Before you meet with a career coach, take some time to prepare. If you're feeling overwhelmed or don't know where to start, it's perfectly OK to show up empty-handed and let the coach guide you. However, good preparation can expedite the process and get you a little closer to reaching your career goals. Here are some things you can do to get ready.
Think Through Your Needs and Challenges
Identify how you want the coach to help you. Do you need to improve your resume? Are you concerned that your interview skills are a little rusty? Are you having trouble deciding what types of positions to apply for? If you haven't already, make sure the coach specializes in the areas in which you need help.
Prepare Your Resume
It's a good idea to update your resume before seeing your coach. This gives the coach a sense of who you are and helps him or her understand how you're marketing yourself to potential employers. In addition, if you're going to the coach for help with your resume, you'll get a head start on the work you'll be doing together. Even if you don't think your resume is very good, it can serve as a springboard for revisions and improvements.
Ideally, your resume should be tailored to each position you're applying for. At the very least, you should have multiple versions for different types of positions or employers. If you have multiple versions, bring each one.
Complete a Master Application
While a resume is a marketing tool tailored to a specific position, a master application is a record of every job you've ever held, as well as the following:
- Education and training
- Licenses, certifications, or other credentials
- Special skills (e.g., computer applications or foreign languages)
- Organizations and professional associations you belong to
- Military service
- Volunteer experience
You can make your own master application, or you can find ready-made forms online.
The master application gives your coach a complete picture of who you are. You can also carry your master application with you and refer to it when filling out job applications (after all, who can remember all of those dates, addresses, and phone numbers off the top of their head?). You can also use your master application as a base for different versions of your resume.
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Do Some Self-Assessment
If you're seeing a coach to clarify your career goals, do some initial self-assessment. Ask yourself the following questions and take some notes:
- What do you most enjoy doing?
- What are you naturally good at?
- What do other people say are your greatest strengths?
- What's most important to you in a job?
- What motivates you at work?
- Which of your jobs did you like the most? Which did you like the least? Why?
Take your answers to these questions with you and share them with your coach. They will serve as a starting point for further assessment.
Know Your Budget
If you've done your homework before choosing a career coach, you'll have found an honest, ethical one. Good coaches are aware and respectful of the fact that many job seekers are on limited budgets. Be upfront about what you can afford, and ask the coach to help prioritize your needs. For example, you might be very clear about your career goals, but you have a lot of trouble marketing yourself. Or, your resume might be strong, but you need a lot of help with your interview skills.
Keep an Open Mind
By choosing to work with a career coach, you're taking a leap into an exciting opportunity. Remember to keep an open mind and value the guidance of your career coach. Your coach will likely ask you to do things that are challenging or outside your comfort zone. For example, he or she might suggest a career path you had never considered. Or, your coach might tell you that your resume needs a complete overhaul, when you thought it was OK. You'll probably be assigned homework and goals to complete, some of which may not be easy. This is all part of the career development process.
That doesn't mean you have to accept your coach's advice without question. If you don't agree with something your coach says, tell them why and ask for clarification. Keep the lines of communication open, but be willing to stretch your mind and modify some of your current beliefs and attitudes. Here's to your career success!
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