No-one aims to win at sports, master a musical instrument or learn to drive a car without first getting some kind of coaching or mentoring, do they?
Then why do so many graduates not think the same when it comes to building their equally important graduate careers?
A career or graduate coach may seem alien to some but in actual fact you will have enjoyed exactly this kind of help from the moment you started school (if not sooner). You will have called these people teachers and tutors, but these are the people who coached you to get you where you are today.
Now that they have done their part, what about the rest of the way? Surely you need the same type of support to help you get ahead in your career – at least if you expect to land a graduate level job.
Career coaching helps you to prepare for what’s ahead
Coaching is about getting somewhere or achieving something. Someone who has been there, or somewhere similar, is in a very good position to show you how. They can point out the fast lanes to take and pitfalls to avoid. A graduate coach or mentor can help you set smart career goals and keep you accountable to them. They will help you do the work required to move your career forward.
Coaching, whether it’s for sports, business, singing, health or fitness, is especially important wherever achieving your goal means facing competition or resistance (whether external or internal). When that resistance comes, as it will do when going for a graduate level job, your graduate coach will be there to keep you motivated, focused and on track. A coach or mentor can act as a cheerleader to cheer you along the way.
Career coaching – a common misconception
According to Richard Branson one of the main reasons why people don’t seek out a coach or mentor is because they think it is a sign of weakness. This is a common misconception. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength not weakness. It shows wisdom and good self-awareness. You understand that no successful person, no matter who they are, gets to the top of their game on their own. The person who thinks they can is in for an unnecessarily long and bumpy ride.
Graduate coaching brings out your strengths
A graduate coach will help you to bring out your strengths. For a start, a coach can give you useful feedback and critique. They can help a graduate realise skills they never knew they had. Take Mark, a graduate we coached recently. He wanted a career as an accountant and, after many failed interviews, came to us for help. Through working with us he realised that he much preferred digital marketing as the career suited him better. Pretty soon Mark landed his first interview, got the job and has since been promoted. Mark is in fact typical of the many graduates who come to us with one career idea in mind and end up with something that suits them far better. Coaching can open your eyes to a better job for you.
Not only can a coach open your eyes to latent skills, they can also help you understand what areas to work on. You cannot develop your skills all at once. There will be skills that need to be developed first before you can work on others. It’s all about learning the right things at the right time so you’re always growing.
What should you look for in a graduate coach?
In my book, The Graduate Book, finding a coach or mentor is the twelve key to success for anyone who wants to do well in their career. In that book I share some advice on what to look for in a coach, and where to find one.
If you want to find a graduate coach look out for the following:
- Someone who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. A person that’s too nice or too soft will not help you grow.
- Someone you respect, admire and hold in high esteem. This is likely to be someone accomplished in their field, who you can look up to.
- Someone who inspires you. This person should make you feel encouraged and energised. After a session you should feel ready and inspired to act on your goals.
- Someone who has gone before you. This will likely be someone who is older than you, at least in your early career. We tend to refer to a coach as someone who has already achieved some mastery in the same thing you want to do, and a mentor as anyone who has the life skills to guide you in your own life.
- Someone who can communicate clearly. You need a coach or mentor who can explain what they mean in simple language you can understand, who isn’t long winded but gets to the point to tell you want you need to know and do.
- Someone who believes in you. This person should be able to see your gifts and talents, even if you can’t, so they can point them out to you. They should be someone who roots for you and is committed to seeing you through to the end goal. Another person’s belief, expectation and confidence in you will create a miraculous field of energy that will help you to also believe and have confidence in yourself.
How to find a graduate coach
To find a coach you must first know what you want to achieve. There must be a goal and objective before you can ask anyone to help you – otherwise how will they know how to help?
Next, look around you for people who inspire you. Who do you admire and look up to? These can be teachers or lecturers; bosses at places where you’ve done paid or unpaid work; neighbours or family friends; or speakers you’ve met at career fairs, societies, clubs, networking events and other events you’ve attended.
Don’t overlook people you’ve met online – but do be wise. For example, choose someone you have taken the time to get to know. Observe them for a while. Follow and listen to what they have to say. Research them thoroughly. What do they stand for? Are they consistent? Do they have good morals, such as integrity, honesty, reliability and respect for others? These may be old-fashioned but they still work!
Finally, get in touch with them and ask for the help you need!
If you’ve been inspired by the whole idea of finding a graduate coach why not speak to us? We offer a range of support to help you become the best version of yourself you can be, including courses, workshops, one-to-one coaching and, of course, two very great books to help you find and get ahead in your graduate career.