When Shio*, 38, decided to return to the workforce after a five-year hiatus to take care of her first child, she had immense difficulty finding a job. After receiving no calls or e-mails despite sending out more than 200 applications, she lost her confidence.
Prior to her break, she was a branding and marketing manager at an insurance agency, where she led a team of four. But trying to re-enter the job market in early 2018 made her realise that she had been phased out.
“While I was job-hunting, I saw that the job requirements were very different from before,” the mother of two explains. “Minimum requirements for a brand manager now include expertise and experience in other areas like social media marketing and data analytics, which wasn’t the case previously.”
She then decided to seek the help of a career coach she found on Mums@work, a site for mothers who want to work flexitime or run their own business.
As a result of the coaching, she applied to roles outside her comfort zone and is now an operations executive in the financial sector.
What Is Career Coaching?
While a life coach guides and supports clients in various stages of their lives, from personal to professional, a career coach zeroes in on work matters, taking clients through the four main stages of career development: exploring the self, exploring options, setting goals, and taking action.
With a series of carefully crafted questions such as “What does success mean to you?”, “What do you value most in your work?” and “What difference do you want to make?”, a coach helps clients navigate and make decisions on the direction they are headed in.
“Career coaches should not make career decisions for their clients,” says Heng Teng Teng, a leadership and career coach from Grow Consultancy, a private career and leadership development consultancy. “The focus is always on empowering clients to make informed choices. The ownership and decision ultimately lie with them.”
Anyone at any stage of their career can benefit from a career coach: CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, mums returning to the workforce, fresh grads and retirees. It is an avenue to get better acquainted with yourself to unlock your full potential.
“Not all clients will start and end at the same stage, so we meet them where they are,” Teng Teng explains. “A career coach helps you discover the most compatible professional path for yourself, and helps you tap on and develop your skill set.” In other words, you control the steering wheel while your coach guides you from the passenger seat.
PR manager and coach-in-training Naeema Ismail adds: “Real and tangible benefits of coaching can only be realised when the client invests emotionally and mentally in the programme, commits to being painfully honest with herself, as well as takes steps to learn from and act on the insights gained. This act of confronting oneself can sometimes be emotionally draining, but the results can be far-reaching, opening up new ways of thinking and approaching both work and life.”
So if you’re wondering whether it’s too late to apply for that university course, fight for that promotion or switch to freelancing, it’s time to push past the excuses and doubts and ask yourself what you really want. Is your job meaningful to you? Does it spark joy – do you want to keep it? If the answers are no, you might want to speak to a career coach.