Executive and career coaches are becoming more popular by the day and rightly so, you need someone to give you an outside perspective on where you are and what you want to do, also you want to look at developing skills and essentially, to keep yourself marketable in the 21st century.
Career coaching services
I have my own perspective on career coaching and it is somewhat of a hybrid between a recruiter, whose job it is to find you a job and a coach in the sense of someone who is looking to help you improve career wise.
As an entrepreneur of over thirty-five years, I have learned to simplify everything and especially in the world of careers, as my main business was providing highly skilled staff to the mobile telecommunications industry although I have worked in other sectors.
I believe that the Internet-driven economy today, is opening up opportunities like never before, but also on the flip side, we are over-complications things and adding unnecessary layers simply because some people can make a market by doing so and when you create a market, you are looking mainly at a financial gain!
Career and Executive coaching have grown massively over the years and it is an industry I am passionate about, but also one I have several concerns over.
There are simply too many people jumping on the coaching “bandwagon” and some of these people have no business in the world of business, let alone purporting to be a coach.
My aim is to offer clear, simple and immediately actionable advice, for all parties concerned having come from a business background where I have had to deal with real-world situations, some of which would have flattened the most seasoned of entrepreneurs and businessmen.
Everything for me is interconnected and people are the driving force of industry at least for the time being, so we must maximize the value of people.
I am a firm believer that the “candidate” is king and the job market will be dependent upon hiring talented individuals who are in the top twenty percent of the global talent pool.
My aim in the career coaching sense is simply to help people get there, but I want people to take control and become their own career coach, as I hate dependency in any sense of the word.
Sure, you may need outside help from time-to-time and that is for the reason that you need an outside perspective.
Some career coaches will have a series of meetings with their clients to look at each and every aspect of their current situation and make recommendations as to how to improve and this is one dimension of coaching, but there is a lot more to it, in my opinion.
How Can A Personal Career Coach Help
I will open with a bold statement and that is for you to forget the term “career.”
In my opinion, we are entering a world of what people term the “gig economy,” but what I like to call a “virtual workforce” – one that is available on-demand anytime, anywhere.
It’s something I foresaw in the development of mobile technology and de-regulation around the globe starting more than twenty years ago.
There is no “career” as such and whilst you still have “professions” such as medical, legal, financial and others, we are facing a world of increasing automation powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
It is not, however, a world we should be frightened of and at least in my opinion.
Rather we should embrace it and work with the opportunities it presents and affords.
The other or opposing side to AI is Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Machines are not good at emotion (at least today) and EQ can be considered the human or “soft” qualities of an individual as opposed to their technical or “hard” ones.
What I also want you to consider is that you are a huge corporation of your own – you are your own “enterprise” and I am passionate about helping to discover, grow and maximize the opportunities of the “enterprise of you!”
For over thirty-five years I have been refining and defining the factors and component parts of what makes up the most successful individual enterprise and I have made a living out of it when I owned my own global staffing company.
My specialty is to work with an individual to uncover the hidden values that are deep within them and to then make them more profitable.
I have used these strategies to find incredible opportunities for people who were seriously undervalued and have also created jobs in organizations that didn’t exist, by simply connecting people at the right level and having them articulate what I term, the Unique Value Proposition.
This is why you need a career coach!
Not Any Coach, However…
The coaching world, however, is saturated by people and claims that to me, are simply untrue and it is easy to be sucked into a nicely worded advert or video by someone who has little credentials and ambitions that serve to part you with your money.
You hire a coach for several reasons but the main one is to get you from where you are to where you want to be, just like your favorite soccer or football team that wants to win this year’s league or super bowl – you don’t hire a coach to fail!
You may also want that coach to act as a “sounding board” and someone who you can simply “vent” to. Whatever the case, you need that coach to be experienced and who can “sit in your shoes” from the perspective of having once been in them.
Given the importance of building your own “empire” doesn’t it make sense to have someone who is impartial, but dedicated to your success, right beside you?
Think more in terms of a sportsman, actor or actress having an agent – that agent will be contracted to the artist and has a duty and responsibility to do their best for them.
Sadly we live in a world that is not straightforward and it applies to the agency world more than others, as there are many agents who are simply looking to line their pockets.
But the right agent, with the right motivation, can be a godsend to anyone they represent. They bring a sense of “commercial awareness” to the talent of the individual they represent and have no fear in standing firm when it comes down to delicate negotiations.
They will also work with their client and get to know deep down, what their “drivers” and desires are and will represent them without any bias to cost or opportunity.
I will now go back to using the word “career”, as you are familiar with it and in relation to how you want to maximize your career and get the most return for your efforts.
Just search “career coaching” and look at the results – there are so many people offering services and at face value, they look attractive and are certainly worth further investigation.
But for the moment, let’s simplify things and look at the commercial world.
You have entrepreneurs, like myself, who are creative and opportunistic and on the other side of the coin, you have MBA businesspeople that occupy the ranks of the corporate world.
As in life, nothing is black and white and take me for example – I am very familiar with corporate culture and how people work in it – simply because I have worked with some of the worlds leading companies, to recruit key staff for over thirty–five years, but I am an entrepreneur at heart.
Many of my clients were entrepreneurs also, but were “trapped” in what they felt was a rigid corporate world, but at least they were able to think like an entrepreneur as much as I would have to think like a corporate executive when building and running my business.
So there is a huge amount of common ground between the two sides and me for example, always promote entrepreneurial thinking in everything that I do and specifically when I am giving career advice.
Every corporation has the same goals – success and profits and among others of course, but each employee must be contributing to that success and some people seriously overcomplicate their job roles and forget the true purpose.
So I offer some words of advice to you right now – whatever your job (and I really do mean whatever), you must start to think about how you are impacting the bottom line.
If you are a receptionist for example, then you will understand that first impressions count and you are in effect, the CEO of first impressions.
A friendly, helpful receptionist is a godsend to a company and can make all the difference.
If you are interviewing for a receptionist role, then think about how you can make that difference and talk about the qualities you possess to do so.
To me, the best career coaches will have run a business; they will understand the commercial commitments of companies and the fact that people have to deliver them.
They will also look at each person as a “business within himself or herself” and be able to rapidly drill down and extract the real and true value of the person, and then they will be able to motivate that person to deliver far and beyond expectation.
It is all about uncovering and understanding the true value of everything.
This leads me nicely into the next section…
What Is Your True Value?
I have spent my entire recruiting career working essentially, “the other way round.”
Instead of phoning companies with the usual sales pitch – “have you got any vacancies,” I used to focus intently on the candidate and find a company that I felt was the best fit for them.
It was a refreshing change and not something I thought about myself, but what was taught to me by one of my recruiting mentors, Debbie Wardale.
Debbie used to spend so much time with candidates, getting to know them and digging deep into their C.V/Resume, looking for each and every aspect that could add value to a potential employer.
Let’s say for example, that someone was the school captain of their soccer team, or simply played soccer to a high standard.
Most people will dismiss this fact and simply say “so what,” without realizing the qualities that have been developed as a bi-product.
Self-discipline, teamwork, creativity, and commitment are words that are routinely thrown all over a C.V., but rarely have any tangible evidence attached to them.
I remember sitting down with one hiring Vice President of an International organization telling me that he is always looking for an “edge” and any edge will do.
He was actually living and working in the US, so for him it was all about football, USA style, and he would look for people who had been “in the system,” so to speak, but hadn’t quite made it – for him, they had qualities that could be built upon and would form the basis of success in his division of the organization.
The same of course, could apply to any skill, hobby or interest – it is simply a matter of seeing “hidden” qualities and developing them.
Under Debbie’s guidance, I learned to do the same and eventually, it became the benchmark standard of my company and any recruiter who worked for me.
The real point of this exercise was to work out the true value of the individual and then put together a list of target companies that could best use, develop and challenge their skills and of course, get the best financial deal.
One of the first questions I would ask is “how much money do you want?” the reply would always be met with a simple confirmation and then, if the request was higher than the market rate, I would ask the question as to why the person was looking for compensation outside of the normal rate.
Many people could not justify it more than saying, “because I am worth it” and that is where I would come in, dig deep and work some magic to prove the worth!
Your true value will be far more than your salary if you can present and market yourself correctly, or better still, have someone do it for you.
Although I am a firm believer in taking control of your own “enterprise,” there are times when a third-party can represent you better than yourself.
That is precisely why I hired a PR agency when I was looking to build my personal brand and under the direction of Niki Wheeler, I went from being an unknown recruiter to being featured in the International press, radio, and television.
I am not suggesting you do the same, but a good career coach should help you put the pieces in place to build your reputation.
Creating A Career Coaching Strategy
We have talked about the fact that you are your own individual and important enterprise and now it is time to look deeper and create a strategy to make sure that you get the results you deserve.
Your career coach should spend time developing an initial three-point and simple strategy covering:
- Where you are right now, how you got there and what you are achieving relative to your goals
- What you can do to improve and where that improvement will take you
- What are the opportunities for the “open market” and how you can prepare for them
This is a simplistic approach and I love to keep things simple – so forget all of the fancy tools that people will sucker you into and work with common sense.
Many of the large corporations that used to use personal evaluation tools have now ditched them, as anyone can learn to beat them.
Remember it is about where you are and where you want to go – it is that simple.
Career coaches will help you create that strategy and your strategy should be “ever-evolving” and never stationary – the economic world of today is extremely dynamic and requires equally dynamic individuals.
A good career coach will be displaying this quality naturally and they should be able to confidently “connect the dots,” so to speak between global geopolitical, economic and industry-specific issues with your career.
It is their ability to see and constantly refine the “big picture” that provides great value to you through every step of your career and to ensure you are taking the right steps to maximize your success.
I have spoken with many people who have had career coaching and have clear, tangible action plans to implement the discussions, strategies and actions they have been subjected to.
I have equally heard many horror stories.
I am someone who implements!
We can talk, strategize and theorize all day, but at the end of that day, something must be done.
You must think the same and let’s again keep things simple.
What are the aspects of your career that you are unhappy with? What are the areas you need and want to improve? And what steps do you want to take to improve your career and does that involve making a change?
Ideas are fantastic, but it is the execution that matters.
I was coaching someone who was working in a very high-pressured environment and wanted a change. I asked them about the pressure of the environment, is the reason for that change and the response was “no.”
Digging deeper, she wanted to pursue a career in sales, but the current sales manager had refused her requests for a chance because in his opinion, she was not suited to being a salesperson.
Now sales is one of my specialties and I have recruited and trained hundreds of very successful salespeople over the years and once I heard about this lady’s desire to embark on a sales career, I asked her the question as to why she wanted to work in sales.
The answer was that she loved pressure, she loved the challenge and finally, she talked about money.
“Fair enough,” was my response and then I started to drill down deep into her background and found out that she was very analytical, loved fact-based arguments and would fight her corner vociferously if she believed she was right.
A perfect sales candidate in my opinion and to cut a long story short, she circumvented the sales manager and went into the CEO with a presentation we created as to how she would approach the customers of the company and the value proposition she would offer to them.
The CEO hired her on the spot and I will now talk about the fear that many executives have and that is to have people working for them who are better than them.
I teach everyone that I coach to always leave your ego aside and hire people who are not just better than you, but way better.
It is your duty to do so if you work for a company because your company needs to grow and prosper and it needs talented people to do so.
You need career coaching to maximize your opportunities in today’s volatile and uncertain economy, but it must be someone who is extremely commercially aware.
A good career coach will maximize the value of the most important enterprise of all and that is the “enterprise of you.”
You must aspire to be in the top twenty percent of the global talent pool, no matter what your skillset involves and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the driver of that aspiration.
Work out how you got to the position you are in today and where you want to go, equally addressing the improvements you need/want to make right now and also, prepare for a change of company and maybe a change of career.
Create a dynamic and continually evolving strategy that you believe wholeheartedly in.
Finally, make sure you take the steps to implement that strategy and not just leave it on a PowerPoint presentation or spreadsheet.
Actions are more important than words!
Neil Franklin is an award-winning entrepreneur in the United Kingdom. “Neil is a twice winner of the Sunday Times “Virgin Atlantic” Fast Track 100, fastest growing UK businesses in 2000 and 2001. To date, Neil is the only person to achieve this “double.” Neil is also a High-Performance Business And Career Coach, helping new business startups grow fast profitably.