By Lucy Njiruh
It is said that whoever does not work, should not eat, therefore work becomes an essential element of our existence. We spend at least one third of our life working to earn a living therefore it makes sense that we should ensure that we enjoy what we are doing. Career coaching helps one to plan and navigate their careers to make the most of their productive years. With effective career coaching, one can enjoy their work, indeed never feel like they are working and can continue to do what they like for the rest of their lives. However, most people launch into their career with no clear indication of what they wish to achieve and stay in unsatisfactory jobs simply because they do not know how to make the change that will lead to better work enjoyment.
A career coach is a skilled professional who is sounding board for one’s ideas, but is not a counselor and neither are they a mentor unless they are requested to perform this role. There are at least five good reasons to engage a career coach at any stage in one’s journey.
Know what one wants
A career coach helps a person to discover who they are and what they want for their working life. This is the first step to career satisfaction and success. We are programmed to get jobs in order to survive and while this is crucial, it does not explain why so many are in high income jobs yet so unhappy. A career coach helps one understand their personal values and passion and identify ways in which their working life can satisfy these.
While most people globally do not have their dream job as their first job, career coaching helps one discover how to obtain their goals either in their current job or how to create or join an organization that will get them where they wish to be. A job that is in tandem with an individual’s values and passion is enjoyable and one achieves their targets with less strain.
Deliberate approach to career
Career coaching helps one make a personal plan and set SMART goals. With achievable time bound goals more can be achieved much quicker. A coach will help one visualize the end result of their working life and make a plan on how to achieve the vision in the intervening years. An employee who has not developed a personal career plan falls victim to looking forward to bonus cheques and annual increments likely at the discretion of the employer.
Well written goals and a clear plan help an individual quickly reengineer themselves when the environment demands it so that external changes do not derail their overall plans. The current COVID pandemic for instance, has led to job redundancies and we have witnessed high value vehicles turned to mobile groceries on our roads. It requires an individual with clear focus on what they wish to achieve in their working life to make such an adjustment in occupation.
Career coaching encourages one to find and maintain an accountability partner who will keep them in check, ensuring that they stick to their plan or modify it to better achieve their goals.
Ability to effectively communicate one’s needs
A career coach works with an individual to develop their personal brand and know how best to communicate it in their curriculum vitae, by their dressing and speech and by how they behave.
Effectively communicating goals to employers, identifying job situations that do not meet their personal plan and seeking opportunities more suited to them save an individual a lot of time that would be otherwise wasted in opportunities that do not help them achieve their goals. A career coach helps a person prepare for interviews and job appraisals so that they are confident and can clearly articulate what they can offer and what they expect from the job opportunity. A candidate with a clear vision and purpose is indicative of high value proposition for an organization and becomes quite attractive to potential employers.
A strong personal brand makes it easier for individuals and organisations to discern how to work with and place a person. It is this quality that makes some individuals highly sort after in the job market and able to command higher pay than their counterparts. They are also likely to find themselves promoted or given diversified tasks that make their job more interesting, while helping them achieve their personal goals, within their organization.
Establishing one’s network
Career coaching recognizes that a successful career is built by connecting with and working with others. One’s network is a valuable asset in progressing a satisfactory career path by linking a person with the right people, with the right information, connections and opportunities. With the help of a career coach an individual will identify people and organisations that will help them meet their goals and implement a plan to successfully pursue and optimize these relationships.
Dexterity in meeting family and life’s responsibilities
While life coaching and career coaching are separate disciplines, they are also inexplicably intertwined. In Africa, one’s career is as important to them as it is to their nuclear and extended families as the individual is expected to support siblings, parents and the community at large. Such responsibilities influence the choices one makes in their career. There are many in our country who have had to forego further education and take on jobs at the earliest opportunity because their family is dependent on their income. A career coach becomes a sounding board to help one determine how they can manage their career satisfactorily while meeting the needs of their dependents and also how to bring back on track a career that started on such a premise. It will enable women plan their career around their childbearing years and men how to run their careers to support their partners in these years. A career coach will assist one to consider how far they can accommodate such external influences on their career path and to ensure that they do not become deviated from their personal goals. Ultimately, a coach will assist one in retirement and succession planning, inheritance and wealth distribution so that all they have worked for in their career is managed well by their dependents who in turn become their caretakers in old age.
Career coaching is a relatively new discipline in the Kenya market but one that adds great value to both employees and employers by helping each make the right match for their goals leading to optimum performance and productivity. With the help of a career coach, one never needs to stop being productive as they will continuously discover new ways to fulfil their lives by engaging in activities that match their passion and drive.
Lucy Njiruh is a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (FCII) and Certified Career Coach.