As a career consultant, I’m on the lookout for books to recommend to my clients, especially those faced with unexpected job loss. Career Comeback passes the test.
One preliminary note: The cover refers to failed business ventures, but this topic does not appear to be covered. Publishers, not authors, usually write cover copy, so we can’t fault Richardson. I believe you’d have to make major adaptations to these 8 steps if your business goes south.
The most valuable information comes in the first half of the book: dealing with being fired and job loss. I agree with just about everything Richardson says. He’s one of the few authors to recommend sitting down with a financial planner right after you talk to your family. His advice on dealing with an employer after being fired is very sound. And many will find the exercises useful: Review what went wrong — in and out of your control.
So mostly I like Steps 1-4 of Richardson’s 8-step program.
Step 5 (“Find out what matters to you”) is a good start, but I think Richardson underestimates the degree to which we identify with our professions. “You’re still the same person” strikes me as one of those irritating, useless bromides. Many of us will be branded as an “ex” for a long time and will have difficulty losing that identity, no matter how hard we try. And the experience of losing a career we love can change us in deep ways.
“One role is temporarily diminished while another moves into its place…” won’t help those who identify strongly with a profession. And your other roles will be affected by job loss. Friends view you differently. You may not be able to afford the activities you enjoyed with your friends and family. Some arts organizations actually encourage high-level volunteers to leave when they no longer hold jobs.
Steps 6 and 7 – “Find your next move” and “Find your next job” — are necessarily oversimplified because they’re single chapters on topics deserving a whole book. “Go back to an old job” is possible but not likely, and you’ll be in a one-down position. And downshifting to a smaller company probably won’t hurt your career – but it might.
I disagree most strongly with sections on testing. If you’re unemployed and money is tight, skip the tests. At mid-career, they’ll almost always show you’re best qualified for the job you have. And most career tests are so unreliable they shouldn’t be used for guidance.
The section on hiring coaches and counselors needs to be expanded. Many “career coaches” have little experience with careers, except their own. Some offer expertise; others have “training” in asking questions and helping you “find the answers within you.” And you have to decide if you agree with value systems like “law of attraction.”
The fee range quoted for coaches and counselors is low. I think you should expect to pay a minimum of $125 – $250 for a single session, which may or may not include follow-ups and advance reading of materials. I do know of some coaches and counselors who offer lower fees and frankly, you get what you pay for. Packages cost less and (as the author correctly says) are more helpful.
And to choose a consultant, I recommend reviewing his or her website, brochures and other writing. Invest a few bucks in an e-book before signing up. Coaching organizations do not “verify skills.” I once tried to report an “accredited” coach’s unethical conduct. Both coaching school and ICF refused to get involved, let alone take the coach’s name off their “recommended” lists.
Step 8, “back on track,” is quite good, especially sections on buyer’s remorse and admitting you made a mistake. I would add that a return to work, following a long break or layoff, could be the perfect time to start working with a career coach. Learn from experience and make a good first start. I don’t think we ever make a “complete comeback.” We simply make progress. And, as I noted earlier, we’re different.
Despite these quibbles, I’d recommend this book to clients and website visitors who need to go from Setback to Comeback. You could do a lot worse.