Have you ever been sitting in church, singing your heart out only to hear the guy behind you singing two notes behind you? Distracting, right? This happened to me recently and I found that I had to fight the giggles during what is normally a very respectful moment simply because the little old man behind me was singing at his own pace.
I was reminded of this problem as I was working with one of my outplacement candidates earlier this week. Through this particular person's outplacement program, we solicit regular feedback on their level of satisfaction with the process. Outplacement candidates can elect to share the feedback with their coach or keep it confidential. This particular candidate decided to share her feedback with me. It was mostly positive, but also pointed out some areas where she would like us to improve our shared performance. In our next conversation, I thanked her for her candor as I truly believe that there is a direct correlation between the level of candor between coach/candidate and the effectiveness of a candidate's search program. Her (paraphrased) comment back to me solidified a like philosophy: In working with a job search coach or mentor-honesty is always the best policy.
This conversation led me to some additional thoughts about other experiences that I have had through the course of my coaching in both professional and volunteer situations. So many job seekers are so uncomfortable about the side effects of being in job transition that they continue to put on a brave face when talking with anyone about it. Often times, this "whitewash" approach includes their support team. Hopefully everyone has some type of support structure during job transition whether it's paid or volunteer. With that in mind, here are a few "be's" in making sure that you get the most out of the relationship:
1) Be honest: If your needs have changed, or your coach is off base with her or her coaching-don't keep it in! Most professional job search coaches have confidentiality agreements that prohibit them from sharing the nitty gritty details of your search with the sponsoring company. As a result, if you are holding back because you are worried that your former employer is going to learn things about your search that you don't want them to know-you are probably worrying for nothing. Not sure? Just ask! For those of you who are working with a coach who is actually part of your friend network, remember that communication challenges in the job search process between the two of you might not just hurt your job search-it may hurt your friendship.
2) Be present: As someone who has done both professional and volunteer job search coaching, I can absolutely attest to the fact that there are times in anyone's search where you will be "phoning it in." One of my friends (who ironically is a recruiter) asks me to find her a job every single time I talk to her. I've given her leads, referrals, resume revisions, etc. She has never taken action on any item. I know that she's paralyzed by a deep dissatisfaction with her job, but there just comes a point where as her coach, I have decided that until she is going to take action, I'm done. Ultimately, I think that being disconnected from your job search is pretty natural, especially when you consider the concept that losing a job is like losing a loved one. There are stages of grief that someone needs to go through before being ready to move on. However, if your disappointment/depression leads you to be less involved in your job search than your coach, you have a problem. Talk to your coach about actions that you can take to bring you back to the driver's seat. No one knows your needs better than you!
3) Be mindful: Whether you are working with a coach who is a friend, or a coach who is a paid resource, be mindful of the fact that this person is another networking contact. While I don't believe that you have to mince words with your coach, I do believe that you should keep in mind that this person may have contacts that can lead you to your next job. Targeting a particular company? Ask your coach if he/she has contacts. Trying to find a recruiter? Maybe your coach knows someone. Looking to network with other professionals who have gone from looking to landed? If you have a good coach they should have some other candidates that you can network with-ask if that is an option.
Have other best practices for getting the most out of your coach relationship? I'd love to hear them! Let's put DFW back to work!