According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 employment projections, Baltimore ranks 9th on the list of top 10 large metro areas for projected job growth between 2010-2020. The sectors expected to experience the strongest overall growth include construction, professional & business services, leisure & hospitality, and education & health services.
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How can current jobseekers and employees looking to further develop their careers position themselves for success? One investment that may pay dividends is working with a professional coach. Elizabeth Lilley, Chief Perspective Officer at Lawson Lilley, has over 20 years of experience as a professional career coach, business coach, strategic consultant, trainer and facilitator in the Baltimore area. Elizabeth shares some insights on her background and on the value of professional coaching.
Can you share some details of your personal background and how you started working as a professional coach?
I seem to naturally be an active listener, an ability I was able to develop in a variety of business roles as a consultant, business analyst, and manager. Colleagues would tend to gravitate to my desk to discuss and sort out personal and professional challenges. Over time, I learned that if I asked them the deeper questions, they were able to come to their own solutions. When I was faced with my own career transition, I learned more about coaching. It seemed like a perfect fit for me, so I became trained and certified.
What short- and long-term value can an individual gain from working with a coach?
In the short-term, one can begin to make immediate progress toward a goal by developing a clear vision and implementable strategy. A coach can draw out of you much more of what you want in life and work by helping you see the possibilities you either can’t see for yourself or may have limiting beliefs about. In the case of career coaching, this may or may not mean finding a new position. I’ve worked with clients who found that with a fresh perspective on their current roles and employers, they discovered that they were exactly where they needed to be to move toward their goals but with a plan in hand to more effectively manage their own careers. So, the long-term value, I think is in gaining the tools and self-knowledge to manage and own your own career choices going forward for a more fulfilling life.
What advice would you have for someone who is looking to position themselves for success in one of the growth sectors?
Well, I think it’s very important to be clear about why you want to work in a particular role and industry. If you can’t convince yourself of this, then you won’t be convincing in an interview or in networking conversations. Once you have a target position and industry, I’d proceed in this way:
- Take stock of your experience and abilities. This includes clearly articulating your accomplishments and relevant skills.
- Become clear on your personal brand – what you uniquely bring to each role you take on that differentiates you from others of similar background.
- Tell your own story – in print with your resume, online with your various profiles, and in-person through networking and ultimately a successful interview. While your messaging should be consistent wherever you tell your story, I don’t believe in having a memorized pitch. If you know yourself well and can own your accomplishments, you should be able to have an organic conversation based on who you’re speaking with.
- Have a consultant mindset. Rather than approach work and interviewing as an “employee”, think of yourself as a professional with experience that can bring a clear value to a “client” who has a particular challenge. Many of my clients have found this subtle shift to make a big difference in their careers.
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