Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of our RiseSmart Certified Career Coaches to ask them about their experiences and to chat about some of the common questions people have about the coaching process and how it might benefit them.
Instead of simply getting advice about how to work with a coach or succeed in the job search process, I was eager to hear some real-life examples from the coaches. We talked about how they approach the challenges people face in navigating the world of work today, and how a coach is uniquely positioned to help their clients develop more sustainable careers.
Here are their insightful and inspiring stories:
Q: Tell me about a time when you helped someone realize their potential?
A: (Erin R.) When Jane started her engagement at RiseSmart, she was traumatized by her recent job loss and felt that she didn’t have any value. After speaking with her, I found that she had several high-dollar wins that simply weren’t recognized or respected by management at her former company. Despite working in the contract department, which is usually a cost center, not a revenue generator, she was responsible for making her company several million dollars over five years, including earning a $5.4m rebate in one transaction.
Together, we worked on updating her professional image, self-marketing documents, and interviewing skills. We also spent considerable time building her self-esteem. We worked together for her full program of three months and she interviewed at six or seven places with multiple rounds, but couldn’t quite seal the deal. By staying the course and working the strategies we’d discussed, she received an offer just two weeks after her program ended. She connected with me on LinkedIn to share the news, and although she was no longer my client, I helped her negotiate the offer and she landed the job!
Q: Can you think of a time when a RiseSmart coaching participant had a particularly challenging hurdle to overcome?
A: (Julia V.) When one of my clients began her career coaching program with RiseSmart, she immediately let me know she had a disability that made it difficult for her to leave her home. She had a condition that required her to take treatments four times a day, which added to her restrictions. When we had our first call, she was very concerned about her hireability and lacked the confidence that she would find an opportunity with the flexibility to work from home.
To begin, I helped her reframe her perspective to focus not on her disability but on the unique value she brings to an organization. Over the next four weeks, we worked together to create a target company list. Within one month of starting the application process, she was offered her dream job, where she works exclusively from home!
To begin, I helped her reframe her perspective to focus not on her disability, but on the unique value she brings to an organization – advice from @RiseSmart Certified Career Coach
Q: Many people are interested in changing careers, or feel they need to if their industry doesn't have good long-term prospects. How have you helped a job seeker change careers?
A: (Jennifer Y.) Linda was already active in her job search when we began our work together. She had been considering a career pivot but didn’t know where to start. I suggested a dual approach and offered some strategies to pursue opportunities in both her current role and her new interest.
Our new approach resulted in lots of traction early in the process and numerous interviews. Despite multiple opportunities, Linda was struggling to find her best fit. It was an emotional process, and we had lots of conversations. We spent time revisiting her skills, strengths and talents to keep her confidence high and to help her develop momentum as her search unfolded. I often reminded her that she was not just looking for "a job" but was looking for the right next move in her career development.
I often reminded her that she was not just looking for "a job" but was looking for the right next move in her career development - @RiseSmart Certified Career Coaches give advice to live by.
Through coaching sessions that helped her stay on track, Linda could truly consider each role. She began to interview companies as much as they were interviewing her to make sure she landed a role that would fit her goals.
After several months of searching, and lots of interview conversations, she landed her dream job with a company that is a great fit!
Q: We often talk to coaching participants about the benefits of networking, but we know many people are reluctant to try it. Can you think of a job seeker who gave it a go and realized the benefits of networking?
A: (Danielle D.) When my client began her engagement, we quickly identified two challenges. First, her longest stay at any company in the last decade had been two years, partly due to making career shifts and partly due to being affected by reductions in force. Secondly, she was quite reluctant to network.
I coached her on the importance of activating, what turned out be, the extensive network she had developed throughout her career. She was reluctant to reach out to her network at first, so we worked together to role play how to break the ice, weave in her PVP (Professional Value Proposition), and develop comfortable peer-to-peer relationships. I also provided her with an agenda and script to reference when calling trade associations to inquire about networking opportunities.
Her networking efforts immediately yielded information that led to interviews. To help her build confidence and develop better interviewing skills, I coached her on language to use to explain what some could perceive as ‘job hopping’. To avoid the need to search again in two years, I helped her develop a strategy to ask questions when interviewing to determine if staying and growing in a new role was a viable option. As a result of cultivating her network and acing interviews, she landed a fantastic job as a marketing events coordinator with growth potential. She is now working with a team where she feels she can thrive and grow over the next few years.
Q: We have a lot of interesting characters who participate in our coaching. How do you adjust to an individual’s personality and personal preferences?
A: (Terry H.) One of my favorite stories is about a client from a small Midwestern town. She was very angry about losing her job, and she had low confidence in her tech savviness. In the beginning, she had many reasons why she wouldn't, or couldn't, do the things I advised her to do.
After several mutually frustrating meetings, we decided we needed to move our focus in a different direction. I introduced meet-ups as an alternative to networking, and she joined two meet-up groups. One group was a book club and the other was a crafting group. Within two weeks of joining the meet-ups, she had a chance conversation that landed a job interview. By then, she was ready to take my advice and we worked on interviewing skills. After just one interview, my initially resistant client had landed a role about which she was very excited.
Q: If someone is in a position where they have multiple job offers, how can career coaching help someone then?
A: (Janet F.) Ravi was formerly employed by a major retailer. During our engagement, he was contacted by a large tax preparation firm – an entirely new industry for him. At the same time, he identified a role at a large sports apparel and footwear manufacturer that he wanted to pursue.
Upon my recommendation, he did some adventurous networking and reached out to an executive at the manufacturer via LinkedIn to express his interest in the role. The executive immediately responded and Ravi had several interviews with the organization. In the midst of interviewing, the tax preparation firm made him an offer. Since the start date was delayed, he decided to ramp up with the manufacturer while continuing to follow up with the tax firm.
During this process, the manufacturer slowed down their hiring process, resulting in a number of see-saw circumstances and frequent updates and calls between Ravi and myself. We discussed the pros and cons and reviewed the latest scenarios with both companies and the specific roles.
Ultimately, he had to make a choice. Once he accepted his chosen position, he shared that he totally appreciated that I was there for him whenever he needed to discuss his strategy with both companies.
Q: Can you give a quantifiable example of the power of personal coaching?
A: (Cynthia R.) By the time Aaron came to me, he had applied for 100 jobs and had only landed one interview. We held regular meetings and worked hard to help him uncover more accomplishments for his resume, update and learn how to use LinkedIn for connections and job alerts, complete his professional value proposition (PVP), and step up his networking and communications efforts.
Once we had streamlined his profiles and improved his communications, Aaron started landing several more interviews and made it to the second round with some. He was so confident in his ability to land a role that would allow him to reach his career goals, he declined two interviews and held out for the right fit job.
Q: Often people have an urgent need to find a new job. How do you work with someone in that situation?
A: (Kimberly B.) Bill, a business development executive, came into the program in a hurry to find his next great job. And, he continually had specific – always rushed – needs. He felt he was under financial and professional stress and needed to act immediately. The first thing he said to me was that he wanted the best coach at RiseSmart to help him. He then let me know that if I wasn't the best, I should transfer him right away to someone who could handle his personality and needs.
I recognized the urgency with which he needed to see some action. To alleviate his concerns, we worked together frequently, sometimes twice a week, to develop great marketing materials, identify and respond to solid job leads, strategies to help him tap into his network, and create a solid advisory board with support and community.
Interestingly, despite his initial rush, he has come close to accepting several offers but has turned them down. His anxiety and stress has been replaced by the confidence that he will find the right role and manager, in an organization where he will begin his next great job.
It takes more than job search knowledge to be a career coach.
Ultimately, my conversations with these RiseSmart Certified Career Coaches showed me that great coaching requires something in addition to industry knowledge and an understanding of the latest coaching practices. Our coaches are all supremely skilled in their ability to meet each individual where they are and provide the coaching that will help them move to the next stage in their career.
They take the time to listen and then flex and adapt their style and approach, within our proven methodology, to deliver what the individual needs. They're not following a mechanical process and just checking off items to deliver in a program. They go above and beyond to deliver what each person needs. The stories I heard were inspiring and reaffirmed to me that anyone - regardless of their situation - can identify and achieve a fulfilling career goal when they have to start a new chapter in their professional journey.
To learn more about what people are looking for from workplace coaching, check out the research in our Buyer's Guide for Enterprise Coaching Platforms.