The new year brings an opportunity to reset and reflect on what you hope to achieve in 2022. If you have yet to write out your new year’s resolutions for your professional life, think about whether this is the time to invest in a career coach – and ultimately, invest in yourself.
As we collectively navigate the third year of the pandemic, it can feel natural to trade setting professional development goals for stamina to get through the next day, and that’s okay. Take this moment at the start of the year to reflect on your intention for 2022 with fresh eyes. Whether you’re looking to make a significant career change or develop a specific skill, taking on a big promotion, navigating burnout, feeling lost or unchallenged, a career coach can give you direction and help you forge the path to your next step .
Six months ago, I had my first session with my career coach. After earning a post-restructure promotion at my midsize company during the first lockdown, I was keen to build leadership skills, develop senior stakeholder management and face my imposter syndrome head on. In my new capacity, I would grow from managing just one member of staff to building out a content marketing function of twelve full time employees – my first time leading such a big team and reporting directly into C-suite. With high hopes and even higher expectations from my colleagues and most of all myself, I knew I needed more support. After a few friends and peers told me about their positive experiences with executive coaching and mentoring, I decided to try it out myself.
My personal experience with career coaching was, in a word, transformative. I never before had such dedicated time to talk about my professional self in depth and explore my passions, my flaws, my ambitions, my values and my goals. From week to week, my coach allowed me the space to steer our sessions based on what I wanted to focus on or was struggling with, whilst offering structure, thought-provoking questions, counsel and resources – and most importantly for me, a listening ear. I began to think of our monthly sessions as time I was investing in myself, and then almost immediately, investing back into those around me: my line reports, my peers and my manager.
With study after study reporting the systemic disadvantages, pay gaps and lack of representation affecting women in the modern workplace, it’s especially important to support and invest in your own professional development, whether through coaching, mentorship or networking.
"My personal experience with career coaching was, in a word, transformative. I never before had such dedicated time to talk about my professional self in depth and explore my passions, my flaws, my ambitions, my values and my goals."
If you’re thinking about working with a career coach, here’s my advice.
1. Fit comes first: It’s crucial to have the right fit with your coach. Many professional coaches offer free chemistry sessions or consultations as a first meeting to discuss your goals, their specialty and how you might be able to work together. Ask questions to get a good understanding of the coach’s skill and experience and how it might fit what you’re looking for and be sure their personality and vibes are a good match for your own.
2. Be committed and consistent: Once you find the right coach, dedicate yourself to the experience. Ensure you keep your appointments, do the homework and come prepared to every session. You’ll get much more out of your sessions, and so will your coach, if you commit yourself to the work and take it seriously.
3. Start here: AllBright’s digital community is filled with friendly and passionate personal and career coaches. Drop a note on AllBright Digital to connect with the sisterhood.
Here’s what a few AllBright members who work as career coaches had to say:
“Coaching gives you the space to see yourself and others more clearly, learn new ways of tackling complex challenges, leverage your strengths and those of others, build more productive relationships and ultimately achieve your goals, your career ambitions and fulfil your purpose.” –Zara Bates
“Professional coaching is hugely beneficial for women as it helps you to explore alternative perspectives about what is possible for you – not just today, but throughout your future.” –Rachel Gilfrin
“Coaching provides us with an opportunity in a trusted safe space to design, reimagine and explore our professional world. It’s a space in which you can become curious about yourself.” –Yvette Janse van Rensburg
“When you're self-employed, it's hard to keep pushing yourself and review your progress, the way a manager would in a traditional job. A coach can fill in that gap of support and hold space for you to really look at your progress, goal setting and fulfilment at work.” –Angelica Malin
“Coaching offers a judgment-free, unbiased space to stop and think out loud, which is usually where our best thinking is done. It's an opportunity we rarely offer ourselves.” –Keren Blackmore
“Our professional selves don't live in silo. Exploring our relationships, confidence and purpose hugely affects the way we view our careers and personal lives.” –Jessica Stephenson Clarke
“Coaching helps women in two very specific ways that add so much value to their lives: learning to focus on long-term goals and increasing their confidence.” –Chris Melville
“Having a professional coach enables you to identify your unhelpful beliefs that might be holding you back from achieving professional success, whether that is better connections with colleagues or leadership goals.” –Gemma Rabbini
“Coaching helps you to identify the root beliefs you hold about the world, people and yourself, which impact the thoughts you have, the behaviours and actions you take – and subsequently the results you get!” –Charlotte Crabtree
“The coaching relationship is unique in that it offers a mirror to the client, allowing them to view their thoughts, beliefs and behaviours from another angle and then to acknowledge conscious choice.” –Lindsey Eynon
“Coaching can be very helpful to help women overcome self-created hurdles as well as to have confidence that they can achieve the desired position by taking action in the right direction.” –Navjeet Grewal