Laumeister offers an example: say you’re a CMO at an ecommerce company and another ecommerce company wants to hire you. They’ll pay you more and its a better environment. In that situation, it’s pretty obvious that you face a good opportunity.
“Rarely in today’s world is it that simple,” Laumeister says. “A lot of times it means taking a risk, like going to a smaller company, getting more responsibility, or trading cash for equity — all these issues [can] come into play.”
In situations like these, Laumeister believes job seekers at all levels can benefit from career coaches.
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But First — What Is It?
Most of us are familiar with the concept of workplace mentors and/or advisors, but Laumeister is quick to point out that career coaches perform a very different function.
“A career coach is someone who’s professionally trained to help candidates achieve their goals, and sometimes that requires figuring out what those goals are,” he says. “The coach is focused on surfacing what your goals are in your career and helping you achieve them. They help you discover what you’re looking for, and then execute a process to get you there.”
According to Laumeister, career coaches can discover job seekers’ strengths and teach them how to articulate those strengths to prospective employers, but they’re especially adept at helping job seekers understand their weaknesses.
“It’s hard to really look at yourself in a mirror and say, ‘I’m not good at something,’ to have that self-awareness,” Laumeister says. “A career coach is trained to figure that out.”
Of course, communicating someone’s flaws in a constructive way requires a deft touch. The best career coaches can turn weaknesses into opportunities for growth. “They’re trained in how to communicate it to the candidate in such a way that the candidate doesn’t get defensive; they don’t put up a wall, but rather they embrace that change and start to work on addressing those issues,” Laumeister says.
Do You Need a Career Coach?
“Frankly, if people can afford it, I think everyone would benefit from [career coaching],” Laumeister says. But not everyone has career coaching in the budget. So, who really needs to set aside the money and invest in a career coach?
As mentioned above, job seekers who are considering riskier moves might want to get in touch with a career coach for extra guidance. Laumeister also believes that career coaches are an especially good idea for young candidates who are entering the workforce for the first time.
“When they’re looking for their first job, they don’t really understand the hiring process. They don’t understand what people are looking for,” Laumeister says. “So they go in, they tell their story, they’re all excited, but then they don’t get the job and they don’t know why.”
A lot of career coaches have backgrounds in recruiting and HR, so they can help young job seekers (and anyone else frustrated by the somewhat mysterious world of job hunting) navigate the at-times complicated hiring process. “Career coaches can say, ‘This is what you need to present, this is how you need to present it, and this is what employers are looking for when they’re hiring somebody.’” Laumeister says. “Just having that view of the other side of the table is incredibly valuable. You can guess at it, but it’s really hard to get on your own.”
How Can You Find One?
Laumeister believes the Internet has made tracking down the right career coach much, much easier than it used to be.
“Typically, in the old days, it was word of mouth: You asked a friend and they asked a friend and they knew a guy,” Laumeister says.
But there was no guarantee that your friend’s friend’s career coach was the right fit for you. “That person may have been great for your friend and not so good for you,” Laumeister says. “They may have a different industry focus or a different level of job.”
Now, places like Laumeister’s CoachMarket exist. Job seekers can look through databases of coaches and find the ones who are best suited to address their specific needs. Laumeister stresses the importance of vetting career coaches before deciding on one.
“It’s really important to follow a process, to find someone you’re comfortable with,” he says.