Nuanced career advice … why professionals need it the most
By: Dr. Helen Ofosu
Nuanced career advice … why professionals need it the most
Have you ever been excited to see a job listing that you know you’re qualified for … and then after confidently clicking ‘submit’ you only seem to hear crickets instead of the phone ringing or the sound of an email pinging a promising notification?
These days possessing a university degree or even a professional designation doesn’t mean that you’ll be immune from career-related challenges (see this blog post about the perceived value of a university degree). Sometimes, it’s possible to graduate from a program and then learn that there are too many graduates with a similar background for the available positions (e.g., law school graduates who struggle to find an articling position or certified teachers who settle for supply teaching, or for work outside of the area of their hard-earned degree).
If education isn’t enough, what is needed?
This raises an important question: if a solid education is no longer enough to guarantee a good career, what else is needed? Where can you find out? Who can you count on to help? A quick Google search for career advice from career coaches and consultants will turn up countless pages with options. An endless supply of reliable and supportive information … right? Not necessarily.
The vast array of coaching options and sources of career advice that are listed online can make it hard to know who is the real deal. One problem is that the career coaching industry is not regulated so it can be hard to tell who’s suitable versus who’s marketing makes them appear that way (see this blog on the value of expertise). If you dig deeper, you will discover that many of the career coaches have earned their certifications/ designations in a relatively short amount of time (e.g., hours or days). Even worse, many haven’t accomplished much professionally in a relevant field before taking on the coaching role and starting to dole out career advice. It’s one thing to give some career advice to a high school graduate looking for part-time work while attending school, but tackling the role of a coach when handling an established professional’s livelihood and other high stakes situations is a different matter, in my opinion.
So, which occupations are experiencing this professional ‘overcrowding’? Which career paths are now being ‘disrupted’ after decades and decades of being stable? These include the following fields and roles:
- Administrative roles/simple project management
- Financial services (banking, financial planning/advisory, etc.)
- … plus, others
Unwritten rules may be hidden obstacles …
The current workplace dynamics are even more complicated for people who are dealing with additional challenges. For example, if you’re a relative newcomer to Canada you may not understand some of the unwritten rules that govern effective job searches, the reality of the Canadian workplace, and the actual hiring process. The hiring process is daunting for aspiring workers who have relevant experience but have not mastered the new rules of online screening. In certain professions including the financial industry, law, engineering, and academia, there are nuances and hidden assumptions that are not common knowledge. Because of these unwritten rules, ‘regular’ career coaches who have not earned advanced or professional degrees will probably be unaware of how to navigate those systems, let alone help someone else prepare for them. Simply put, not every career coach has the insider knowledge or connections within those circles. It takes time and exposure to certain experiences and environments to acquire the kind of expertise and insight that’s necessary to fully grasp all the nuance and complexity of certain professional jobs.
With so much invested, you need a return on those efforts
Since I spent almost 10 years obtaining my B.Sc., Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology, I understand what it’s like to invest heavily in one’s professional training and education. Likewise, I can understand why professionals may prefer to work with me since they have confidence in my breadth and depth of experience, training, discretion, and approach.
The more difficult or complex the situation, the more useful my services become …
5 ways my career advice stays nuanced:
Most professionals and aspiring professionals see me as a suitable resource for them particularly when the risks are high, and/or their current situation is overwhelming and complicated. Typical obstacles that I help my clients to resolve include:
2. Planning to leave a job for which they are overqualified so that they can avoid being sidelined into an unsuitable role for the long-term
3. Applying credentials and/or experience obtained in another country in a way that makes good use of the person’s abilities – even if those skills and experience are used in a somewhat different context
4. Navigating real or perceived complications that may relate to race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation (please see these previous blog posts related to discrimination and values).
5. My standard practice of being discrete and directing clients to appropriate resources, including sensitive interventions for people who are dealing with threatening/unsafe situations in their personal and/or professional circles.
Have sensitive career or HR-related concerns? I invite you to contact me by email, phone, or via direct message on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn if you’d like to discuss any of these topics in more detail. If something urgent comes up, I’m also available by a voice or video on Magnifi, an expertise-on-demand app.
More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.
I/O Advisory Services– Building Resilient Careers and Organizations.
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