Career Development

Maybe You Need a Coach

Paul Cecala - Career Coach

(Photo:  Paul Cecala presenting at the PMINJ Career Fair on October 18, 2019)

Maybe You Need a Coach

Are you feeling stuck in your career? Have you lost a sense of direction? Have circumstances changed in your job and you don’t know what to do now? Well, maybe you need a coach. Let me tell you have I have benefited from career coaching.

Why I Decided to Find a Career Coach

I had been unhappy at my job for quite some time. There had been several changes in the past decade: reorgs, layoffs, new managers, an acquisition, more new managers. With each successive event, I felt increasingly overlooked and frustrated. There’s only so long a person can stay in such a situation without its effects seeping into all areas of one’s life. Sooner or later, one has to take control and make changes for oneself.

So I decided to seek out a coach. I had been at the same company for over 20 years. I had not needed to write a resume in all that time. The effort to do so seemed monumental. Plus, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted for my career. I just knew that my “job” had become unbearable. Also, the thought of interviewing scared the bejesus out of me! For all these reasons, I took action toward finding a coach.

I had met Paul Cecala at a career fair in April 2019. His was one of several breakout sessions I attended. I was intrigued by his methods of deciding what position you wanted, what your target industry was, and what your target location was. I decided to give Paul a call. The conversation went like this:

Paul: “Hello, this is Paul.”

Sam: “HELP!!!!!”

Paul was the keynote speaker at the PMINJ Career Fair yesterday. Knowing he was around for the day was a boost to my confidence. We had had a few working sessions in recent months. I felt like I had my coach in my corner yesterday.

In this article on career coaching on Forbes.com, career coach Donna Sweidan answers the question, “What can the average person expect to get from working with a career coach?” with the following:

By and large, clients can reasonably expect to gain career confidence, insight, encouragement and inspiration.

Allow me to share how I have experience these four benefits of working with a career coach.

Career Confidence

While going over my resume with a coach, to hear him say, “You’ve accomplished some great things,” was a huge boost to my confidence. Having someone look at my skills and achievements objectively helped me to better evaluate what I have to offer. This has helped me to square my shoulders and have courage when interacting with my peers. I have been walking into rooms knowing the value I bring. Lest I seem too braggadocious, I also know my weaknesses and the amount of work I need to do to improve. But knowing that contributes to my confidence. There may be a lot of unknowns when I walk into a room, but I know myself better.

Insight

Knowing myself better is part of the insight I have gained by working with a career coach. I have also gained insight about the following and more:

  • IT job market in my area
  • How to better format my resume
  • How to properly emphasize results on my resume
  • What key questions to ask at the end of an interview
  • How to connect with hiring managers

Inspiration

What’s more inspiring than seeing your coach deliver a keynote presentation to a full house at a PMI career fair! End the blog post right here, Snyder!

In addition to bringing inspiration by their own success, a career coach also inspires you with stories of the success of others. You get a sense that you are not alone. You grow to think, If others succeeded in similar situations, so can I! As you explore the world of work around you, you find continued sources of inspiration. A career coach can spark this process.

Encouragement

I intentionally addressed these benefits out of order from the above quote in order to wrap up with a fresh story about a way in which my coach’s encouragement paid.

As you work with a good career coach, you should expect encouragement along your journey. As you struggle to write your resume, practice your elevator speech, prepare for an interview, a good coach will press you to step out of your comfort zone AND cheer you on as you do so. When you’re discouraged or have setbacks, they will lift you up with objectivity and good strategy.

Payoff

As I said, I saved encouragement for last to end with a story.

Paul and I had a few minutes to chat during the lunch break yesterday. Paul asked how things were going and I told him I’ve had four interviews for a Scrum Master position over the past six weeks, for which he had helped me prepare. I said it had been a few weeks since the last interview. I was awaiting the hiring manager’s decision. Now that it was Friday, I was hoping to hear something next week.

Paul advised me to follow up with an email stating, “If there’s anything about my experience which I can clarify for you to help you make your decision on the best candidate for the position, I would be happy to provide that.” I sent that email from my phone during lunch. (“Also, dear manager, as an addition to my resume, please note that since my last interview I achieved the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner designation.”)

It was 5:40 PM yesterday, after working hours on a Friday, when my phone rang and the hiring managers name appeared on my screen. I was in the middle of a noisy children’s play place with my wife and two-year-old child, of all places! I scurried out to a quiet spot to take the call.

Manager: “Hello, Sam. I got your email this afternoon.”

Sam (disguising eager nervousness): “Oh yes. It’s good to hear from you.”

Manager: “I’m calling to say we would love to have you join our team as a Scrum Master. HR will be in touch next week with the details. I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer.”

Sam (while fist pumping): “Great! I appreciate the call and I’m eager to get busy!”

I rushed back in to tell me wife the good news.

Then I rushed back out to make another call:

Sam: “Hello, Paul! Guess what!”

I would not have gotten this far this quickly without the help of my coach.

2 thoughts on “Maybe You Need a Coach”

  1. How inspiring to me as your coach to read this. What an honor to have had played a part in your success. More importantly, you nailed it with explaining why having your own coach in your corner is so critical for your career success. Just remember, a coach is just that, the mentor, cheerleader and adviser. You are the star athlete that does the work and MAKES it work.

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