.
The crucial thing is to give my client the time to talk through what they’re finding challenging. I listen carefully to what they say and then ask them powerful or insightful questions to help them get unstuck and move forward in their thinking. I also have certain activities or worksheets they can complete to help fast-track a client’s thinking or help them navigate through a particular career challenge.
Although I won’t give advice in these circumstances, I may share useful books, articles, talks, podcasts or courses for my client to consider, if I think this will help to expand their understanding of a particular area (for example, management skills, public speaking skills, career change options, leadership skills).
Is everything discussed during a coaching session confidential?
Absolutely, yes. Clients can trust that nothing they share with me will be discussed with anyone else.
The only exception is this: If the coaching has been booked by the company you work for, it may occasionally be helpful for a three-way conversation between the coach, the client, and their company representative or manager. For example, if there is mutual agreement on discussing goals or reviewing the effectiveness of the coaching, this can be included in the process. But this only happens if or when the person being coached is comfortable with this arrangement.
What is Executive coaching?
Executive coaching is a branch of career coaching, addressing the unique concerns faced by senior executives and corporate leaders.
An executive is responsible for positioning their organisation for success and leading both the business and its managers. Executives need to be able to drive and inspire teams, make unpopular decisions, steer the organisation through change and implement strategies to enable the business to thrive and grow.
As a trained Executive coach and mentor, I can support executives, giving them vital thinking space and empowering them to work through these challenges with confidence.
You mentioned your own breadth of experience – how can this help the coaching client?
Career coaches have varied experience and generally they will coach around their specific areas of experience or training. I’m lucky to have a broad spread of experience and training, which means that I can provide coaching to help my clients overcome virtually any career challenge.
My former career was in HR and Recruitment. That means I’m familiar with many of the challenges people can face when trying to make career changes or deal with redundancy. I also have a practical understanding of the way recruitment works today, and what candidates can face when it comes to the application, selection and interviewing process.