How to coach yourself into the right career

With so many different graduate career choices on offer how can you reduce the chances of choosing badly? Our blog on how to coach yourself into the right career can help. 

Many graduates invest great energy into the process of finding a job without giving due attention to the most important step in choosing the right career, which is to get to know yourself.

Of course, you have an idea of what you like and dislike and, perhaps, your strengths and weaknesses, but there are different levels of self-awareness which, once achieved, can help you to make the right career choice.

Why is this key?

Your career choice determines your future, that’s why we place so much emphasis on it. Your lifestyle, and economic and social status all rest on this decision. Most importantly, it also has a huge impact on your emotional well-being and happiness. Springing out of bed in the mornings is a lot easier when you enjoy what you do.

Ninety-per cent of the graduates who come to me for career coaching will end up changing their minds about the kind of work they want to do. After a bit of probing and discussion they begin to see that, actually, they are best suited to something else. Getting to know yourself can clarify the career steps you should take.

So, how can you coach yourself to choose the right career? It is important that you start by placing your own skills, interests, experiences, strengths and even weaknesses at the centre of making the right choice.

Step One: Audit your skills

The first step we take our graduates through is to audit their skills. A skills audit is a stock take of the skills you have.

When auditing your skills, you should include both paid and unpaid work as it all counts towards your experience. Remember to include your hobbies and interests, as these also count.

Step Two: Check your skills against those employers look for

Once you’ve listed your skills, check them against what potential employers are looking for. There are at least nine employability skills that all employers say they look for in a new hire.

These are:

  1. Business awareness – you have strong awareness of how the company makes money, how they compete with other brands and how they can reduce costs
  2. Communication – you can get your point across clearly, verbally and in writing
  3. Analytical – you can interpret data into practical, easy-to-use information
  4. Resilience – you keep going in the face of what may seem like failure or lack of result
  5. Problem solving – you automatically look for the best solution to overcome an obstacle
  6. Self-management – you know how to use your own initiative and manage your own behaviour and well-being
  7. Organisation – you can organise your own workload, time and priorities
  8. Teamwork – you can work well with others to achieve a shared objective
  9. Entrepreneurial – you have good innovative ideas and leadership skills
employability skills include business awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, IT skills, numeracy, problem solving, resilience, self-management, teamwork

Once you’ve audited your skills and checked them against the nine employability skills employers look for it’s time to think about your ideal career.

Step Three: What career are you best suited to?

Choosing your ideal career begins with looking at what you have particularly enjoyed and been good at. We find that a graduate will usually fit into one of three types of careers:

  • Specialist – doctor, vet, coder
  • Analyst – planner, logistics, advisor
  • Communicator – hospitality, sales, advertising

The majority of those we work with will fit into one of the latter two because a specialist is more likely to have obtained a degree with a clear career path.

Many find it hard to uncover the relevant skills they have. Again, the clue is in what you have done well and enjoyed.

Finding relevant but buried skills

I once worked with a young man who had achieved his rowing blue at university. What was interesting about him was that he didn’t think he had much to offer an employer. He only mentioned this award after a series of questions about what he’d done in his spare time while at university.

Now, let’s think about what achieving an award of this kind really says about a person. The blue award is given in recognition of outstanding performance so, immediately, it marks you out as someone who possesses a set of valuable attributes. You are a person that has consistently outperformed others around you, who makes significant contributions to your team.

If you have worked in a coffee shop, you can list skills such as customer service, communication, problem solving, organisation and resilience. Remember the time you had to think on your feet to help those diners calculate the percentage each should pay for their meal? Or the time you had to help that lactose-intolerant customer choose the best options on the menu?

Breaking down the tasks you carried out to their minutest detail will help you zoom in on tasks you did well and which can be transferred to other jobs. This is work you have to do for yourself: employers won’t do it for you. All it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking.

What’s naturally outstanding about you?

According to Forbes, outstanding employees are:

  • Clued up on their job and the environment they are working in.
  • Able to apply what they learn to the job – so they continuously improve.
  • Great with people and in their place as part of a team.
  • Able to anticipate problems and address them before they do harm.
  • The type to speak up about sticky topics like workload and ineffective procedures and to suggest how to fix them.
  • Likely to have a career plan in mind and don’t rely on others to manage it.
  • Respectful of others without being people-pleasers.
  • The type to seek out and ask for help when they need it.
  • Likely to share their ideas and embrace the ideas of others.
  • Consistent and get results.

You need to extract these accomplishments and own them. Expressing them on your CV and during your job interview will mark you out for the right career.

Step Four: Boost your confidence

Our final step in coaching an individual is to help them believe themselves. You must do the same. Why is self-belief so essential for getting the job you want? Because the art of getting a job is to convince an employer that you are the best person for the position advertised – if you don’t believe that yourself how are you going to convince anyone else?

There are four main components to cultivating a strong sense of inner belief without coming across as a pompous know-it-all (which no-one likes). These are:

Past accomplishments. Make a list of the things you’ve accomplished in the past. Think about the time you won that race, met that deadline, solved that difficult problem or wrote that great essay or article. Regularly remind yourself of your triumphs.

Talk about your passions. Focus on specific things around your work or hobbies that really interest you and get you fired up. This will help you to get in touch with your personal values and engender a sense of confidence in yourself as an individual.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Whether we like it or not other people’s opinions of us do affect us, especially those of the people we value or are close to. You want people around you who reaffirm and build you up.

Cultivate a growth mindset. Remember, mistakes are inevitable, and no-one becomes skilled at anything without having to learn, so you must be willing to fail forward. One of the top reasons why people struggle to believe they can achieve a goal is because of past failures that leave them believing they will fail again in the future. If you are willing and determined to pick yourself up, learn and move on after every set-back you will eventually land the right career.

At Graduate Coach we offer plenty of support to help you coach yourself into the right career.

Press

A degree is no longer enough – Aspect County

Young people graduate into a different world from that of twenty or thirty years ago when their parents went to university. The student population has doubled since 1992 and last year UCAS reported that a record number, almost half, were accepted into university. The problem is what happens when they leave. With 78% of students now achieving a 1st or 2:1, competition for graduate level employment is rife. Which is why, according to official data by the Office of National Statistics, almost half (47%) of graduates were in non-graduate jobs two years later.
Read Article

How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 1 and Stage 2

If you’re a student or graduate our one-to-one coaching can help. Stage one: Learning about yourself – Find your ideal career will help you learn about yourself, give you a better understanding of your preferences, strengths and skills and help you find your ideal career. Stage two: Career plan develops your career plan – what skills do you have and what do you need, establishes your current level on the 9 employability skills, create your career plan, discussions about what career options will suit you best, Internships and work experience needed.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book introduces the 9 Employability Skills, how and where to acquire them, ways to develop them, how to prove you have these skills and how to create a CV that highlights your achievements.

Nail That Interview Course with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

Watch

The full career coaching programme with Chris Davies | Interview training

Creating a career action plan | Developing career goals

Tell me about yourself | Self introductions with Chris Davies

What graduate recruiters look for | Career coaching for graduates

Why you may be more work ready than you think

The number one question a graduate looking for that first graduate level position tends to ask is whether or not they have enough relevant work experience to get the job they want. Am I work ready?

This is understandable. Work experience is very important because without it, it will be extremely difficult for you to find a job. However, if you have graduated and don’t have much relevant work experience then what should you do?

In such cases you might find it better to flip the question on its head and to ask yourself the following question instead:

“What work relevant experience do I have?”

They may seem like the same question, but they aren’t. There’s a world of difference between the two, as you shall shortly see.

Relevant work experience is what the employer lists as a requirement for doing the job. Whereas work relevant experience is what you currently have to offer. The difference between the two is perspective.

Change the way you see your work experience

When you change the way you look at your work experience you will realise that you have far more to offer than you at first thought. You will quit believing that you cannot apply for a job that interests you purely because you don’t have the relevant work skills and experience the employer asks for.

When an employer writes a job advert he or she will list it from the perspective of what the position needs, but you cannot look at it entirely that way. At least not at first. You must ALSO look at what YOU have done that is relevant to the job.

How do you do that?

How to change the way you see your work experience

In my role as a career coach I frequently come across graduates who sincerely believe they have nothing to offer. They read a job vacancy and see a mismatch between the experience they have and what the employer is asking for. They see the sparseness of their CV and their hearts sink. And, sadly, they often give up.

But I tell them the same thing I’m telling you now: if you want to succeed at getting your feet on the ladder you must to begin to look at your skills and experience differently.

What I usually do at this point is ask them, what have you done at university? What do you do in your spare time? Have you volunteered anywhere, travelled to any countries? Do you have any hobbies?

The answers I get back usually astounds me just as much as it astounds them. They begin to reel off a long list of activities they have been involved with.

As the graduate talks about what they have done, and realise what they have learnt as a result, their eyes begin to light up. They realise that they have a lot more to offer than they first believed.

Analysing your work ready skills and experience

Work relevant skills and experience are those that can be used by an employer. They may need to be unpacked and repackaged differently but that’s all.

I once coached a guy who up until starting college had never rowed before in his life.

Within four months he was rowing for his college. He started university and by Christmas he was on their rowing team, a team that did exceptionally well in the England finals.

To achieve all of this he had to get himself up at 6am seven days a week to row between 6:30am and 7:15am. He went to gym three times of week. And he got his rowing blue in just 12 months.

He hadn’t thought anything of all of this until we spoke about his experience.

I had to point out that he had learnt self-resilience, time management and teamwork as you’re only as good as the worse person on your team.

I met another guy who wasn’t the best cricket player by his own admission but excelled when he took over the running the team.

He did a lot of rugby coaching and had to put out four or five teams to play on a Saturday. Through this he learnt soft skills like organisation, fundraising and leadership.

I have numerous examples of people who threw themselves into university social life, such as running societies, and I can always tell the difference. You don’t have to do a formal work experience programme with a big employer to understand what employability skills are.

How to find your work ready skills and experience

Ok, so you should now have a better idea of what work relevant skills are. Work ready skills are those that you have developed from:

  • School
  • College
  • University
  • Voluntary work
  • Travelling
  • Hobbies, like sports and writing
  • Non-paid work (like work experience you had to do while at school or college)
  • Internships
  • Part or full time work, whether job-related or not
develop employability skills via activities at university, volunteering, hobbies, internships, paid work

Obviously, the closer related they are to the job you want to apply for the more recognisable and easier they are to sell to an employer.

But, for the purpose of this article, where you may not have lots of this type of experience, you need to be much more critical of what you’ve done if you are to identify skills you can sell on your CV or in a job interview.

Start by asking yourself the following sets of questions:

Business awareness

Have I ever

  • volunteered or done work experience in an office, retail outlet or other place where I had to deal with people I did not know (i.e. customers, clients, suppliers)?
  • had to work anywhere where I have had to work to fit in and behave professionally?
  • worked with people from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs?
  • worked with people of different positions, either senior or subordinate to me?
  • read and understood a business or trade report, article or newspaper?
  • done any research on a company or organisation to understand what makes it successful?

Communication and literacy skills

Have I ever had to

  • speak or do a presentation before an audience?
  • carry out research and to produce a conclusion or summary of what I learnt?
  • persuade anyone to make a decision, such as to sign up to or support a project or event?
  • write a blog, report, article or other material that was to be published in print or online?

Entrepreneurship

Have I ever

  • been elected to represent my peers as a prefect, head boy/girl or in some other capacity?
  • had to lead others?
  • had to lead or manage a project?
  • had to convince people to sign up to a campaign or attend an event, like an open day?
  • had to show visitors around my school, college or university campus?

IT Skills

Have I ever used

  • a computer
  • Word, Excel, Photoshop, illustrator, SPSS, or other software?
  • WordPress, Joomla, Dreamweaver or other website building software?
  • social media to promote an event, product or information?

Numeracy

Have I ever had to

  • assess the outcome of an activity or situation and to provide feedback?
  • analyse figures, tables, statistics and other data and communicate them in a way that others could use?
  • handle money or budgets?

Problem Solving

Have I ever had to

  • help others solve a problem?
  • find my own ways to solve a problem?
  • ask others to help me solve a problem?

Resilience

Have I ever had to

  • motivate myself or others to achieve a goal?
  • keep going in the face of disappointment or difficulty?
  • perform under pressure and keep my head?
  • deal with difficult or negative people?

Self-management

Have I ever had to

  • organise my own time, workload, priorities or diary to get stuff done?
  • meet a deadline?
  • assume responsibility for others, a budget, a situation, event, outcome or anything else?

Teamwork

Have I ever had to

  • supervise others?
  • work as part of a team to achieve a goal?
  • find ways past problems so that I could achieve either of the above?
employability skills include business awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, IT skills, numeracy, problem solving, resilience, self-management, teamwork

There is no substitute for work experience gained from an employer. However, if you’ve graduated without having accumulated lots of relevant work experience then work relevant work experience will be the place for you to start. All is not lost. By answering the questions above you should be able to see that you still have something to offer.

Press

A degree is no longer enough – Aspect County

Young people graduate into a different world from that of twenty or thirty years ago when their parents went to university. The student population has doubled since 1992 and last year UCAS reported that a record number, almost half, were accepted into university. The problem is what happens when they leave. With 78% of students now achieving a 1st or 2:1, competition for graduate level employment is rife. Which is why, according to official data by the Office of National Statistics, almost half (47%) of graduates were in non-graduate jobs two years later.
Read Article

How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 1

If you’re a student or graduate looking for help, stage one of our one-to-one coaching: Learning about yourself – Find your ideal career will help you learn about yourself, give you a better understanding of your preferences, strengths and skills and help you find your ideal career.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book introduces the 9 Employability Skills, how and where to acquire them, ways to develop them, how to prove you have these skills and how to create a CV that highlights your achievements.

Nail That Interview Course with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

Graduating this summer and worried about finding a job? Read this.

If you are graduating this summer and worried about finding a job, don’t. Here are some of the best things you can do to prepare yourself.

All those lectures over. No more course assignments. Hanging out with your buddies in the student bar is a thing of the past. Now you’ve got to find a job.

Graduating can feel scary.

You may feel alone and worried about how to find that first graduate job.

Well, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a deep breath and stop panicking over…

…what job you should do…

If you already know what type of job you want to do that’s a good start but if not, you shouldn’t be too concerned about that either. During the first few years after graduating most people don’t know what they want to do or, if they do, end up changing their minds about their career choices. Use this time to learn more about yourself and to explore your skills in a work environment. One of the most important distinctions between university life and working life is to understand that the latter is much more self-determined. There are no programme leaders to set agendas for you or to lead you by the hand. You must decide what you will learn and how far it will take you.

…not having the right skills…

Don’t worry over whether or not you have the skills to do that job right now. What’s more important is to know how and where you are going to acquire those skills. The journey to building the skills you need is just as important as getting them as it gets you in the right frame of mind to make the most of this important stage of your life and career. What I mean by this is that if you know you are on the journey to building your skills then you’ll recognise opportunities as they come up and know what to do with them when you see them. And, besides, you’ll enjoy the journey much better.

…how and where to build the sort of skills you need…

Find an internship position where you can begin to develop, grow and build up your work experience. Look for an internship position in a field or industry that holds some interest for you. Internships opportunities are much better than they used to be in the past and will at least pay you something around an entry level wage. Once you land your internship seek to learn all you can about:

  • The company and how it ticks – what makes it stand out? Do you understand its branding, how it makes its money, what makes it different to its competitors?
  • The different departments in the company – how do these department work and fit interdependently with each other? Where does your own department fit?
  • Build networks – who is who and who does what? How does your own role help other people do their jobs well, and is there anything you can do (without stepping too far out of line) to improve that?

…about money or about not finding the type of internship you really want…

Counter this by finding a job. If you can’t find an internship in the area of your interest find any other job, full or part time, as long as you are working. I’m inclined to say find any job that helps you to build as many of the following skills as possible (and, by the way, these are skills you should also be looking to build during any internship):

  • Communication skills (written or verbal but preferably both) – writing articles or reports, doing presentations and speaking to members of the public, colleagues, suppliers… anyone in a professional context.
  • Business awareness – this also covers customer service skills and knowing how to be professional when working with clients, suppliers and colleagues. It also includes understanding and fitting in with the company’s culture.
  • Resilience – staying on task no matter how hard things become and being determined to learn whatever skills you need to master in order to do your job well. You must be sensible however not to do anything that jeopardises your long-term health and wellbeing.
  • Numeracy skills – yes, seeking out and using numbers, charts, statistics and other data for practical purposes, but also seeking opportunities develop your analytical, critical and creative thinking and skills. This includes good research skills.
  • IT skills – you must know how to use software packages to help you do your job better. You’ll also need awareness of online tools (social media, online marketing skills and basic coding or website building skills).
  • Entrepreneurship skills – an entrepreneur is resourceful, comes up with good workable ideas and knows how to motivate others to get on board to make those ideas work. Be a good leader.
  • Problem solving skills – never throw your hands up in the air when facing a problem at work but look for ways to solve them. This may include getting help from other people, but you should always present your need for help with at least some ideas of your own on how to solve the problem you’re facing.
  • Self-management – using your own initiative and managing your own time and work load are important skills if you want to get ahead in your graduate career. You must be a good organiser and planner.
  • Teamwork – whatever job you do it is likely that it will involve working with other people so get your teamwork skills up to scratch. Teamwork is about doing whatever is required to get the team objective done. It’s not just about you.
employability skills include business awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, IT skills, numeracy, problem solving, resilience, self-management, teamwork

…about what to do while waiting for any of the above to happen…

There are a few other things you can do to build your skills while you are looking for the right internship or job. You can:

  • Volunteer – another great way to develop the skills you need for your graduate career is to volunteer. Volunteering can open doors to valuable opportunities to develop the experience you need, and you can offer as many or as few hours as you have free. Again, seek to grow in the direction of the areas listed above.
  • Start a blog or online project / business – with WordPress it is easy to set up your own blog or website selling products online. This will give you the opportunity to develop many of the skills listed above and, who knows, you may even end up making lots of money or becoming famous! Ok, maybe not. But at least it will give you the opportunity to develop important skills in marketing, communication, customer service, problem solving, resilience and other important aptitudes you can list on your CV.

Remember, nothing happens by accident. You have to strategically create the opportunities you want to see in your life. Don’t spend the summer sitting on your laurels and bemoaning the fact that you can’t find the job you want. Keep yourself busy building valuable experience and confidence and the doors will open for you.

Press

A degree is no longer enough – Aspect County

Young people graduate into a different world from that of twenty or thirty years ago when their parents went to university. The student population has doubled since 1992 and last year UCAS reported that a record number, almost half, were accepted into university. The problem is what happens when they leave. With 78% of students now achieving a 1st or 2:1, competition for graduate level employment is rife. Which is why, according to official data by the Office of National Statistics, almost half (47%) of graduates were in non-graduate jobs two years later.
Read Article

How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 4

If you’re a student or graduate our one-to-one coaching can help. Stage one: Learning about yourself – Find your ideal career will help you learn about yourself, give you a better understanding of your preferences, strengths and skills and help you find your ideal career. Stage two: Career plan develops your career plan – what skills do you have and what do you need, establishes your current level on the 9 employability skills, discussions around Internships and work experience needed. Stage four: Applying for jobs includes how to find the right job opportunities and internships and how to network.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book introduces the 9 Employability Skills, how and where to acquire them, ways to develop them, how to prove you have these skills, how to create a CV that highlights your achievements and things to consider before and during an interview.

Nail That Interview Course with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

Watch

Help to get a graduate job | Graduate interview coaching

The full career coaching programme with Chris Davies | Interview training

Tell me about yourself | Self introductions

Creating a career action plan | Developing career goals

Successful internships | Creating your own internships

3 promising signs for the future of graduate employment

A hundred thousand 16- to 24-year-olds unemployed, 49 per cent of graduates never gaining a graduate level job, and half of employers saying that graduates lack vital work-ready skills – bleak reports abound and yet we see at least three signs that point to a promising future for graduate employment.

With employers keen to find ways to access to the widest possible talent pool and universities knowing that their survival depends on creating better employment outcomes for their graduates, this is quite possibly the best of times for graduates looking for work.

We have seen a noticeable shift in effort with both sides actively looking for ways to create better opportunities for vocational training. It places graduates in a favourable position to get the help they need.

Sign 1: More employers and universities are working together, better.

We have seen a renewed determination from employers to work more effectively with universities to help graduates develop the skills they need for employment. Universities and employers have been working together for years but with little progress and often with both sides feeling that the other should do more. Recent research from City & Guilds shows that more than half of the employers surveyed would like to be more involved in developing qualifications to build a stronger link between education and business needs, and almost 80 per cent of employers believe that work experience is essential to get young people ready for work.

Sign 2: More programmes to help graduates become work-ready.

This is leading to an increase in the number of programmes to help improve the quality and range of ways young people can acquire the skills they need. One of these is the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership’s (FLSP) Graduate Foundation College (GFC), aimed at those who have graduated but are still struggling to secure full time employment. The GFC gives initial training to graduates before a three-month internship at a financial advisory firm and is part funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). There are also virtual programmes like GetInGetOn, a programme that enables young people to find out more about the financial services and to develop the skills and knowledge that employers want via e-career mentors. Another would be the University of East London whose careers centre are doing some rather innovative things to help Graduates into jobs.

Sign 3: More and better quality internship training programmes

Another promising sign is better quality internships. This week, the FLSP joined the call for companies to pay greater attention to the benefits that can be created by paid internships. They said more companies, including SMEs, are looking at creating internships opportunities. This is particularly good news for graduates and could change the face of internship training where this method gaining the experience you need to get a job is no longer looked upon as the poor cousin of the graduate programme. Just a few weeks ago during a gathering of universities and employers this question around quality paid internships was also raised. Employers and recruiters are saying that if we are serious about helping graduates to skill up then we need to create an internship culture that can meet their needs.

If every company took just one apprentice or intern, it would instantly address the youth unemployment level, which is still unacceptably high,

It would also help companies to adequately plan for growth in a recovering economy, buoyed by talented young people with sights set on success.

Liz Field, CEO of the FLSP

We are pretty confident that activity in these three areas will increase as firms and universities look for ways to solve the problem around graduate recruitment. It is in the interests of both sides to work together to create opportunities for graduates to develop the employability skills they need. This can only spell good news for the future of graduate employment.

How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 4

If you’re a student or graduate looking for help, stage four of our one-to-one coaching: applying for jobs, includes how to find the right job opportunities and internships, how to build and manage a network.

Nail That Interview Course: I CAN do the job and I WANT the job.

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success and help you go that extra mile to land your dream job. The Course Curriculum includes Module 1 – I CAN do the job and Module 2 – I WANT the job.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want.

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book discusses the 9 Employability Skills, how to create a CV that highlights your achievements and things to consider before and during an interview.

Watch

Successful internships | Creating your own internships

Help to get a graduate job | Graduate interview coaching

Creating a career action plan | Developing career goals

How to differentiate yourself from other job candidates | Stand out to recruiters