Interview: What’s a Career Coach & How Can One Help You?
By Lisa Virtue
Have you ever heard of a career coach? How can one help you? We asked our mom-members: What would you like to know? And then we sat down with Lisa Virtue of Lisa Virtue Coaching to get some answers. Whether you’re at a career crossroads or you’re looking to enter (or re-enter) the workforce, a career coach might be a great option.
While the pandemic decimated moms, and many of our careers, setting us back personally and professionally, we’re starting to gather the pieces for the future. Now is the perfect time for a change. Whether you’ve wanted to try something different or you’re looking to get out of a rut, moms need to start putting their needs and wants at the top of the priority list. We deserve it.
First and foremost, what is a career coach?
A career coach helps you navigate your career and all the changes and challenges that come with it. Just like a sports coach, career coaches act as mentors, advocates, life coaches, and accountability partners for their clients. Most professionals hire a career coach for personalized assistance when facing a career challenge and when given opportunities – a major change in their career, a promotion, a job search, etc.
When should moms consider hiring a career coach?
Moms should hire a career coach now! Historically, moms do not invest in themselves as much as they invest in everyone else in their family, so access to career coaches has not been top of mind for them. However, when they do, they find higher rates of job satisfaction, more money in negotiations, and confidence in their work. Some of the major career changes that a career coach can help moms with specifically include returning to work after a gap, changing career direction, planning for maternity leave and postpartum work life.
I used to work outside of the home, and now I’m a stay-at-home mom – can a career coach help me figure out my next venture?
Absolutely! This is the perfect time to hire a coach. Not only will they help you with your resume, but they can also help you work through any challenges you are having, build your confidence and give you tips on networking, etc., so you can get noticed by recruiters and be successful in your next role.
I’m a mom who’s at a late stage in my career – is it okay for me to make a career change?
It is never too late to make a change.
I’m stuck in my current path at work, but I have no idea why? Tips on where to start?
Journaling – uninterrupted. Pen to paper (not typing on a computer or device) is a powerful tool to help you intrinsically discover clarity in your career goals and focus. One way to get started is to take a 20-minute walk to get your blood pumping and then sit somewhere comfortable to journal for 30 minutes, uninterrupted. Find someone to watch your child(ren), or do this while they are napping. Are you an outdoors person? Walk up a hill and sit on your favorite park bench, or go to the beach and sit on a blanket. To keep it indoors, just find a cozy couch or chair, make yourself some tea, or visit your local coffee shop. Start by identifying where you are stuck and unravel the crux of it. For instance, are you wanting to make a career change and simply don’t know what you would want to do all day because the unknown of making a change is scary? Here is a journaling exercise to try.
Start with journaling your “loves.” What are the daily tasks that satisfy you and make time fly by? These can be the things that you do as a mom, around the house, or when you are working in a paid job. Start making a list with these loves. Think hard about the tasks themselves, not the environment or the people you are with. For instance, if you genuinely get lost in spreadsheets and schedules when planning out your family’s summer, “scheduling and planning” would be a “love”. If you are fabulous at coordinating all of your friends or family and make connections happen and love the complexity of the chaos of people and how you have to unravel their puzzles, then “coordination” is a love. How about balancing your checkbook? “Bookkeeping” is a love.
From there, after identifying as many tasks as you can that you love, you can find themes and discover job titles that match those loves.
I had to stop working during the pandemic to focus on my family; what are some key steps in building my confidence and telling my story as I start to look for work again?
The good news is you are not alone! Moms and their hardships during the pandemic have fortunately highlighted the gaps in the workplace more than they ever have before. Put on your resume what you have been doing. There is a new movement to put motherhood on the resume and identify all of the transferable skills you do every day as a mom. Gone are the days to simply have a “gap” on your resume. You did not take a break! You work just as hard as a mom as you do when you work for an employer. Embrace it and highlight it!
Many moms are worried about life returning to “normal”, pre-pandemic work-life struggles. Do you have ways for working moms to navigate creating a “normal” that’s healthy for moms?
The best advice I can give is to be clear about your needs and advocate for yourself and your family to your employers and your loved ones. Simply put, have the conversation and do it consistently as you build a new normal. Most employers are looking at ways to embrace parents in the workplace, and your loved ones want you to be happy. Consistency with your self-care and self-advocacy is key! It can be so hard to make time for yourself, and you won’t always get it right because life happens. However, taking time for yourself only occasionally does not set the expectation for your loved ones and your children that it is normal that mom has self-care time. This should be part of your family’s routine and consistent expectations like anything else. If your son Johnny’s soccer practice is a priority in your family so that he gets all the benefits of athletics, such as fitness, comradery, interpersonal skills, and confidence-building, you deserve these same priorities. It is normal that you take Johnny to practice. Now it should be normal that you take yourself to coffee with a friend, you read that book you have been putting off, or you simply get to take a walk with yourself and your podcast. It is not selfish to take care of yourself; it’s necessary. Especially when you are always working, at home and at the office, you got this, mama!