5 Things I Learned from an Online Professional Career Coach

onlien career coach 5 Things I Learned from an Online Professional Career Coach

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Regulars, you’ll know that I recently saw a life coach, who helped me make changes to big-ticket areas of my life, such as my previously dismal savings account, my love life, and my (messy, always) home. I set some fairly lofty New Year’s resolutions this year, and in an effort to actually achieve them and generally be a successful adult, I’ve been working on them diligently ever since. And, seeing as the one thing we didn’t tackle during life-coach sessions was my career, I hunted down a job coach who could help me set some work-related goals and—hopefully—brainstorm ways to nail them in 2016.

It’s not so much that I’m looking for a giant work overhaul, but—after being in the same role for a year and a half—I wanted her thoughts on not only how I can work toward earning more money, become more skilled in my industry, and find a better work-life balance but also how to rekindle that new-job enthusiasm one feels in the first 12 months of a new gig.

I decided to book a coach through the Muse’s “Coach Connect” service, seeing as I obsessively read the career site anyway and trust it. After scrolling through a ton of coaches, I booked with Joy Lin, who specializes in working with professional women and had great reviews.

A 30-minute career Q&A phone call with Lin comes in at a pretty affordable $49 (sessions with my life coach were a whopping $400 an hour, for context), and she can also review your résumé and LinkedIn for $179 or help with a job-search strategy or networking strategy for $79 if you’re looking for a new job.

Before our chat, Lin asked me to complete the Myers-Briggs personality test (I’m ENTP) and another quiz that points out your strength and weaknesses to give her a deeper insight into what makes me tick and what I’m good at. If you’re stuck in a career rut, I recommend filling out both and reading your results—it might just be the introspection you need to switch careers or adjust the way you tackle problems at work.

Lin told me that the most common topic she gets approached for is planning a job change, but people also commonly want help balancing their passions with full-time work, crafting job application materials, and networking—all of which she’s an expert in.

I found her advice practical and actionable—kind of like talking to a very logical, knowledgeable, and completely objective friend—and was impressed with the level of insight she came armed with after just reading my personality test results. And, while a lot of what I learned was specific to my industry, I also asked her some questions that might help you too. Here’s what she told me.

If you’re bored at work, you’re probably becoming complacent.

Lin explained that one of the most common challenges she sees young professionals being faced with is that they’re no longer feeling challenged in their job. Sound familiar?  She said that coaching sessions made her realize—in most cases—that this happens because a person has forgotten to exercise and dedicate time to “building their confidence, perspective, and learning through other areas of their life.” She explained: “After spending years doing the same job, the mind gets dulled. Thus, it’s easy to feel stuck or to feel unconfident about pursuing a promotion or leadership position because you are trying to make decisions with the part of your mind that is used to routine.”

If you’re feeling this way and want to advance your career, she recommends pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on a daily basis at work, as well as with your passion projects and hobbies. “Join a group, do some volunteering, start a side project, explore your network, and learn more about your team,” she suggested, adding, “These actions will reconnect you with the initial goals you had set when you started the job, and you may realize it’s time to advance, ask for more responsibilities, look for other opportunities, or start your own thing.” 

Your résumé’s job history needs more detail.

If your CV currently lists the responsibilities you had in a previous job without any details on  how that work impacted the company or how it may relate to the jobs you’re now targeting, you’re doing it all wrong. “I encourage everyone to reread their résumé and think, ‘If I were the recruiter at [insert dream company], would my résumé be memorable and deliver all the transferrable accomplishments I’ve had?'” This is particularly true if you’re chasing a job title or industry change: “Your résumé needs to speak in the language of potential new employers. If a résumé doesn’t make sense and doesn’t automatically pique the recruiter’s interest with keywords and quantifiable results, it doesn’t make it into the next round,” Lin said.

If you want to earn more money, you must become more valuable.

When clients tell her that they want to earn more money at work, Lin advises them to determine how they can give more value to the industry or company they work for. “When the value you provide increases, you have leverage and quantifiable proof that your income can follow suit,” she said. If you’re not sure where to start, she said it’s a good idea to start learning from people who make the level of income you want to have, which can help you identify key traits that make their contributions valuable or unique. “Ask yourself: Do they go to the meetings that others won’t take? Do they have a skill set that you could obtain? Do they have a closely curated network?” Lin said.

Rewrite your LinkedIn summary before you start looking for a new job.

The summary section in your LinkedIn profile is apparently the best place to make yourself stand out and engage someone (such as a potential employer) with your voice. “I often find that many people don’t take enough time to craft a unique and memorable summary section, and instead I just see another version of their résumé,” Lin cautioned. She also suggests job seekers make an effort to ask contacts for recommendations on LinkedIn. “The job-searching ecosystem is all about relationships with people, and having more voices on your profile who can vouch for you and recommend you is so important,” she said. 

If you’ve fallen out of love with your job, you can fix it.

If clients are no longer in a role that used to be their dream job, Lin asks them to recall times in their career that they’ve felt most confident and “in flow” and work out exactly what is missing now that was present then. “When they look at their current situation through a mind-set of their most confident times, they can usually easily identify what attributes of their current job is missing or needs to be explored. Then, engagement brings clarity, and I advise them to engage with the communities or industries they’re curious about,” she said. This could involve reaching out to people outside their network, attending industry events, starting conversations with people, doing online research on companies and people. “Every step counts and leads to clarity,” she said.