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Preparing to Succeed
When you plan to climb Mt. Everest, you need to prepare for the challenge. Every step up the mountain depends on how well you planned ahead of time. If you hope to reach the top of the career ladder, you need to be just as prepared for the trip. For either ascent, though, it helps to have a knowledgeable guide. For Mt. Everest, you probably want a Sherpa, or a climbing expert. When you prepare for your career, it’s good to get a career coach.
Skill and Foresight
- The value of a good career coach
- Methods of coaching
- Finding a great coach
Investing in your future
Just as with any other form of professional education, career coaching is money invested, rather than simply money spent. You will be making use of the skills a career counselor can provide to help you establish goals; develop the organization and strategy to accomplish those goals, and the expertise in self-discipline, presentation, and productivity to put you in the fast lane.
A career coach is usually a licensed or certified position, with training in organizational skills, presentation skills, career identification, and more. Most will have at least some training in specific areas of behavioral modification techniques. Some may add in such skills as hypnotherapy, to help strengthen resolve, commitment and confidence. All will have some understanding of the expectations of the job market, and can help you review all elements of your professional self-packaging.
Comparatively few coaches are professional psychiatrists or psychologists. This level of coaching is goal oriented, practical, applied counseling. Expect a coach to refer you to counseling that is more extensive if time makes it clear that the primary road blocks preventing you from career success have less to do with your resume or your chosen goals, and more to do with unresolved life-conflicts or buried traumas. This isn’t an unprofessional attempt to evade responsibility: it’s a professional skill in recognizing a new area you need to work on, and finding an appropriate provider to carry you further along your way.
Methods of coaching
Most coaching is based on two basic principles: direct observation and correction, and behavior modification. The first applies to basic matters of design, presentation, and appearance. The second is more likely to focus on behaviors that affect how you function in relation to work related activities.
Direct observation and correction can be applied to clothing choices, resume and portfolio design, the writing of cover letters and pitches, and similar matters with a strong skill or design element. Behavior modification is likely to be applied to three areas: training yourself how to think about work and approach work, training in how to function in the work place, and training in how to present yourself during interviews, meetings, and other high-stress, high-focus professional interactions. In all of these situations, the intention is to make positive, proactive thoughts and calm, polished and admirable behavior automatic.
Getting help in finding a great coach
Finding a good, professional coach with knowledge about your career environment and the skill and background to help you present yourself with polish and poise isn’t easy. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your odds. Among the best is to make use of a counseling referral agency. Agencies specialize in matching clients to skilled, respected, appropriate counselors and coaches in a wide realm of areas. With the professional training and the connections to offer you a range of superb pros from the very start, an agency can save you time, money, and disappointment.