Don't compare your chapter one with someone else's chapter twenty. - Anonymous
If you are reading this article, then you are probably on a mission to finding a career coach who meets your expectations and aligns with your career goals. The job of a career counselor is not very well-defined. On one hand, a professional coach helps others in achieving milestones to realize their professional objectives, while on the other hand, their job is also to provide emotional and mental support to see their clients through personal crises and ensure well-being at work.
According to a global study conducted by the International Coaching Federation, there are close to 55,000 professional career coaches and counselors, who are active currently. And all of them have one objective in mind- your professional success and career development.
Whatever be your reason to seek the services of a career counselor- skill enhancement, knowledge building, confidence-boosting, stress management, emotion management, etc., rest assured that there are easy ways of finding a career coach who understands exactly what you need. It is, however, important to define your own career goals first for yourself before you go about the business of seeking professional services.
What to Expect with Career Counseling?
You can start your search for a career coach online or you can read up on what is career counseling to start with the basics. And when you do, note down why you need help in the first place. This will help you convey your expectations accurately with the career counselor and for him to assess your needs.
What is Career Counseling?
Before your first session with career counsellor, get a good understanding of what is career counseling in the first place. The need for career counseling and professional development courses may arise from one or more of these problems or issues or challenges that you might be facing in your work:
- Starting your own business.
- Scaling your own company.
- Engaging multiple clients and stakeholders in a corporation.
- Managing people.
- Dealing with work-related stress.
- Dealing with frustration and negative emotions arising out of an overdemanding and underpaid job.
- Unable to define your life goals.
- Losing sight of the big picture.
And these are what form the basis of your expectations from career counseling. In addition, you would expect your career counselor to be:
- Active listener.
- An expert.
Sometimes, it is a colossal task for the career counselor to analyze the needs of his clients and devise and deploy the right strategies and coaching tools, respectively. This is a skill that requires a sound understanding of the applications of both Psychology and Sociology. Professional coaches are almost expected to be mind readers!
Align your Goals
You would usually go to the grocery store with a particular list of things to purchase, right? Similarly, when you are finding a career coach, you need to have a list of things- goals and objectives that you wish to take back once you are done with the counseling exercise. You must have a clear idea about your needs so you may place your demands. Mind you, some expert professional coaches can charge you quite a handsome fee for their services, and thus it is advisable to know how to make the best use of their time and experience.
At the end of the day, you want to feel like you have made some progress. You must push the career counselor to put theories to practice. And in the process get pushed yourself through practical exercises that are relevant to real-life scenarios. Look to build important life skills of,
- Conflict management.
- Non-violent communication.
- Influencing without authority.
A career counselor can only guide and facilitate you on your developmental journey. The process is only effective if you have a sense of where you want your life to be headed, how many years you wish to invest in your own growth and learning, and of course, having an awareness of your personal goals. To succeed professionally, there is no alternative to building self-awareness and investing in personal growth.
What Not to Expect with Career Counselling?
A career coach is not a magician. It is true that he can do a lot of things like guiding you with career advice, helping you get a good job, helping you negotiate the best offer, and much more. But there are things that he cannot do and he shouldn't do simply because there has to be ownership at your end to make things happen for your own growth. You, the client, must take charge of certain things before you jump into that first session with career counsellor.
Ask Questions to Build Clarity
Asking questions is critical to success. It is a fundamental and underlying element of every successful professional's story that you would come across. And every life coaching program will tell you that. Ask yourself questions on the lines of :
- What are the problems that are troubling me?
- What are the persistent challenges that keep coming back?
- What are my career and life goals?
- Why can't I assert myself better?
- Why can't I demand a better role?
- What stops me from making effective decisions?
- Why am I always running against time?
- What is causing me so much stress?
These are important to build self-awareness. A career counselor can only guide you to find the answers, but only you have the answers. Look at a career coach more like a friend who is helping you get out of a temporary setback. This whole process can be termed as change management where the coach, with the help of management skills, marketing strategy, research, and expertise, can navigate the coachee from one point to another, from one milestone to another.
Also, career counseling takes time. Be absolutely sure that you can sincerely and diligently dedicate the time of a few months to a couple of years in order to get the desired results. If you want to reap the benefits of a good investment, you must have patience, and you must give it time.
As Abraham Lincoln would say,
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Career Counseling Demands Concrete Goals
Set goals. And set them right. Setting random goals is not helpful. If you are a commerce student and your career goal is to walk on the moon, then a career counselor can't quite help you. So, your goals have to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).
Setting SMART Objectives
There are three broad categories of objectives that an individual would usually set. These relate to,
- Team dynamics.
- Interpersonal relationships.
Most of your activities and milestones usually center around these three types of objectives in your professional life. These have a direct impact on your leadership and career development. As a leader, your objective of finding a career coach could be to improve your people skills and interpersonal relations within your team. You could invite a corporate coach to resolve serious team management issues and conflicts that might be creating a bottleneck to your own development. As the mediator, the coach can significantly reduce internal conflicts and even rebuild social cohesion in a team.
Each objective might be broken down into the core components of SMART:
- An objective must be specific and avoid ambiguity.
- The objective has to be measurable and something that can be quantified.
- It most definitely should be achievable, given your current life context.
- It has to be relevant to you and your career.
- Objectives must have a timeline and you can't work effectively on a specific objective infinitely.
Lack of professional skills in defining objectives can have a serious impact on your career growth and can act as an impediment to your professional development. Remember, the problems you face actually lead to the objectives and eventually the solutions.
Get an idea of the right price for a counseling session.
Successful Careers Ride on Successful Counseling
If you are looking to sign up for a new career counseling program or sessions, you must try to follow these basics in order to achieve the best results. Remember to define your own goals and align your expectations keeping in mind your personality and professional life. Professional coaching can only be helpful if you are ready to help yourself.
If you are unsure of your goals, start with baby steps. Sometimes, unrealistic goals can set you up for inevitable failures and can do more harm to your confidence and self-esteem, having a counterproductive effect on your career development.
In economics, this term is used to describe the positive effects of a process, that were previously not envisioned. Similarly, if you have understood what is career counseling, you must have also understood there is a set of virtuous benefits that may come along the way if you engage with the experience with full sincerity, rigor, and diligence. Signing up for free sessions is all good. But if you really want results, you have to be invested.
It is important to stay positive and focused on the goals. Don't get distracted by minor setbacks and temporary failures. Life will always throw some obstacles that will slow you down. But with professional help, you can always bounce back to positivity.
Try practicing mindfulness to build self-awareness even before you seek the services of a professional career counselor. And to put your doubts to rest, sign up for a free session with the experts at Superprof today!