Would you eat junk Food at the gym?

This Article: « Outplacement Firms Struggles to Do Job » published in 2009 in The Wall Street Journal is, believe me or not, still true nowadays. Nothing has changed. That is why I would like to debrief deeply about this interesting article, and tell you what makes Mankesav different…

The article starts with satisfaction, and the time needed to find a position. As a Career Coach, our first responsibility is to be clear with what we will be doing with the people your work with. For me, I never say that people will find a job in one month, two month or even one year. Because, of course, it depends first on the job market. If you want to find a job in Greece, Spain or France nowadays, good luck! You will have to compete thousands of other applicants, and even if you have the best job-search tools, remember that behind the job boards there are human-beings. And those humans won’t necessarily reckon your outstanding profile, either because their mental framework of “matching the position” is not yours, or (sometimes) basically because some of them are not very competent… So, the first thing is to accept that recruitment is not an exact science. If it were, there would not be HR services, but only computers.

The second, and main point as for me, is your own personality when it comes to looking for a job. I always compare my job of a Career-Coach to the job of a Fitness-Coach. Let’s go to it by a little story: You decide that you are too fat, or you want to gain muscles, or prepare to run a Marathon. You enroll to a gym, buy the fancy apparel, and decide to hire a Fitness-Coach to help you doing so. There comes the first session, and… You sit on a bench, unpack your Lays, Mc Donald’s and Coca-Cola, start eating them and tell your coach: “Ok, now you train, and I will lose the fat!”

Do you find it funny but stupid? Me too. Though, in my job, I have crossed hundreds of people asking me: “will you find me a job?”, to which I always answer now by this story. What I mean is that, I agree: a good fitness coach doesn’t just give you a paper to tell you what you have to do, then get your money, then leaves. A good fitness coach is there to co-program your training, depending on your agenda, constraints, following the waves of your motivation, helps to work your *** out, get the best of you. But you do the efforts, mainly. So, will I find you a job? No. WE will find you a job. And we will do even better: we will find you a career that will make your life better. The thing is that if you don’t do anything of what I suggest to do, explaining you why and how, then, we will fail. If you don’t train at the gym properly, and if you go to a junk-food provider just after every of your gym sessions and eat twice the amount of calories you just spent, you will never lose your fat, get muscles, or get back to fit. So, remember, your attitude is important, and you have to fit it with your local employment market.

Third and last thing for today: know yourself. The first thing I work with the persons I coach is their awareness of their own personality, based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which enables to question their clarity regarding to their preferences and how to apply them at work. This is fundamental: we are all impacted by what is commonly considered as a good job or a good career. But you can have spent your last 20 years in a job which was not meant for you. That is a factor leading to burn-outs, bore-outs, and lose your path. Many people need to do some re-calibration and get back on tracks to what they do the best with a better well-being. I deeply believe that many of us just unconsciously screw up some application, because we know instinctively that this is not for us. Once we have spent a little of time, usually one week, to discuss and adjust this very specific point, then we can start working on “finding a job”. And lots of canned outplacement programs fail, because this fundamental is not treated properly.

Find the Career Coach Who’s Right for You

When you’re in the midst of a mid-career crisis or professional reinvention, the right career coach can be a lifesaver, helping you identify potential future directions and the path to reach them. But how do you find the right one? As an unregulated industry, anyone can hang a shingle and declare themselves a “career coach,” an “executive coach,” or even a “life coach.” Some are talented and knowledgeable, and others not so much. Since writing Reinventing You, I’ve often been asked for recommendations about hiring a career coach. Here’s the advice I give.

Understand when you need to reach out. Because it can be complex to hire a career coach (How do I know who’s good? What if it’s a waste of money?), many people delay the process until they reach a breaking point — they’ve lost their job, or they’re so miserable at their current one, they’re on the brink of quitting. But as with most things, preventative measures are best, and you’re far better off speaking with someone before you’re overwhelmed and desperate.

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to hire someone yet, do some investigating. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues, scour blogs and do research online (because thanks to Skype, the coach you hire doesn’t need to be local), and create a timeline for yourself. If you don’t have time in your life now to explore work with a career coach, when will you? After tax season? In six months, after the new product launch? Make a firm commitment to revisit it down the line.

And keep in mind that if you’re facing a broader upheaval in your life, you may want to consider seeing a therapist (which will often be covered by insurance), rather than a career coach, which won’t.

Identify what you want to learn. Because coaches come from such widely divergent backgrounds, they have different skills and insights to offer you. If you want to make the right choice, identify upfront what you’d like to learn from the experience. If you’re feeling dissatisfaction with your professional life, start by combing the aisles of your bookstore; a variety of career books such as What Should I Do With My Life? or How Will You Measure Your Life? can help you ascertain the broad themes you’d like to explore, so your work with a coach can be more targeted.

If you want to understand how to navigate office politics better, you may want to consider hiring a coach who has personal familiarity with corporate life, so she’s speaking from experience rather than theory. Other coaches specialize in particular types of transitions, such as guiding people toward nonprofit or socially meaningful careers, or work with specific demographic groups. I even know one woman who bills herself as a “Workplace Cancer and Disease Crisis Coach.

Give them a test drive. Ten or 15 years ago, you would have had to vet your coach through a personal meeting or phone call, and perhaps by talking with their past clients. That’s still a good idea, but today you have another tool in your arsenal. Legitimate professionals have embraced content creation, including blogging, podcasting, videoblogging, and more. Almost every coach will have a “paper trail” allowing you to see for yourself the kinds of issues they’re writing and thinking about, how they approach the situation, and their personal style. You may be drawn to someone with a more reserved and serious style, or want an encouraging cheerleader. By consuming their content in advance, you can make an informed choice about whether you’ll “click” professionally.

Recognize it’s not forever. As you grow professionally, your challenges will evolve over the years. Today, you may be looking for help finding your true passion or making a career change; in 10 or 20 years, your goal may be a fulfilling second act in retirement. It’s important to recognize that different coaches may be uniquely suited to help you at different phases.

When I first started my consulting business, I devoured the works of one author whose approach I found particularly salient, and even paid to participate in various in-person workshops and a mentor program. His advice on starting and setting up a business was invaluable, but became less relevant as I fixed my sights on bigger goals and began to be able to predict exactly what he’d say. Today, I’m focused on learning from those who have already excelled at my next targets, such as writing a bestselling book and dramatically expanding my email list. Any decision you make to work with someone is revocable if it’s not working or if you outgrow the approach; by staying in touch with your goals, you can adjust accordingly.

It can be difficult to navigate a professional reinvention on your own. A good career coach can save you countless hours of frustration by sharing best practices with you and helping you avoid common pitfalls as you transition. But finding the right one makes all the difference.