Need A Job Search Coach?

MazeAmbitious professionals in transition can benefit tremendously from a close working relationship with a well qualified job search coach.  Working with an experienced and proven job search coach can mean the difference between securing a role in which you thrive and grow or wasting years in a lackluster job going nowhere.

A relationship with a coach can be one of your most valued.

Key qualifications to look for when engaging a career coach:

Experience across industries.

While differences between public and private sector, government, and academic jobs are obvious, a savvy job search coach needs to understand the business dynamics and hiring patterns with a wide range of organizations in a multitude of markets.  This knowledge is very valuable for job hunters who want to take their careers across industry lines.

The non-profit business world has distinct characteristics. For example, the word development has very different meanings in health sciences, fundraising, and commercial real estate. Looking for work in the international arena is different than looking for work near home.

Experience up and down the org chart.

There are huge differences in the way first level managers in manufacturing need to go about a job search in comparison to senior executives in the same field. Job hunting needs vary from the R&D side of a high tech company to the operations, financial, marketing, IT, and sales sides of the business. People with technical backgrounds need to substantiate their technical accomplishments, while senior leaders must share information on ways they develop competitive distinction, use capital, and drive growth.

There is a difference between the needs of an early career financial analyst and a veteran CFO. CEOs have a unique set of needs that vary greatly from those of entrepreneurs – even though both may have common acquaintances in private equity and venture capital communities.

In-depth understanding of today’s job market and its technology.Career Plan

Job search, recruiting, and hiring processes have changed. Resumes and Linkedin profiles must be optimized using key words in order for software filters to find people with certain skills and experience. A career plan must be developed.

The use of smart phones and tablets accessing the web, e-mail, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter add tremendous exposure to new opportunities and a growing set of challenges for job seekers. Recruiters and many companies use sophisticated screening programs to read resumes. The invisible penalty for omitting a few key words can amount to being ignored.

Knowledge of and access to premier jobs.

Some of the best jobs are never announced. A good job search coach knows how the hidden job market works – and he must know the types of people (and often the very people) candidates need to meet to learn about great jobs.  The best jobs are pursued through side doors. What lies between a qualified candidate and a great new job are great people – and candidates need to get out and meet them. Third party influence is critical – and coaches must help candidates find it and create it.

Ability to inspire and challenge clients of all ages – and hold them accountable.

Too many professionals in transition compromise on what they are going after based largely on the lack of job hunting skills obtained over the years. They should not let their success (holding a good job for several years) grossly interfere with what they are truly qualified to go after.

An experienced job search coach knows what talented professionals need to work on to refresh and align their career story with the needs of various organizations. The job search coach must enhance the ways one’s story is shared in writing and verbally. Professionals of different generations must get away with being who they really are. The techniques and methods will vary based on age group and, in some cases, cultural norms.

There is no better time for an accomplished professional to be proud, articulate, and a wee bit bold than when they are in transition. Confident and assertive professionals get interviews that lead to great jobs.

Facilitators of self awareness, goals planning, and well aimed career direction.

The internal gyro that keeps a hard working professional balanced can get jarred when in transition. Resetting that balancing mechanism often involves: 1) Enhanced self awareness (getting in touch with the genuine self)  2) Clarifying some specific career goals 3) Locking in on what better looks like in terms of possible next jobs.

An accomplished job search coach will be proficient working with a variety of personal assessment and professional development tools like: DiSC® and the Myers-Briggs Behavioral Type Indicator®. Goals planning (using the S-M-A-R-T approach) and milestone based project planning are tell-tale signs of a solid career advancement plan.

Exceptional communication skills – developing resumes, profiles, correspondence, and dialog.All 3 Involve Writing

Professionals communicate themselves into new and better positions. It’s tough to get serious consideration without some strong and compelling written materials. Resumes and job search correspondence are often the Achilles heels of even the most talented candidates.

Hiring authorities, HR pros, and key decision makers are all pressed for time. It’s tough to outperform a competitor who has the essence of what makes them most employable and valuable down on paper and they articulate it clearly. Writing has become a lost art. Not all job search coaches are expert resume writers, however, it’s advantageous when one is. When the time is right, the coach must also add content, creativity, and strategy to the development and negotiation of job offers.

Confidante and collaboration partner – in for the long haul.

A well qualified job search coach will make it incredibly safe and comfortable for their clients to be open and honest. It is impossible to speak about career issues without also discussing who the client really is as a person.  Good job search collaborations involve some good healthy debate – and all personal information shared should be kept confidential.

Unlocking the Value of Feedback

“People say I don’t take criticism well, but I say, “What the hell do they know?” – Groucho Marx

Feedback is great not just for what it is, but for what comes from it.

For many, feedback is a scary word. “Oh no, I think she’s going to give me feedback on my presentation.” “I hope she skips me.” “Whew, that was close, I thought she was going to say something to me.” These thoughts go through the minds of people with little or no value for feedback. For some, feedback has a negative connotation, erroneously considered synonymous with criticism. Some people have an inability to accept and process feedback.

Image of fluid mercurySo, what makes feedback so tough to handle?  Have you ever seen or tried to touch the chemical mercury (used in old fashion thermometers) when it’s out on its own?  It’s crazy how difficult it is to handle.  In a world where operant conditioning thrives, people do as they see others do. Feedback is not necessarily handled well by the masses.   By its very nature, feedback is surprisingly difficult to handle, for both the feedback giver and the feedback receiver.

To some, it may seem contrarian to offer negative feedback to affect something positively. However, that is often how it is done. People often fear feedback because they don’t want to hear a differing view. Perhaps that also involves a certain degree of insecurity.

The late Edie Seashore, a pioneering behavioral scientist and former head of the National Training Laboratories Institute (NTL) was one this country’s greatest de-fusers of ticking time bombs dressed up as business people and military leaders.

Ms. Seashore would be engaged to sit and listen and watch senior leaders wield their power – and then she would stir the open discussion of feedback. Eloquent as she was, she would often start with a question. “So, what do we see here … what resonated with you?” “How did what was said make you feel?” “Was there anything done physically or said in a certain way that struck you?” She had an incredible way to make people feel safe, both as feedback givers and receivers. She was a master at explaining what it was, how it should be handled, and how to prevent its misuse and sometimes hurtful consequences.

Before closing discussions, she would often ask people to sum up their biggest takeaways.  What became clear to everyone was the value of feedback used wisely. Obviously, Ms. Seashore knew a great deal about feedback – and she used it masterfully to help professionals at all levels improve their leadership.

The best way to get over the fear of feedback is to use it properly. Some of the best feedback someone can get, they go get on purpose.

Feedback Ground Rules (Giving and Receiving)

It is important to keep in mind that in the vast amount of circumstances, the whole purpose of sharing feedback is to contribute in some way to affecting positive change. If this is not the case, what is likely to be shared will simply be harsh criticism. There is a time and place for both. The problem is that the misuse and/or misinterpretation of feedback ends up in the category of criticism, and there is very little lasting value.

  • Make your use of (and request for) feedback timely. Like tomatoes, there’s a shelf lifeImage showing the value of feedback is give and take process
  • Be polite and play it safe. If (as a feedback giver) your intention is positive, say so. If as a feedback receiver your frame of mind is positive (open-mindedness) share that openly
  • Attempt to foster and share open-mindedness, as it can be a catalyst
  • Frame comments to be constructive – not destructive
  • Be specific describing the Situation – what was seen, heard, and/or how it made you feel
  • Speak about the Behavior that is at or near the center of what is being discussed
  • Explain the Impact of what occurred to you (not what you think occurred to others)

The study of feedback indicates there is enormous benefit when both parties share a similar understanding of feedback and how it tends to be handled most effectively. It doesn’t have to be scary at all. Remaining calm through the exchange of feedback is terribly important, as is sustaining that same calm during an ensuing conversation.

Yes, there should be an ensuing conversation – and that can be the fun part where the feedback can be acknowledged, accepted, or agreed upon. Another option of course, is to disagree. Strong disagreement can be a precursor to hurt feelings and a strained relationship.

Sloan Weitzel, author of “Feedback that Works – How to Build and Deliver Your Message”, is credited with making the S-B-I Technique one of the best known approaches to using feedback safely. The acronym stands for: Situation – Behavior – Impact. There is a nifty one-page PDF on the topic at:

In an upcoming article, we’ll take a look at some of the Do’s and Don’ts regarding feedback.

In the meantime, enjoy finding opportunities where adding feedback can mean adding value.

Care to comment?  Your feedback is welcome!

Is That Job Search Coach Qualified?

It is essential for anyone considering engaging a job search coach to understand the coach’s professional background and qualifications. The coaching profession has many disciplines, including, life, business, career, executive, and leadership development. The selected coach should be a master at doing what the client needs done.

The professional employment assistance field has evolved enormously. Recruiters, outplacement companies, employment agencies, human resource consultants, and talent management firms have all morphed with the intention of being contemporary solutions providers to a work-world that is changing more rapidly than ever before.Networking Online

There has been consolidation with some of the large international and national outplacement/career services firms. Lee Hecht Harrison acquired their arch-competitor Drake Beam Morin and the company is now part of the $19 billion mega-services empire of Adecco. Right Management, another career services giant, is now part of the $22 billion global conglomerate Manpower Group.

Finding a strong job search coach requires some research and diligence.

Small boutique firms offering excellent career transition services and job search coaching now represent collectively, a huge share of the market.  The contrast in service delivery approaches between the giant firms and the boutiques is all about personalized service. The small firms can promise to be involved almost daily with all the ins and outs of a client’s job search. In reality, an employee of one of the giant companies making that type of promise would cost them their job!

A job search coach employed by one of the large firms works  almost exclusively with displaced, corporately-sponsored employees.  The vast majority of professionals looking for new jobs nowadays are not sponsored by their company – they are looking on their own and spending their own money.  Most people are not eligible for or can’t afford the large firms.

Any experienced and successful job search coach will have a systematic and proven approach to developing a well thought out job search plan that can be tailored to meet individual client needs while covering:

  1. Clarifying what makes one most employable and valuableStraight Pass
  2. Development of an over-arching strategy
  3. Preparation of executive resumes, Linkedin profile, and key correspondence
  4. Interactive development of essential dialog (personal branding)
  5. Exploration of targeted markets and business circles
  6. Development of third party influence (networking and personal contacts)
  7. Preparation for interviewing and offer negotiations

It is important to find out as much as you can about a job search coach before committing to a working relationship. For everyone looking for a new job, the stakes are high.

It is possible to find a job search coach who can make a huge difference helping you enjoy what you still refer to as your work.