As an academic coach and Higher Education professional, most of my career is centered on advising students on how to become successful college graduates. In workshops and talks, I always include help-seeking as one of the skills students need to develop. I would impress upon them to find a mentor, ask questions, secure a tutor, or utilize office hours.
While it was easy for me to say this to students, it wasn’t easy taking my own advice. You see, I am officially on the job market for my next career opportunity. And, just like most students, I felt like I can do it on my own. Now, I’ve taken a few workshops, read a few books here and there; so, I wasn’t job hunting blindly. HOWEVER, after 4 months of a frustration, increasing doubt, decreasing confidence, and unfruitful searches, I decided it was time for a change. I decided to FINALLY take my own advice and seek individual counsel from someone. Yes, this coach decided to get a coach.
Luckily, I didn’t have to search high and low for one. I met Ron Nash during a Higher Ed symposium in early 2017. He gave an impressive talk to administrators on LinkedIn and the benefits it can offer Higher Ed institutions. Securing him as a career coach didn’t cross my mind then. I actually stashed his name more so as a resource for my students. Fast forward to nearly a year later, I was struggling to re-energize my LinkedIn to improve my job search efforts. I remembered Ron, checked out his website and decided to connect with him on his turf, LinkedIn. I requested assistance with my LinkedIn profile, but in truth I needed help with a whole lot more. After our initial consultation, I decided to book multiple coaching sessions. While we worked on the obvious things such as my LinkedIn page, description of my experience, networking and interview techniques, there were several intangible outcomes from our sessions.
Increased Accountability and External Motivation
I will honestly admit that I was not the best job seeker. I was actively searching and applying for jobs, but there was no passion or motivation underlying my actions. My lack of enthusiasm for pursuing a new career opportunity probably mirrors other millennials. I was tired of the pseudo-searches, the discouraging “seasoned professional” descriptions, and lack of courtesy updates in the search process. I was just tired and frustrated. I knew I needed a job, and I knew I need to do more to get one, but I didn’t have the energy nor the motivation required to tap into the hidden job market. Ron understood my frustrations and helped me to put it in context. He helped me get passed my emotions so that I can regain focus on my career ambitions. His assignments helped me to rededicate myself to the search process. When I had regressed and become stagnate after a few months, he helped me to figure out the root cause and encouraged me to do the work and get back into the game. A career coach helped me to become more disciplined and more optimistic about my professional future.
After my last job experience and set-backs in my job search, my confidence was shattered. At times, I questioned if I had any talents or skills at all. I no longer believed I was unique or that I truly had something to offer to any employer. I was ashamed of my age. I beat myself up over my career and educational choices. I was a complete mess when I started with my coach. However, by the time I completed my sessions, I was more confident overall. I can’t pin point specific conversations or activities, but I think just having someone provide positive objectivity and constructive feedback helped. Without blowing smoke, Ron validated my skills, my experiences, and my talents. As an introvert and overthinker, he helped me get over my fear of networking. While I am still a work in progress, I am not nearly as hesitant to connect with someone new in effort to expand my professional network.
Forced Reflection and Self-Discovery
Career coaching bought on a urgent need to reflect on my personal and career ambitions. Through several conversations and activities, I had had to be honest with myself about what I really wanted in my life. Before coaching, I was really focused on what I should do based on traditional paths, but I realized that following traditions or pre-made paths was the source of my frustrations. Coaching also helped me think about what I bring to the table in a whole new way. I was able to demonstrate my worth by teasing out valuable skills, competencies that was either non-existent in my resume or buried beneath mundane descriptions. Discovering and identifying my strengths, gave me the boost of confidence I needed to improve my performance in interviews.
When you are an unemployed job-seeker, you are normally on a budget and trying to spend money on only what is necessary. Coaching services may seem like a luxury or something for those who may have a job or trying to move up the corporate ladder. However, expenditures for coaching services is a necessity, especially when you are unemployed. From my experience, a career coach has had a profound impact on my personal morale and professional outlook. I now have less anxiety about the job market, as I now have the tools and strategies to secure the right employment opportunity for me. The financial sacrifice was well worth it. Securing a career coach was a great professional investment.