Too many people leave their lives – especially careers – to chance. A vast majority of employees feel stuck and helpless in a job that doesn’t motivate them.
I see this often as a life coach that specializes in career transitions. Bright kids and mid-career professionals approach me wanting to change jobs, tweak resumes, impress at interviews, and on. Many are desperate for change, but don’t know where to start. Most of them never worked with coaches previously, and simply hope for good results.
Good coaches work on tactics. The great ones first dig into a client’s psyche, helping to connect the person to him- or herself again.
Before a life coach can help a client with his job search or life problem, it’s imperative to diagnose the depth and breadth of issues in the mix. What to the client may seem a simple thing to fix, like resume mistakes or fear of failure, is quite often symptomatic of a host of baggage from the childhood, work, and life experience.
As such, there is much more to coaching than just listening and giving advice. The transformation takes A LOT of work and shepherding through pitfalls. Quite often, clients coming in are NOT aware that their career success depends a great deal on the work they do inside their head – not just their daily grind, their boss, or schooling or experience.
Idealists believe that good performance on its own will merit raises, better titles and so on. The cynics say that politics is everything, or superficial things like clothes and makeup win the day. The truth is more complex, yet certain trends emerge.
Perception vs. Reality in the Working World
The two-faced working world on the one hand can seem to value simple good performance above all. Yet, we all know, there are unspoken rules, conventions, areas of gray, red lines, bad days, irrational behavior, and business cycles.
There is much more to getting your dream job than simply dressing well, doing your research, or arriving early. The only way to know what is behind the Wizard’s curtain is to ask the Wizard.
Hence, a life coach who has hired and done HR can help a client wade through what they need to say and do throughout the process with the different actors. Psychology and language can quite often trump the right experience and schooling.
A PC world deficient in attention means that we are selling images, perceptions every day, all day, four seconds at a time. To get a chance, you must convey exactly the right message to the proper audience.
Unwinding all the baggage takes great patience, plus a robust system and the work to follow through until the end. Before the tactics help, it is important to determine where the person holds in life, how close – or far – he is from doing life’s best work, FOR him.
When mission, values, outcomes all align between the client and his list of companies, then magic starts to happen.
Here are the things a top career and/or life coach can help you do:
1) Reconnect with your life mission and values, identify your natural role in any organization or situation, plus the outcomes you enjoy delivering to customers.
Before you can tell a convincing story about your career, you must convince yourself of the inherent value of your particular personality traits, interests, talents and experiences.
2) Diagnose the negative scripts, bad career habits, and other psychic baggage.
These are holding you back from achieving your potential. An experienced life coach can help you get rid of them eventually. Tough love, frank feedback, and a sense of perspective and balance are important for progress to materialize.
3) Diagnose your body language carefully in a conversation.
This is so that you can tangibly improve how others perceive you. A great life coach who really cares may give you acting and dress-up exercises to do in order to overcome any self-esteem, body image, and stereotyping issues. Body language and ready stereotypes may be the most overlooked reasons for why brilliant people often lose out to lesser candidates for dream jobs.
4) Formulate and demonstrate your clear and concise value proposition (your professional brand).
These involve the specific problems you can solve, the specific metrics to demonstrate your achievements, and a record of creating tangible outcomes (better health, greater wealth, delivering delight, making processes cheaper/better/faster, etc.). The value you bring must ALWAYS greatly exceed the cost of hiring you.
5) Tell your professional and personal story in an authentic and relevant way.
This should be customized for the particular audience you’re engaging for a job, business deal, or partnership. Each audience is different and you must adjust accordingly to be effective.
6) Always speak the language of opportunity.
Always think of the win-win scenario anytime you engage someone in a conversation, whether in an interview, negotiation or a networking event – or even when chatting with a stranger. Attitude is the first thing people notice. Perception is inevitably reality.
7) Pinpoint the industry(-ies), list of dream companies and specific title(s) that fit with your preferred role, outcomes, life mission and values.
8) Identify the pain points each company (and/or team) in your list is having.
The pain points should be something with which you can instantly help, based on your problem-solving experience and passion.
9) Write effective pain letters to decision makers at your ideal companies.
This is to show your genuine passion for their products or services, offering your help to with their biggest pain points and demonstrating your value proposition concisely. “Tell me why you love my crazy idea and how you can help me succeed in my mission as an entrepreneur or team leader.”
10) Prepare you supremely well by doing a mock interview and giving you instant, unvarnished feedback.
It could be advice on body language, appearance, preparation for both behavioral and standard questions. Plus, a great life coach will go through with you on the quality of your actual answers and questions asked throughout the interview, so you can improve in time to ace the real thing.
11) Help you negotiate a higher salary, title and/or benefits with a detailed waterfall that prepares you to ask for the next most important thing for you if your #1 option isn’t possible.
It’s mostly a science, with a bit of art. Just remember that failing to negotiate a $10K raise in your first job can mean as much as $500K lost throughout your career.
12) Help you choose from among offers.
These could be based on team dynamic and fit, prior success, interview quality, company’s fiscal health, market share, growth and dynamics, alignment with your natural role/outcomes/mission/values, your gut feeling, as well as other factors of importance to you. All offers are NOT created equal.
13) Follow-up with you once in your new role.
This is to ensure a smooth transition, whether through New Manager training, help with networking, industry-specific insights, etc. Getting your dream job is great, but failing to get off to a solid start may quickly turn it into a nightmare.
Based on my clients’ progress through this checklist, I have seen the massive difference in the way they see themselves, the story that they tell at interviews, their confidence and preparation, focus – and success.
Even the ones that come to me when unemployed and desperate have left their baggage at the door and got across their message in the proper way. This is the most rewarding outcome for a life coach.