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Career Seekers - Job Search Tool Kit

Career Coach Skills

How to be your own Career Coach

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Take Charge of your Career

One of the most important considerations in taking charge of your own career coaching is to think objectively about your work, experiences, and feedback you receive. By getting organized, you can record and create structured opportunities to be self-reflective about the choices you make each day, and why you are motivated to take certain actions. You are going to need to take a good, hard look at your current skills and compare that to the job market. What is in demand that you do not have? Expect that you will probably need to update your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interviewing skills, and learn how to get past the applicant tracking systems. If you are 50 or older, you will also need to have strategies to combat ageism in order to get hired.


You alone are responsible for your professional growth and development. Where do you start? Here are some ways to be effective in your new role as a career “self-mentor”:

Getting started as your own Career Coach

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How to do a self-assessment

The first step is to identify your strengths and areas of opportunity for improvement, specifically the technical abilities, soft skills, and education you need to stay current and progress in your career.

Self-awareness provides you the self-confidence to coach yourself. Be self-reflecting and extremely critical in producing your inventory. Ask others how they perceive you and consider their responses.

Your views of your development require the need to be practical, not optimistic. Most of the time, that requires an outside point of view, but look for somebody who will tell you what you require to hear, not what they believe you want to hear.

To really see success in your own career coaching, you have to actually commit to improving. Self-reflection, strength definition, goal-setting, and tracking your progress don’t really mean a thing if you aren’t able to wake up each morning, map out your day and stay on task to reach your fullest potential.

Start each morning by mapping out the day ahead of you. Create your to-do list the evening before, or block out time on your calendar to make sure everything that gets done, gets done. Struggling to see the trees through the forest? Stop getting caught up in the small details and planning around where you want to go with your career, and visualize future success.

Do you have the technical skills (and certifications) you need?

First, look at the skills companies are asking for in your field. Look at the job postings and write down a list of what you are missing. Use LinkedIn and do searches to look at profiles of people who are working and moving up in your field. What skills and certifications do they have?

Now, look at your strengths. What skills do you have already? What transferrable skills do you have that translate well to this field?

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Know your job market

Start by looking at the supply and demand. Some only focus on what they want to do, and not what is available in the local market. A couple of times a year I will get someone telling me they want to be an animator. I hate to break it to them, but the fact is there are not many opportunities to work as an animator in Tampa. I would advise starting with the job market first, see what is available in large numbers, and then deciding what you want to do from those choices. Get to know the jobs that are in high demand that match your experience and skill set, and the ones in high demand for entry-level if you have to make a change. For experienced managers, project management is a good choice. For entry-level, there is always good demand for computer networking or cybersecurity.

One of the first things you need to determine is whether you will be a career advancer or career changer. When people lose their job, often they want to go right back to doing the exact same thing they were doing. Great, but maybe that is the reason they were laid off, because that exact job does not exist anymore, or not for what they were being paid. If the exact job you want does not exist in the numbers needed to have a high expectation of employability, then you have to adapt. What are your transferrable skills? What jobs are out there in high numbers where you can still leverage your experience to show you are an ideal candidate? Often all you need is a certification or two to validate you have the skills needed.

Whenever possible, it is preferable to be able to use what you have rather than start all over. However, understand that as an entry-level candidate, you will make less money. Sometimes I get a candidate who tells me, “I have always wanted to be an X,” only to add they can’t take less than what they were making as an experienced Y. It doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes you do not have a choice and have to change careers. This can be especially challenging when you are a mature worker (over 50) because employers typically prefer younger workers for entry-level. In this case, it becomes especially important to identify the jobs that are in high enough demand compare to the supply of workers available who are qualified.

How To Get Ready for Your Job Search

When I was laid off, I thought I had a great resume and cover letter–based on what I had learned over 20 years ago. Many make the same mistake, so right from the start assume that everything you have is out-dated, makes you look old, and reflects poorly on your actual skills, plus is likely not to get past the applicant tracking systems that are prevalent today. Get ready to start from scratch and redo the following:

Project Management – get an overview of industry and employment opportunities
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Are you unemployed? Take your career coach strategy to the next level

No Risk Income Share Agreements


If you don’t qualify for a grant, see if you qualify for an Income Share Agreement. This is a no risk option–you pay nothing until you get placed and there is no interest.