Sunday, July 5, 2015

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Job Search Coach

Thinking of hiring a Job Search Coach?
It can be a good move.  A good job search coach can save you a lot of time and angst, and assist you in finding a better job faster! 

While there is NO MAGIC PILL that can get the job done in a nano-second  – as some job seekers I’ve met would like      there definitely are advantages to seeking the help of someone who knows more than you about finding a job today.   
A good job search coach can . . .
  • Instruct you in the right moves to make and in what order.   
  • Update you on what’s current in job seeking techniques, especially if it’s been a while since your last job search. 
  •  Help you figure out and interpret what things mean. 
  •  Just as importantly, advise you on what actions NOT to take.
A great job search coach will do even more.  He or she will . . . 
  • Go above and beyond the immediate task of job finding and help you get a view of the task from the 20,000-foot strategic level, and help you plan your job search strategy, and then  
  •  Get down in the weeds and identify, assess, and assign tactical moves you should make to implement your job search.

So, hiring a coach can be one of the best investments you can make in your career whether you . . .
  • Need a job
  • Are employed but thinking about making a transition
  • Want to move laterally or vertically in your current organization
  • Need a tune-up to tune into or up your interpersonal skills, career strategy, or some quality that is derailing your career. 

“I never worked with a coach, . . . ”
You may be saying to yourself that you never worked with a coach, or had a less than successful experience with one, or “It’s not rocket science - I can figure this out on my own.”  So, if you’d prefer to go it alone, that’s OK.  However, if you are beginning to think that hiring a job search coach is in your best interest, read on.

Don’t make these Mistakes When Hiring a "JSC"
A Job Search Coach  - that we’ll refer to from now on as your JSC - who isn’t right for you can cost you time, opportunities, and dollar$.  So, it is critical to find the right coach for you to avoid these costs.  To do that, avoid making these 6 mistakes when hiring your own JSC.

Mistake # 1: A Magic Pill !
That elusive magic pill . . . that cure-all that if you could only find it would make everything so much easier! Well, there isn’t one for:
  Losing weight
  Getting out of debt
  Getting rich using this simple technique
  Earning your degree in a nano-second, or . . .
  Finding a job!
There are no magic pills to accomplish these tasks.  None are easy.  Each takes commitment, some knowledge building, and a willingness to put in the time and do the work!
If it sounds to good to be true, . . . 
Be wise and beware:  If the solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 
I continue to hear promotions for "jobs in 30 days," or "30+ job offers in 2 weeks," ya-da - ya-da- ya-da!  And, I often hear the flip side of “Former executive out of work for 3 years, living in their car, destitute” or “Submitted 1000 applications and never got one call back.”   When I hear either of these extremes of the job seeking spectrum, they don’t ring true. 

Trust me, after years of working with 1000s of clients, the truth is this:  If you want a job, you’ve got to do the work!  And, hiring a JSC is no magic pill to cure your job seeking ills.  Don’t have such expectations, nor hire a coach who leads you to believe that the task ahead of you is easy or quick.  Sure luck plays a part, and a job seeker can find an opportunity sooner rather than later.  But, for most, finding a job is a process that takes some time and involves:
●  Planning a strategy
  Learning about, developing, and learning to use their marketing tools
  Pro-active networking, leading to pro-active interviewing
  Negotiating their offer'S' - the goal of any proactive search
●  And planning for their continued career growth!

Advice:  So, if a prospective coach tries to offer you a magic pill, run - don't walk - the other way!  Run toward a coach who initially paints a realistic picture of the path ahead and work involved in finding a job in today’s tough marketplace.

Mistake  # 2:  You’re mismatched.
It has to feel like a good fit - pretty much from the get-go!  It’s not a marriage, but it should have some of the same aspects of a good partnership.  And, you sometimes will feel that it’s a good fit before you can actually put into words what makes it so.

So, look for a coach with whom you feel comfortable . . . and this should begin from your first interaction.  Certainly, relationships in all aspects of life develop and grow, and the relationship between you and your JSC is no exception.  However, most of my clients tell me that they felt “comfortable” from our first contact, initial meeting, or initial phone call and felt, or even said that “they wanted to work with me.”  If you feel uncomfortable, beware and explore further before you commit.

Often, those in career transition will reach out to their network for a referral to a JSC.  (We JSC’s appreciate those referrals! ) However, just because a JSC and your network contact were a good fit doesn’t necessarily mean you will be.  It’s like getting a referral from a friend who raves about their doctor or hairdresser, etc.; then you meet the doctor or lawyer and it doesn’t work for you.  Referrals are a good way to find a JSC, but just keep in mind that personalities and work styles don’t always mesh.

Advice:  You have to feel a comfort factor, that also leads to confidence and trust in your coach.  I’m not talking about those feelings you get from time to time of being annoyed at your coach for pushing you to complete tasks, attend networking meetings, . . . in other words to make progress.  That's your JSC's job and they are pushing you toward things that are good for you and will get you where you want to go.  No, I’m talking about a nagging feeling you may have that this may not be a good partnership for getting you where you want to go.  If it’s there, beware and keep searching.  And, that leads me to Mistake # 3.

Mistake  # 3:   No accountability. 
Good job search coaches hold their clients accountable.  There are tasks to be done for planning, preparing, and implementing your job search.  An experienced and effective JSC is going to lay this process out for a client in the initial exploratory conversation.  

Most coaches offer an initial exploratory meeting in which they learn about you, your situation, and goal.  They provide an explanation of what’s involved in the process of finding a job and working with them.  Use this time to ask questions, and evaluate if you feel both (1) comfortable with the coach and (2) the process you’ll be embarking upon.  Listen for “To Dos” that the JSC will require of you.

For instance, I give my clients "To Do's" which need to be done by our next meeting.  Sure, most JSCs work with the client on the resume, but I actually give them assignments on not only their resume, but on development and use of their network plan and marketing plan.  We then decide upon what professional associations and networking opportunities need to be identified, attended, and followed-up.  We later assign target marketing to prospective employers tasks.  With these “To Do’s,” clients feel a sense of progressing.  I think most like it  ---  despite some whining! --  because they feel they are making progress . . . and they are!

Advice: Job search is a process.  A job seeker has to follow the process.  A good job search coach is going to make sure you do.  They will hold you accountable for what you do and what you fail to do, and they’ll not be shy in telling you about it.  If the coach you are considering hiring doesn’t acquaint you with their process for finding a job today, nor discuss the steps required, buyer beware!

Mistake  # 4:   A lack of dot-connectivity . . . or vision
Sounds technical right? . . . like something Apple or Micro-Soft would come up with?  Actually, it’s just my way of saying a “great” coach will help you connect the dots!

I recall the time a client walked into a coach’s office and emerged 20 minutes later.  I was surprised because my client meetings are rarely under an hour, and often even run over.  To my questioning look, the coach said of the client:   “He only had 2 questions!” 

Here’s the point:  Great coaches see the big picture!  They rarely stop at 20 minutes or 2 questions.  They see what they client doesn’t see, beyond the immediate questions, because they know their field and can see what’s coming down the pike.  Drawing upon their knowledge of the job search process and challenges, the client’s profession and industry, the employment market, and the status of employment in general,  they use the questions as jumping off points to enhance the questions' answer and the client’s education, as well as preparation for and assignment of more tasks.  

Advice:   "Job seekers don't know what they don't know."  But the great coach does, and will use these "teaching moments" for the client's advantage!

Mistake  # 5:   Your JSC as Your Trainer
In their hearts, great JSCs are trainers.  They get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing their client grow, develop, and win. . . . . . 
  • Win at conquering their fears of networking, 
  • Win at getting a networking meeting with a hard-to-reach contact, 
  • Win at learning how to interview network contacts for information, 
  • Win at interviews, and
  • Win the job that is their dream job! 
Great JSCs are trainers who will push you to develop, do the work, and hold your feet to the fire.  The essence of their job is to train their client in the process of how to find a new position or make a transition in their current job.  Granted, due to the turbulent times of ups and down over the last few decades in employment, as well as the professional experience a job seeker has, clients come to their JSCs with different levels of knowledge about how to make a transition:
  1. Some who have been through previous job searches, may only need a tune-up of their job seeking skills and knowledge; 
  2. Others who have never needed to find a job before need to begin at the beginning!  
A sign of a good coach is they take your experience into account and meet you were you are.  

Advice:  Look for a coach who describes a logical, orderly, progressive approach to your job search and expects you to follow it - a sign of a good trainer.  Look for a JSC who has stories to tell and experiences to recount about their clients’ successes in following the process, as well as the outcomes for those clients who balked at having to follow the process or do the work and who were less than successful.

Mistake #6:   It’s all about sales
You may have heard it said that finding a job requires selling yourself.  It requires a job seeker to not only develop “marketing” materials that highlight their capabilities and achievement, but to use these marketing materials to develop contacts that lead to developing relationships with target organizations that could benefit from employing them.  How to go about this and then doing it is . . . Sales.

Job search is all about sales . . . 
  • Knowing what you bring to the marketplace, 
  • Learning the needs of organizations within the marketplace for the capabilities, education, and experience you possess, and 
  • Being able to discuss with a company or organization how hiring you could help them solve their problems, fulfill their needs, and achieve growth and success.
When you are able to articulate how you can help, and back it up with proof via your achievements, you are SELLING.  It is neither pushy nor bragging.  It is using the “facts” of your past achievements to make a case for future ones that you could contribute to your next employer.

Advice:  Look for a coach who understands the fact that job seeking is all about sales.  Better yet, look for one who has actually “sold” products and/or services so they can teach you how from their personal experiences, successes, and yes . . .  failures!  Selling yourself is the essence of job search, and you need a coach who can help you do so.  The message is this, . . . if you can’t sell, it’s hard to teach someone how to make the sale and getting a job requires making the sale!

A "Smart Strategy!"
Hiring a Job Search Coach - a JSC - is a smart strategy.  It can really help you get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.  But, as with all things important, Buyer Beware.  Being aware of the 6 potential mistakes you can make can help you avoid them.  It's a Smart Strategy.
____________________________________________________________________________                AJC - for Your Career Path
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