The vast majority of my career coaching involves clients who contact me while they’re feeling perplexed about their personal circumstances. About 70 percent of them have been out of work for some time, and the rest only recently became jobless. Some of them are desperate to make a change because of a difficult boss or too much pressure on the job. Can you identify with this? All of these people have one thing in common: confusion over how to go about making it happen. Most of them are adjusting their résumés but deploying the same techniques that got them jobs in the past. However, that doesn’t work in today’s extreme job market. Many ask for advice from well-meaning friends. Unfortunately, they’re only friends desiring to help but not professionals with expertise.
Regrettably, even career coaches don’t have all of the desired solutions, but they know how to go about finding them. After years of experience and dozens of clients, I became able to put together a straightforward plan that appears to be working. The material that needs to be covered during coaching sessions is vast. In addition to that, I found out from experience that it takes a minimum of three to five hours of mock interviewing for a client to get sufficient practice and become proficient at interviewing. It’s an absolute necessity to be capable of showing the hiring manager that you have not only the knowledge but also the confidence to do the job well. After all, what hiring manager sets out to hire someone who appears to be lacking confidence?
Typically, I meet with a client five times. Each session is at least two hours long, and the second hour of each is devoted to practicing mock interviews. The first session is dedicated to agreeing on career plan objectives, creating a strategy, and defining target jobs in the right salary range, geography, industry, and sector. The second session focuses on the résumé. The objective here is to make it billboardlike attractive. The résumé has to have eye appeal, contain the right keywords, and show that the candidate will deliver. By now the client possesses the right tools.
The third session focuses on job search. Together we work not only on networking techniques but also on making sure the techniques are effective and not a waste of time. At this point, we are also practicing how to overcome liabilities, and we’re developing tools to track and measure job search productivity. The fourth session is all about communication and projecting the right image verbally—both in writing and over the Internet. We wrap up the process by practicing mock negotiation techniques, acquiring the tools for working with recruiters, and learning to uncover the hidden job market.
This is career coaching in a nutshell. An actual career coaching program is rigorous and systematic and requires persistence and a lot of hard work. Given a little time, in most cases it works.
by Alex Freund