Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

Case Study: How Coaching Works

(It’s heartwarming when a client can write his own case study showcasing our work together. In negotiating his benefit package, he ended up with a $22,000 salary increase. This is the client referenced in parts of this blog post – Ask for What You Are Worth).

This client was referred to me by a former client. He was preparing to leave one level of government to another.

After we had finished our coaching work together, he volunteered to give me a testimonial. I asked if he could reflect on what it was like working with me, and then send it in his own words.

Here’s what I received. Instead of re-writing it, I have kept it in point form to maintain its originality:

Before Application:

  • I reached out to Daisy this past July for some interview and resume help
  • She responded promptly regarding how the process worked
  • I sent her my resume and job posting as reference
  • She prepared some introductory questions for me to review
  • We set up time for a quick conversation on the phone regarding her services and the potential role

During our initial call, we:

  • Reviewed my resume at a high level
  • Reviewed the job posting in detail
  • Daisy recommended some options to best tailor my resume to the job posting in order to increase the probability of being selected
  • We decided to reconnect if I was invited to an interview

Before Interview:

  • A little over a month after I applied for the role, I was invited for the first round of interviews
  • To prepare for the interview, I reached out to Daisy for some coaching sessions
  • She sent me sample behavioural questions to review. Many of these questions were based on the job posting

 Session 1 (telephone conversation)

  • We identified my challenges and obstacles, and reviewed potential options to overcome them
  • We discussed some approaches to answering key behavioural questions
  • I read a few of my responses to Daisy, and she would suggest ways to improve delivery and timing
  • We strategized on key language and tone to use/emphasize in my responses, significant story lines based on my experience that linked to the job posting
  • Before wrapping up the call, we put a plan in place to prepare for the mock interview in Session 2 which was to take place the night before the first interview

Session 2 (Mock Interview)

  • Began the coaching session with generic questions, practiced responses, tweaked delivery with emphasis on being both concise and informative
  • Reviewed situational/behavioral and scenario-based questions and how best to pivot and address follow up questions
  • Discussed the appropriate length of responses to key questions

Morning of the First Interview:

  • I received a quick pep talk from Daisy on key speaking points and reassurance that I was ready “tell my stories”.

Before Second Interview

  • I was invited to the second round of interviews
  • Daisy provided some additional guidance for the second interview including discussing:
    • General fit for the role
    • Experience dealing with key stakeholders
    • Consensus building

Received Job Offer

Before formally accepting the offer, we discussed negotiation strategies:

  • How to make a case for more money. (I was a bit worried that if I raised the money issue, the offer could be withdrawn. Daisy assured me, as long as I wasn’t being unreasonable, I didn’t have to worry about anything).
  • We discussed benefits and options to include in the offer.
  • I went into the negotiation conversation feeling more confident. The deal was sealed.

Verdict – What it was like working with Daisy:

Daisy is a consummate professional who knows her stuff. She is easy to talk to, patient and honest. I would recommend her in any, and every professional development scenario. For me, she was the difference.

My own words:

Coaching works. It’s a collaboration. The client is the expert, and the coach offers support and guidance to help the client affirm confidently what they already know.

Life and Work Getting You Down? Call a Career Coach

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

You can’t reach the top of your game all by yourself. Just as sporting champions benefit from the wisdom and guidance of their coaches, so can you in your working career.

~ Robert Half Career Coaching Guide

Once upon a time coaching was exclusive to business executives, actors, athletes, professional speakers, and entertainers. These experts hire coaches to help them assess their strengths and weaknesses, keep them motivated and support them as they work toward fulfilling their goals and dreams. You might not fall into any of those categories, but that does not mean you couldn’t benefit from coaching. If you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms you might want to consider a career coach:

  • You are standing at a crossroads in your career and need help identifying the right direction
  • You are dissatisfied with your job, but not sure what to do next
  • You Lack confidence and have been passed over for promotions or other job opportunities
  • You are not getting interviews, and when you do, you are not moving on to the next stage

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman who has been in a career rut for a few years. Her career includes working in marketing and advertising with some well-known brands in Toronto. She also had a stint in television. Now she is ‘stuck’. At the end of our exploratory conversation, I asked her, “So, how can I help you? She said, “Ugh, I thought you would tell me.” I explained to her that coaching isn’t about telling someone what to do – it’s asking the right question to help the person gain clarity and come up with his or her own answers.

At the end of the conversation, I thought about this common misconception that people have about career coaching. A career coach cannot look into a crystal ball and tell a client what to do. It’s a collaborative process. The client explains the challenge they face, and where they might need the most help. The coach listens, prods, listens some more, advises, provides resources and keeps the client accountable.

Of course, it’s not easy to get out of a rut. Sometimes the journey starts off on the right foot but at some point the wheel falls off. Life gets in the way sometimes, but most times it’s because of a lack of action; a firm commitment to doing the homework (assessments, assignments, quizzes), and participate fully in the process. At some point they  abandon the process and give up. Giving up shouldn’t be an option if one really desires to get out of a rut.

Author and Marketing expert Bill Connolly wrote an article in Entrepreneur titled Stop Planning Your Career and Take Action. In it he summarizes the story of Dr. Susan O’Malley, a cosmetic doctor and personal development expert who specializes in helping people transform their own obstacles into victory:

  • College-dropout who worked as a secretary
  • At age 39 she became a doctor. (The day she started medical school she was six months pregnant and single.)
  • Became an entrepreneur at age 50
  • At 63 she became a first-time author writing her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success

Dr. O’Malley did not waver, complain or give up when she was forced  into a middle age change. “She dove head first into her new path, realizing that ‘now’ was far better than ‘never’, said Connolly. She advises anyone in similar positions as she was to start with small risks and work your way up.

“Everybody is afraid at one time or another. Fear prevents us from taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zone. All the stars will never be aligned perfectly and sometimes you have to make a decision with what you have.”

Anyone who realizes they are in a rut (career or otherwise), and wants a change, should take  action. Don’t leave such an important decision to happenstance. Once the decision is made, keep calm and carry on. Giving up should never be an option.

If you are feeling demoralized; if you find yourself at a plateau, and if you lack confidence, you might want to consider career coaching. A career coach can boost your confidence and give you a competitive edge.

 

How to Make Sure You Get a Seat in the House

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After a 22-year hiatus, baseball playoff fever hit Toronto (well, all of Canada for that matter), and it was contagious. I couldn’t watch, tweet or read enough about the Blue Jays (until Game 6 of course), but one story in the Toronto Star of October 8, caught my attention. In that story I discovered a seldom used strategy that job seekers, career changers, and entrepreneurs could emulate, and it came from a diehard Blue Jays fan, 81-year old Herm Dyck.

Sportswriter, Dave Feschuk, wrote how Dyck’s passion for baseball got him the best seats in the house in 1977, when Major League Baseball announced that Toronto was getting an expansion team.

Prior to that announcement, Dyck, a businessman at the time, had heard that beer industry executive, Don McDougall, wanted to move the San Francisco Giants to Toronto. He didn’t know McDougall, but he knew that he wanted the best seats in the house, so he contacted him. According to Feschuk, Dyck wrote a letter to McDougall congratulating him on wanting to bring the franchise to Toronto, and included the following line: “And by the way, this is my application for two tickets should a team materialize.”

The Giants’ move didn’t materialize, but Dyck kept his letters going. By 1977, when MLB announced that Toronto was going to get a franchise, Dyck was well known by McDougall. He had pestered him so much that McDougall called him one day and said, “Any man that’s as interested as you are, can have any two seats in the house.” He still has those two seats whenever the Blue Jays play at home games. That’s called ‘nurturing a relationship’.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when an 18-year-old high school student saw a sign in a plaza that a major pharmacy chain was going to open a store in her neighbourhood. She faxed her resume as the sign stated, but did not stop there.

She called the head office of the pharmacy to ask for additional information. She was given the name and contact information of the new owner whom she called. In the conversation she informed him that she lived within walking distance of the proposed pharmacy, that she had had some retail experience, and that she was looking forward to working with him.

Her resume was pulled from the pile and she was one of the first people to be interviewed and subsequently hired. Her proactive efforts got her a seat in the house. That’s called ‘brazen and proactive’.

While Tristan Walker, founder of Walker & Company Brands, is pretty well known in Silicon Valley now, that was not always the case. A Fast Company article reported that Walker “emailed Dennis Crowley, cofounder and CEO of Foursquare, eight times asking for a job. After Crowley half-seriously offered to meet him, Walker hopped on a flight to New York the next day and showed up at their offices, laptop in hand. Stunned, Crowley and cofounder Naveen Selvadurai challenged him to sign up 30 small businesses as Foursquare merchant partners within a month. He found 300 in a little over a week. After that, he was asked to become the company’s first director of business development.” That’s called persistence.

One does not have to be a business man like Herm Dyck, a brazen and proactive 18-year old high school student, or a self-starter like Tristan Walker, to get a seat in the house. It matters that you want something so badly that you will do anything (legal and within reason) to get it.

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Some people, especially those conducting a job search, might say “Been there, done that”. Others might want to dismiss this approach because it sounds hard, or because someone tells them it’s futile. And, then there are those who will take the easy, docile route that most people take instead of going the extra mile. They upload their resumes to an inanimate applicant tracking system, then wait for someone to contact them. When that doesn’t happen they revert to questioning their capabilities, and start believing the naysayers who speak in absolutes: “You are wasting your time because it will NEVER work. It never worked for me, and it won’t for you.”

To get a seat in the house takes all the courage you can muster, a willingness to step out of your comfort zone, and a determination to let go of negative people. You have to surround yourself with ‘possibility thinkers’ who can encourage you when the going gets tough. And then, you have to be resolute and persistent, and eliminate the notion of giving up just because you hear “No”. Remember that ‘No’ is not final. It just means ‘not yet’.

Those are some of the strategies that will help you to get a seat in the house.

Are you ready for the challenge? If so, what can you start doing NOW that will take you closer to getting a seat in the house?

Related Links:

Toronto Star & Herm Dyck

Fast Company & Tristan Walker