Career Coaching: 9 Key Things I Tell Clients Looking for a New Career!

Happy Woman in Office with Colleagues for New Career Coaching

When I was coaching, I was often asked to coach people and help them find a new career. New career coaching is tough as there are rarely quick fixes and easy answers—but if we can manage our client's expectations, we usually get there in the end. Patience and dedication on behalf of both the coach and client is needed, and often a little client re-education too...

New career coaching to help someone find a new vocation can feel daunting, especially in these times of "Live your Passion!" when people's expectations are high.

There are 2 Big Issues I commonly see with Clients who want new career coaching

  • They want to find a *new* career and think that a few coaching sessions will 'deliver' them their 'ideal' job. Hey presto!
  • People are unhappy in their lives, and think that a *new* and meaningful job or career will 'fix' how they feel.

These beliefs get in the way of working with our clients effectively. For example, it can take 6-18 months just to find the 'perfect' new career. And if clients aren't living their values, are worried about the state of the world, or are in an unfulfilling long-term relationship, a new career alone isn't going to solve that issue.

So it's important to manage our clients expectations around what a new career will do for them.

Here are the 9 Key Things I tell my New Career Coaching Clients

1) It's going to take TIME, effort and a lot of soul-searching!

Of course our clients may be lucky and find the right career/job in their first coaching session, but it's unlikely.

First there will be hard work.

There will be coaching sessions, exploratory homework and actions like online research, informational interviews and volunteering. They'll need to identify their basic job requirements like working hours and flexibility, the type of people and industries they want to work with/in, pay levels etc.

And there will also be self-work to explore past dreams and passions, strengths and weaknesses, career values and what they will and won't tolerate in their work environment. They'll need to identify the skills they want to use—and develop, the type of culture they want to work in and much more.

And of course, this takes time...

2) Look within

The 'Perfect' job is not magically going to make them feel better if they are fundamentally dissatisfied with their life.

So, I let clients know we'll also work to discover who they really are and what they want from life.

Because even if the 'perfect' job or career pays well, uses their gifts, is 5 minutes from home, gives them 6 weeks off a year and helps people—it's not going to magically 'fix' their relationship, fears about the state of the world or other unhappiness. Although it may mask the underlying problems for a while...

3) Step up and take responsibility for how they feel

Many (most) people need to stay in their current job/career while looking for new opportunities. And this means they'll need to take responsibility for their happiness in their current work.

Desperation and unhappiness is how we rush into things and make mistakes. We want our clients to move to a new role or career from a position of strength.

We want our clients to be calm while doing this work, making the most of where they are right now. They can use this in-between time to get training, practice and hone transferable skills or learn interpersonal skills like conflict management, team-building, self-confidence etc.

And this may mean standing up to a boss or co-worker, asking for flexible hours, delegating tasks they don't enjoy, asking for help, moving departments and/or changing their attitude.

4) Be prepared for nay-sayers

As our new career coaching clients explore new avenues and try new things, people in their lives may feel threatened or be afraid for them.

So your clients will need to protect themselves against their nay-saying inner critic as well as friends, colleagues or family. They'll need to develop inner strength to follow their path no matter what others think. And the bigger the change they have in mind, the harder this will be.

5) Find meaning in LIFE not work

I also tell clients that we'll be looking for satisfaction and meaning outside of work too. This might mean better self-care, taking up hobbies, exploring passions, taking a course, travelling, volunteering or just having fun in general!

I had one client who decided to stay in a job they'd originally said they "despised". Here's what we did to make that happen:

  • They asked for a pay-rise (so they no longer felt under-valued and under-appreciated).
  • They spoke to their boss and shed some tasks they hated.
  • They created some self-time apart from their family obligations (to get to know themselves and for self-care).
  • They started a fun hobby on the side which helped local children.

Essentially we shifted how they saw their job: instead of needing their work to be meaningful, their job simply became a way to make money and pay the bills.

6) Learn to follow your intuition!

When choosing a new career, if our clients knew the answer (or if it was easy) they would have figured it out by now.

So, we need to help them learn to tap into, trust and follow their gut-feelings. Our intuition will point us to our passions, values and needs and let us know what new career ideas are—and aren't—a good fit.

7) Keep an open mind about the solution or outcome

Sometimes holding out for the perfect job that meets every last requirement is the right thing to do. But often, finding happiness at work is simpler than we think.

We need to feel valued, that we belong, to like our co-workers, to have the right amount of flexibility (work-life balance) and we need to be paid enough to live comfortably. And sometimes we can (with a few tweaks or requests) find that exactly where we are.

Also, when we lower our expectations about what work is supposed to provide (meaning, fulfilment, self-worth) and just look to get paid, enjoy ourselves and feel useful—there are many more possibilities out there.

And lastly, when we find work that matches our values, we will often happily compromise on other job "requirements".

So it's important to keep an open mind about the career solution...

8) Be alert for magic and synchronicity!

When new career coaching, we can ask questions and help clients identify all the criteria and requirements for a perfect job—but this doesn't make the perfect job or career materialise.

Sometimes there needs to be a little magic or synchronicity too. Like a client I had whose car broke down, was late for their annual appraisal at work, got chatting to someone at the bus-stop—who just happened to have the perfect next job for them.

9) Taking care of themselves has never been more important

When new career coaching, work-life balance is incredibly important. Clients will need to make time for themselves to be alone, to ponder—and they'll need energy to have ideas, do research and fight their gremlins.

So self-care becomes important. Ensure your clients get enough sleep, exercise, healthy eating, fun and alone-time.

If you liked this article on new career coaching, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Happy Client looking for a new career coaching by Ground Picture via Shutterstock

One Comment

  1. Alice Carroll

    Ever since my daughter graduated from college with an art degree she had been feeling very clueless on what kind of careers she should take afterwards. You made a good point that meaning should be found in life and not in work. Perhaps I should find a career path coach for her to explain to her that her worth as an artist would not be defined by the first job that she will be applying for.


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