By Chris Bardwell – Head of the Career Connection

Those who work with students making the transition from college to the workforce are all too aware of the need for training and information that is up-to-date, comprehensive and practical. To prepare college students effectively and help them advance their careers, this article discusses information about career coaching, its benefits and managing careers in the 21st century workplace.

As a seasoned workforce learning and career development consultant I have worked with countless individuals who consulted me for career coaching. What prompted these appointments? They were all facing many issues related to their careers and work situations. Some reported being frustrated and having become complacent in their jobs. Others had hit roadblocks in their careers and needed help to jumpstart them. Some told me that they were just biding their time and counting the days until they could retire. A number of individuals said that they were upset at having been bypassed for promotions despite their best efforts to prepare themselves to move ahead. I share this backstory to give you an idea of just what the career coaching process entails for individuals on the job. Our focus here is to offer you knowledge and information about career coaching so that you can take advantage of the process now as you build your career during your college years and transition to landing your dream job and becoming the best “career manager” you can as you advance in the 21st century workplace. Let’s get started.

What is Career Coaching

Career coaching is a partnership between an individual and a coach where the person is assisted with identifying and achieving goals. In short, career coaching includes a wide variety of professional activities which help people deal with career-related challenges. For example, career coaches work with young people like you seeking to explore career options, experienced professionals contemplating a career change, women who take a “career stop out” and want to return to work after taking time raise their children or individuals looking for jobs.

A coaching relationship can take many forms. It can be through personal sessions, email correspondence, telephone calls, Skype, but the key to successful coaching is regular communication over a period of time. Career coaching is also offered in various setting, including groups and individually.

The following list is of some of the reasons why an individual might choose to work with a career coach that can be found on the website of the International Coach Federation, a professional coaching community that builds, supports, and preserves the integrity of the coaching profession:

-Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity)

-A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
-A desire to accelerate results

-A lack of clarity with choices to be made

-Success has started to become problematic

-Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences

-Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them

Sound familiar? Yes, they sound a lot like the clients I have coached in the past. These reasons are also ones that you may face as you prepare yourself to set career goals, get ready for internships, part-time jobs, on-campus, telephone or on-site interviews or are preparing to make a transition from college to the world of work.

Benefits of Career Coaching

A career coach will listen and observe what you have to say and customize their approach the individual client’s needs, and elicit solutions and strategies to move you forward.

The career development process is a self-initiated process with you in the driver’s seat.

Support and resources can also be found through your college career planning and placement office. You can also research services available through outside career coaches.

With regard to the job search process which includes job search/action plans: which includes career goal setting/clarification, developing and writing resumes, preparing for interviews and researching options, a career coach can work with you on the various steps. This also entails helping you focus: deciding which organizations are a good fit for you, helping you decide what you need to do to be competitive and who can connect you to these organizations. Moving to the exploration phase of the process, a career coach can help you get answers to what’s out there and options, jobs, careers and industries that fit your specific skills and interests. In addition, a coach can also help you with self-assessment: this involves helping you answer who you are in terms of your interests, skills, values and work style. You may also be invited by a career coach as part of this stage of the career development process to complete various personality, job skills, and career interest assessments.

So what’s the “value-add” of using a career coach? A career coach can provide you with personalized goal setting, help you focus on your progress and provide you with continuous support over a course of coaching sessions.

Working with a coach can help you set better goals than you would probably do on your own and help you be accountable for achieving what you committed to work toward.

Again, you are the driver of the process and your success.

Through their expertise in career development and labor markets, career coaches can put your qualifications, experience, strengths and weakness in a broad perspective while also considering your desired salary, personal hobbies and interests, location, job market and educational possibilities. Through their counseling and teaching abilities, a career coach can additionally support you in gaining a better understanding of what really matters to you personally, how you can plan your career with self-direction, or help you make tough decisions and get through times of crisis. A time of crisis would be an instance where you get a “thanks for interviewing with us, but no thanks…rejection letter” for a job you were really excited about. Career coaches support their clients in finding internships and jobs. They also assist people with working out conflicts with their employers, or find support through situations like the coaching I provide that takes place with employees on-the-job. In most instances, career coaching provides a win-win for the client as well as the coach. Once a goal has been identified, both strive to work toward results in these areas. Once results are achieved, accomplishments are celebrated: that successful interview, new job offer, a promotion, new skill or competency and so forth.

Managing Your Career in the 21st Century Workplace

The 21st century workplace provides challenges for every type of business or organization. Demands on managers and supervisors are increasing and changing. Managers are asked to do more with less. They are told to empower their people, but are still held accountable for results. These changes in the workplace are imposing new requirements and demands on organizations to continuously generate new ideas and produce better results. Organizational excellence is now even more dependent upon the ability to create new responses to changing conditions.

In addition, managers are increasingly faced with the responsibility of creating and maintaining high-performing organizations, with mobile workforces, knowledge workers and people working at Internet speed. They also must implement strategies to retain their best employees and align employee goals with their organization’s goals. To deal effectively with large volumes of information – and produce more effective results to remain competitive in the workplace. While this appears to be a huge undertaking, managers who are truly successful recognize that they can and must meet these challenges if they want to move their careers forward.

This is where you come in. Companies are keenly concerned about their success and their people – or as you will hear it referred to in human resources jargon – its “human capital.” Companies spend a significant amount of money and resources on talent with the goal of being able to attract, motivate and retain individuals who can contribute to the organization’s success and the creation of stockholder value. They are also looking to build a strong pipeline of next generation leaders. You are an important part of this equation.

You will be attractive and hired by an organization because you have a unique set of knowledge, skills, abilities and potential.

As such, you will be a key part of helping your organization accomplish its objectives.

By understanding what’s expected in the work world today you can start to prepare yourself with a competitive edge for tomorrow. Career coaching provides you that competitive edge. If you want a deeper understanding of who you are and what type of career would bring you purpose and meaning, you can discuss this with your career coach. If you want a roadmap for taking your career to the next level, your coach can help you with planning and strategies for moving ahead.

If you need a sounding board to talk out ideas and brainstorm your options, your coach is there to listen.

If you need help with developing or editing your resumes and other correspondence so you can convey your skills successfully, your career coach is there to assist you. Interviews are where you showcase your skills effectively and a coach can help you with interview tips and role-plays. If you want to become more comfortable with networking and leveraging your existing contacts, your career coach can provide strategies for networking. If you want to stay on track and have support through all the stages of your budding career through landing your dream job, your coach will help keep you on track.

In closing, in this article we have covered what career coaching is, why one might choose to work with a coach, benefits of career coaching and insight into what the 21st century workplace looks like and how coaching can help you manage your career as you transition from college to the world of work. Here’s to your success!

Chris Bardwell Head of Career Connection

Chris Bardwell Head of Career Connection

Chris B. Bardwell is head of The Career Connection, a Chicago-based career development and consulting firm. Through this education and development organization, she consults with a variety of groups and individuals to identify opportunities for learning and development to enhance the experience and effectiveness of employees through coaching and training. She can be reached at , 312.203.7882 or write her at 910 West

Van Buren, Suite #166, Chicago, IL 60607.