I’m feeling a rant coming on.

Three times in the last 10 days, I have had senior level people say, or imply, that they are above or beyond the need for career coaching. One person even said it with a chuckle, obviously forgetting who he was talking to. I should also add that all three are in the middle of poorly planned and to date, ineffective job searches.  All three believe that the strength of their networks is all that they need. Certainly, a strong network is one key to an effective search. To my ears, that is just like saying that when you are undertaking a project at work, having good people on your project team is all that you need, with no thought as to a plan, ensuring you have the right tools, or even the ability to articulate the target outcome.

Why Get a Career Transition Coach?

True. We are in the best market in years, so getting “any ol’ job” should be easier than ever. But do you want just “any ol’ job?” I sure hope not. It’s during times like these that you have the very best chance of getting exactly what you want next. You actually have leverage! (Compare to the market in 2008! YIKES! That was a “just be glad you have any job” market)  But do you actually know- and can you clearly articulate- your ideal, mind-blowingly awesome job? If you can’t, you have virtually no chance of getting it!  

 Just getting out and talking to a lot of people does not make an effective job search. I call that the “throw it against the wall and hope something sticks” strategy. It doesn’t work in any other area of our lives, so why would it work when looking for a job? This is where a great coach comes into play.

No one is teaching us how to look for a job, let alone the right job, right now. And yes, that definition changes as YOU change and the rest of your life changes, but the principles are the same. Having worked with senior executives, retiring professional athletes, and with someone from virtually every profession and industry, I can say with great certainty that this is a skill and knowledge set that the vast majority lack. And sometimes, the smartest and most successful people among us aren’t the smartest or most successful when it comes to knowing what they don’t know.

You Need a Plan

Any effective job search (and by effective, I mean one that ends in a job that is a good fit for your skills, experience and what you want in your career) begins with the end in mind. I describe the process as Think, Plan, Execute. Here is how it works:

THINK: Get very clear on what you want- what your ideal job is, where you would work, what you would spend your time doing, what the products, services, mission and values of the organization are and who would you work with. In other words, what would success look most like at the end of your search. Create your communications strategy around it (resume, bio sheet, LinkedIn profile, your verbal messages for your networking conversations)

PLAN: How will you get it? How will you spend your job search time so that it is productive? Who will you meet with? What events will you attend? How will you organize and attack your network? How will you add key contacts to your network? What contacts do you need that you don’t have?

EXECUTE:  After you are done with THINK and PLAN, then and only then should you be EXECUTING your plan.

Because it is easy to confuse action with productivity, most people just start firing and keep firing, wondering why their search is not going anywhere.

If you are working with a career coach and he/she isn’t following a similar philosophy and is instead just encouraging you to “just get out there and talk to people”, well, this isn’t advice you or anyone should be paying for. Get a real career coach!

Hopefully, this comes across enlightening instead of tonally frustrated, but the important point still stands. Especially in a time when the job market is better than ever, you are going to want an expert career coach in your corner to help you navigate the opportunities before you. Never settle for less than your BEST career. If you have a friend or colleague who needs this kick in the right direction, please don’t hesitate to share this important message with them. It could make all the difference in their long-term career success, and most importantly, happiness!