If you’re considering getting help for a career decision, you may wonder what exactly it would look like to work with a career coach.

Here’s a description of the coaching process and tools I often use when I work with clients on a career decision.

1. Defining the Problem

The first step for me is to make sure I understand exactly what your needs are, and what you’re hoping to achieve by working with me. For example, you may look for a change in your career, and for help figuring out which direction to take. If you’re hoping to get clarity in a career decision, we’re on a good track and I’ll be confident that my process can help you.

2. Clarifying Criteria

If you want to take your career in a new direction, we usually start with an in-depth clarification of your personal criteria.
What matters most to you for your next career move? Partly, this will be an open conversation. Sometimes I use image cards to draw out more information about your core values and issues that matter to you personally. Letting you pick images and talk about them can illuminate your values in a way that words alone may not. Then, we may dig into different aspects with several standardized assessments. For example:
– Assessments of your career-relevant values, interests and preferred work styles
– An assessment of your skills, including those with growth vs. burn-out potential, with the Motivated Skills Matrix
– A personality assessment, based on the five factor model of personality with 30 subscales (IPIP-NEO 300: International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO Personality Inventory – Revised: NEO PI-R)

3. Exploring Options and Strategies

Each of these steps and assessments usually takes at least one session to complete. At the end of each session though, we will always think about possible homework for you, if you’re up for that, so that you can drive the process forward as much as possible in between sessions, if and as much as you choose to. For example:

After the Skills Assessment we may think of new search terms you could use when looking for careers. We’ll discuss search strategies for you, such using O*NET or LinkedIn as sources for information (each very limited in their own way, but valuable and complementary).
The results of the Skills Assessment can be a terrific starting point to re-think your work history and accomplishments. You can do exercises at home that will help you later craft your resume and talk naturally about your skills and strengths in an interview. You’ll find ways to highlight the skills you most enjoy using and would like to grow more in your future.
The Career Values Assessment, as well as the Personality Assessment, can give us new ideas about employers and work environments that would be a good fit for you. You might want to set up informational interviews between sessions, so that you can come back in with new information and new ideas. For most people (not just introverts!) asking someone for an informational interview is not easy. I can help you think about how to reach out and what questions to ask, based on where you’re at in your decision process.

4. Deciding on Your Best Strategies and Planning Next Steps

Once we have the results of all the assessments, we will look through all that information and distill your very personal set of your most important criteria. We will use this set of criteria to guide your search for options and information, and to evaluate specific career paths. Visual tools, such as decision tables and trees, can help us determine which strategies are your winners. We can even evaluate your options with weights and numerical ratings, if the decision is still difficult at that point. Or, I can help you think about particularly uncertain options with risk analysis tools, such as scenario trees. Oftentimes however, these formal tools are not even necessary in the end. You’ll probably have gained enough clarity about what direction you want to take, and about your best strategies to pursue that direction.

Once you have decided on a strategy (or on several you want to keep pursuing), I can help you plan your next steps. At that point you’re probably well on your way. Our coaching process could end there, or you might like to get some continued help and guidance from me, as you take next steps and work towards your next goals. Either way, the clarity you’ll have gained from this process, and the knowledge that you’re making the best possible decision, will help you fully commit and take action.

I hope this description gives you a better idea how career decision coaching could work for you! If you’re interested in coaching or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!