With Valentine’s Day coming up Thursday, this year some clients have emailed to ask, “I got a lot out of working with you. My partner/spouse/significant other is having career issues and I’d like to give them a gift certificate for career consulting with you.”
My first thought was, “Some of those partners are really lucky.”
And my second was, “Great idea! But before you sign them up …”
Here are a few points to consider, whether you’re gifting your significant other, friend, family member or anyone:
Does he really want to solve his or her problem? If they’re not motivated, they won’t benefit from any resources.
Does she respond positively to the idea of consulting or coaching? Even if you want to create a surprise gift, test the waters.
Do you share a strong value system that will affect what kind o consulting will make the most sense? For instance, some people want to work with consultants who share religious or spiritual values. Others want highly educated left-brained, scientific consulting.
Setting it up
The logistics are pretty simple, at least with me. You pay for a session (usually a Career Strategy Session) or two. I can create a gift certificate or you can make one.
Then, after you’ve enjoyed some romantic wine and cake in front of a fireside … well, okay, relationship consulting is out of my league.
If you’re interested, visit http://www.budurlcom/careersession
Even if you hate your job, most people would rather leave on their own terms. But let’s take a realistic look at what’s going on here. Maybe there’s some writing on the wall, but what does it really say?
(1) Your boss is probably looking for a way NOT to fire you. The company has invested in hiring and training you. If you’re in a big company, your boss’s reputation suffers if she’s known as someone who can’t keep good people. Finally, your department’s budget may allow keeping current employees but not hiring anyone new. If you leave, somebody else has to do your work.
(2) Hang in there unless your physical or mental health gets threatened. (That’s beyond my scope.) Once you leave voluntarily, you may lose claims to file for unemployment and severance. I’m not a lawyer. I cannot give legal advice. But from anecdotal evidence I’ve seen people file unemployment claims and win. Your employer probably doesn’t want to go there.
(3) Work on your style. Are you communicating confidence, verbally and non-verbally? The best way is to follow the maxim, “Be brief and be gone.”
When you answer a question, practice beginning with confidence. Starting with the word “Well …” communicates nervousness or uncertainty.
When your boss says, “You should have known not to do X,” don’t get into a discussion. Just say something like, “You are right. And now I would like to ask you a question about doing X .. ”
If you’ve made a genuine mistake, just say, “You’re right. I’ve set up a process to prevent future re-occurrences.” And stop.
(4) Do some reality testing. How is the company doing financially? Where does your boss stand in the formal and informal hierarchy? If your company is more secretive than the Kremlin in the Cold War, your organization is one big danger signal! No need to panic but consider your options.
(5) When you believe you’re interpreting the signals correctly, reframe your priorities. Now it’s time to focus on what you can do to get to your next job. This is not the time to offer extra work or invest time in anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to keep your job. Don’t give your company cause to terminate your employment, but don’t toss in extras either.
If you’re seriously wondering how to interpret the signals of your own job, you might need a second opinion. Check out http://budurl.com/careersession
Marcia wasn’t sure of what steps to take. She wanted to move fast.
“I know exactly what steps to take,” she said. “First, I need to identify my strengths. Then I need to find some job titles that match my strength. Then I write a resume and send out copies. Right?”
Well, forty year ago, when the Parachute book was first published, this approach was hailed as new, revolutionary and fool-proof. No research had been conducted. Richard Bolles drew on his experience, which made sense back then.
The Parachute book made two great contributions. Many people who read this book had never asked themselves, “Do I like my job?” They were even less inclined to go one step further to ask, “Why? What DO I want?”
Today’s career consultants can draw on published research about career change. They know that the parachute metaphor refers to making a smooth landing after you’ve been a passenger.
Today you don’t look fora parachute. You might have several landings in a lifetime or even a few years. Rather than think of yourself as a passenger in someone else’s plane, think of hang gliding. You are active, not passive. And you’re going to do this again and again.
We know today that most career change involves an element of serendipity. The shortest distance between you and your next career probably will not be a straight line.
Job titles, for instance, are extremely misleading. Talk to five companies with “systems analyst” jobs and you could find five different job descriptions.
Your strengths can be hard to pin down. It’s important to identify your skills but even more important to recognize the culture and unwritten rules of potential new careers and new employers. Forget those navel-gazing “what do you love” exercises (and don’t even ask me about tests). Focus instead on telling your career story.
If you target a particular job, you will need to match your skills and your style to the requirements of the job. Recently one of my friends “Harry” beat out over 100 other applicant to win a highly desirable position. Some of his competitors were at least his equal in skills. Harry admitted, “I have no experience in this particular arena.”
Yet Harry demonstrated motivation, attitude and people skills. He presented his background to show that he had met the requirements in a different environment. And he came across as a super-nice guy, which he is.
By the time the interviews were over, everybody was rooting for Harry to get the job.
Resumes have become more fluid. You will need to post your profile on social media – and you can change your profile easily if you don’t get responses you need.
You don’t need to wait till you’ve identified your ideal job to put the finishing touches on your resume. While working on your resume, you will become more aware of your strengths. If you’re partnering with a friend or consultant, don’t be surprised if you get suggestions about new directions for your career.
Information is key to your career change. What information will you need? How will you get it? How will you modify your plan based on this information?
Career coaching shouldn’t provide you with cookie cutter solutions. What you need is a plan that is unique to you.
Most important, remember that career change is messy. Career achievement often will be linear. In fact, corporate careers often resemble NFL football: you get rewarded for being in the right place and the right time and doing your officially assigned job. Career change is more like playground basketball: you get rewarded for figuring out the unwritten rules and being open to whatever opportunities are presented.
You can learn more from my home study course:
Or work with me one-to-one:
Let’s face it: the days of pro bono mentoring are pretty much gone, especially if you want to be mentored by someone who’s self-employed.
Theoretically a mentor is someone who’s walked the path where you’d like to go. However, this type of help has limited value in many business settings for three reasons.
First – things change so fast your mentor’s experience probably won’t be relevant. In fact, you may have trouble finding a mentor who’s gone before you, simply because you’re blazing a trail.
Second – many people owe their success to factors that are just not available to their mentees, at least not today. Someone says, “I started doing X and then people just came and asked for more …” There’s no way to replicate that type of success
Third – some people are better at success than coaching others to success, and vice versa. Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt coached their teams to championships in women’s NCAA hoops, yet neither coach set the world on fire as a player.
You’ll find many professional advisors use “mentoring” and “coaching” interchangeably. Technically counseling refers to services by a trained and usually licensed professional. Career counseling degrees typically are offered in university departments associated with pychology and counseling.
Therefore, a counselor might be able to help you see your career within the perspective of your life. He might also be able to help if you’ve got psychological blocks, such as clinical anxiety or depression. On the other hand, I’ve found that many clinically oriented professionals are less aware of the way careers and corporations really operate – the unwritten rules and insider info.
Bottom line: I recommend that you avoid worrying about titles. Visit the website of anyone you might consider hiring for career advice. Do you share their values? Do you get a sense they know the way the career world works? Do they take an approach you can respect?
In my experience, free “get-acquainted” calls are not especially helpful. I’ve seen coaches change their style, approach and advice 180 degrees after a free session. Therefore I encourage you to ask for a paid sample session. You should get solid help and a sense of the quality of the coach’s advice – not a series of questions followed by a sales pitch. Often you can negotiate to get some or all of the cost of this session applied to a longer- term coaching program if you choose to move forward quickly.
My own first session (which is usually more than enough for many people – saving them an investment in weeks and months) is http://budurl.com/careersession
Career counseling used to be straightforward. You hired a counselor who administered tests, asked some questions and guided you to a dream career. Today’s job search model calls for hiring a coach. And you’ll find thousands to choose from. Here are some guidelines to make your selection.
Karen hired a “mentor” coach to help her business grow. She spent hours working on her website. She played with orange, green, and blue text in helvetica, geneva and garamond type faces. She added pictures. She took away pictures.
Karen’s coach cheered: “You’re doing great!” On a slow week, the coach said, “Clear clutter and learn to dance.”
After three months, Karen had a big coaching bill, a multicolored website, an empty house and a sad little business.
Every coach works with a model, or template, of human nature that explains what, why and how they coach. Karen’s coach believed people will unblock their businesses when they clear clutter and learn to move their bodies freely. It works for many people.
However, Karen needed information. A corporate manager turned entrepreneur, she needed a business-savvy coach who could help her transform minefields into meadows.
Karen hadn’t asked her coach, “What do you think I need?” And she hadn’t asked herself, “What do I need most right now?”
What is a model?
We work with models of human nature every day. For instance, Western medicine treats the body as a machine to be repaired; Chinese medicine believes sickness is caused by imbalance that can be corrected by herbs and diet.
Every model has limits. If you break your leg, the Western model makes most sense; if you suffer from insomnia, you might favor the Chinese model.
Which model do you need?
John’s business is hitting a rough patch.
Coach X says, “Clear your life of energy-draining relationships.”
Coach Y says, “I will teach you mental techniques to attract new business.”
Coach Z says, “Maybe your business does not reflect your life purpose.”
Coach Q offers, “I will teach you networking and sales techniques.”
Only John knows what he needs. If your website needs an overhaul, you can clear clutter till your house is bare and nothing will happen. But if everyday hassles are draining your energies, you can’t focus clearly on the website.
By the book
Let’s compare four best-selling books. Cheryl Richardson’s Take Time for Your Life exemplifies the “life space” model: people know what they want and how to get there; they grow by self-care and personal empowerment. Choose Coach X.
Lynn Grabhorn’s Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting, suggests that people will achieve goals when they focus clearly on what they want. Her techniques can help people change their thinking and feeling styles. Choose Coach Y.
Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Own True North, argues that finding your essential self will bring fulfillment. Choose Coach Z.
Finally, a business book like Michael Gerber’s E-Myth series or Jay Levinson’s Guerilla Marketing will assume you are perfectly capable of applying sound sales techniques once you learn what they are. Yes — that’s Coach Q.
The key is to be very clear on what you want and to decode what the coach offers before you commit to long-term relationships. Karen got Coach X when she needed Coach Q.
Read what the coach has written. Ask if you can buy an hour or two of consultation before committing to a longer time frame. Ask directly, “What types of people do you believe you can help — and why?”
You don’t have to be friends with your coach. You don’t have to eat lunch together or trade birthday gifts. But the coach’s model of growth and change has to fit who you are.
You may not need a coach. You may need a mentor or you may need to learn to listen to your own intuition.
Ask yourself: How did you learn and grow during previous transitions? Have you benefited from paid support: therapy, groups, or classes? Or did you learn by reading, introspecting, journaling or talking informally with a friend?
Know what you need, both now and over a lifetime. Paying a coach may be the best investment you can make right now — or may be a waste of time and money. They key is to understand your own growth patterns so you can identify the most effective and enjoyable way to reach your dreams.
This article is based on Teach Your Intuition to Send You a Telegram, Not a Post Card: Using Intuition for Business and Career Decisions. Click here to learn more.