Do you Need a Career Counselor, Coach, or Mentor?

by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLab®

Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your career, even if you’re always been highly successful by yourself. Early in my worklife I felt that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Now I believe asking for help can be a sign of great strength. Outsiders can often sharpen, focus, and expand one’s own ideas. And just because someone gives you advice doesn’t mean you have to take it. At times, I’ve done the opposite of what I was advised, often with very good results.

The world of work is so chaotic I sometimes wonder how anyone can survive the speedbumps without professional coaching. Here’s what I’ve seen recently:

1. Through no fault of their own, some executives in outplacement have been layed off              two, three, or even four times. Many managers are working scared.

2. Outsourcing is gaining momentum in the virtual corporation. One executive friend                  says half the employees in her company are contractors; she hardly recognizes                      anyone in the building.

3. An HR Director in a multinational high technology medical device manufacturing                    company says she brings in the Wall Street Journal and puts it on a pile of other                    unread books and magazines, her schedule is so busy.

Americans don’t like to pay for services, such as coaching or counseling. We like products: THINGS. When we spend money, we like to get someTHING we can see, feel, or touch: a mobile Phone, luxury car, or trek in Machu Picchu. We also like someTHING that gives us bragging rights.

You can’t touch services, they’re intangible. You can seldom brag about them, either. “I spent $1200 on financial planning” is far less sexy than “I spent $1200 on this new watch.” It might be time to think differently about career coaching: to see it as a long-term investment in your personal self-esteem and success—especially in times of uncertainty and high stress.

Take a moment to review your worklife. If you check one or more of boxes below, you may be in a crisis or at a turning point, and there’s a good chance you will benefit from the help of an experienced career coach, counselor, or mentor.

    • You dislike your boss, or your boss dislikes you.
    • You’re thinking about bailing out to start your own business or consultancy.
    • You’re taking work frustrations out on your family.
    • You’re having conflict with a boss, peer, subordinate, vendor, contractor, or customer—and you can’t resolve it.
    • You fear a cutback or layoff.
    • You’re overloaded with projects and the stress is affecting your health or personal relationships.
    • You’re unhappy at work, and no amount of vacationing will fix it.
    • You received a bad performance appraisal, you can’t get an appraisal, or you were fired for performance issues.
    • You were passed over for promotion; someone else got the job you wanted.
    • You’re paid significantly less than those in similar jobs in your field.
    • You routinely stay two or three years in a job, and then get asked to leave.
    • You’re suffering physical symptoms from stress: headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety, intestinal disorders, depression.
    • Key individuals in your organization lack integrity, or act illegally.
    • The work environment is chaotic, verbally abusive, hostile, or demeaning.
    • You no longer feel appreciated.
    • You feel like you’re chasing rabbits in an open field.
    • You have an unexpected interview and need a resume and interview training overnight.
    • Your company is big and bureaucratic, run by committee, and you don’t think you make a difference.
    • Your skills and expertise are becoming outdated.
    • The company wants to transfer you to Sri Lanka, or some other place you deem undesirable.
    • You feel it’s time to move on, but haven’t the foggiest notion where to begin.
    • You know you need to leave your company, but you’re scared to take action.
    • The politics in the place is driving you crazy.
    • You’re over 40, you’ve been laid off from a high-paying position, and you’re taking a beating in the job market.
    • Something is wrong, and you can’t put your finger on it.
    • You’re about to be fired.

If you checked one or more of the items above, you may be in a crisis or at a turning point, and there’s a good chance you might benefit from the help of an experienced career coach, counselor, or mentor.

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