“I wish you could tell me what career I should choose.” I routinely hear some version of this quote from clients. That line has a more personal meaning to me since I said that to a career coach when I was in the midst of a career transition!
My Career Transition
I was not fulfilled in my career and knew I needed to change. I was able to narrow it down to three choices, but could not decide. I felt so overwhelmed and did not want to make the wrong decision. Truly, I wanted to give my decision-making power to someone else. If my coach made a decision for me, then I would have closure and know what the next steps would be. Deep down inside I knew that my coach could not decide for me and that I needed to make a decision. However, that still didn’t alleviate the short-term panic and frustration I felt at the time.
Your Career Coach’s Role
In career coaching, your coach may use a combination of questions, assessments and techniques to help you learn about yourself in new ways. They may help you explore your interests, values, skills and personality style to create an overall picture of who you are and how that relates to a career. During this time, your coach may suggest some career paths for you to research and you will uncover additional careers that appeal to you. Those potential careers will match one or more elements of who you are. This is where the hard part typically comes in for the individual. The coach cannot do the research for the individual to decide if any of those career paths are the right fit for her/him. The individual needs to dig into the research, whether online or in-person, to see how it relates to her/his interests, skills, personality and values. The coach can challenge the individual on the fit to ensure the client is thinking through all of the aspects of the career, however, the coach cannot make the ultimate decision! You would not want your coach to do this, even if it feels that way in the short-term.
Career transition can be difficult. At different times it can be exciting, scary, overwhelming, exhilarating, challenging, etc. A coach can help an individual through all stages of this process in the good times and in the challenging times. Overall, my career transition took over 4 years from the moment I decided on what I wanted to do to actually getting into the profession. However, my transition is not necessarily typical of many clients. My career transition involved applying and attending graduate school. When I reflect back about how long my transition took, it never felt that long. I was able to break it up into small steps that I achieved throughout those 4 years but always kept my eye on the end goal. I have never been happier in my career, and now I realize that overwhelming feeling was something I had to go through. You may wish that a career coach could make a decision for you, but a coach can only guide you in your job search and help you discover what you want. Remember that you know yourself better than anyone.