Have you just been laid off and are feeling lost about your next career direction? Stuck in the rut? Or is family discord wreaking havoc on the quality of your life?
If you ever have issues with your career, or you just want to up your game, you could hire professional help in the form of a coach. Career coaches believe they provide a safe space for those who are looking for tailored guidance.
“There are a lot of career formulae out there on the internet, and some even appear in a step-by-step guidebook, but not all of the resources suit everyone,” says career coach Nik Faiz Iskandar Nik Zahari, a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) by Professional Association Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC), US.
Nik says that an employee needs a career expert who has been learning new career trends and new ways of guiding people through their career
“Each individual has personal issues that he would not share with just about anyone, and he may not even be aware that his personal issues have a major impact on his career.
“He would need someone who can guide him based on his current circumstances. This is where guidance from a career coach comes in – it is meant specifically for that particular person,” he adds.
Rohaizan Sallehudin, CEO of TLF Global Consultancy, a Malaysian transformation, leadership development and coaching consultancy, says her clients come from all walks of life.
“I’ve had professionals, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, CEOs of public listed companies as clients … The search begins with an individual wanting to change something in his or her life. It can be anyone. Everyone has difficult moments in their lives. They might have tried lots of options, and still not be able to achieve what they want to achieve and so on,” she explains.
Some may argue that having a workplace mentor is better since it costs nothing, and the mentor may have more intimate knowledge of the industry you are in.
However, according to Accountemps, which specialises in temporary staffing for accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, while 86% of more than 2,200 CFOs who participated in its survey said having a mentor is somewhat or very important for career development, only 26% of professionals admitted to actually having a mentor.
Nik agrees there are many successful people in every career field whom job seekers can approach to be mentors, but believes that not many have the right skills and techniques to guide them through their career issues. “Is it enough for the mentor to share how they overcame their challenges 20 years ago? And will the issue be tackled in the same way or formula? Things have changed in the past 20 years,” he adds.
He argues that an employee needs a career expert who has been learning new career trends and new ways of guiding people through their career. He also needs to be someone who has been helping people attain their dream job with dynamic ways and tools.
He further argues that with the multitude of issues and challenges faced by an individual in their career, it is advisable to see a career coach at least once in your lifetime to ensure you’re on the right career path.
“Most of us graduate from university at the age of 25. After graduating, we start looking for jobs and work until 55. You spend 30 years of your life in your career. Just imagine if you only realise what you really love to do at age 56. It is already too late to rewind and start all over again,” he says.
In Nik’s view, his fees are affordable enough for individuals who really want to improve their careers or pursue their dream jobs. He uses Skype and charges his clients RM200 per hour. Clients may also choose to come to his office, or incur additional charges for transportation and accommodation when they request that Nik travels outstation to their office.
He offers seven different types of coaching, which include coaching for those who are stuck in a career rut, promotion interview, job search strategy, as well as resume and LinkedIn, among others.
“Every coaching session would take one-to-two hours, thus giving the client some time to digest what he has learnt from the session,” he explains.
“Some came to me only for resume coaching, and two to three weeks later, they would come back to me for an interview coaching. Some of my clients only took four hours to really get a grip on skills, techniques, and be very clear on their career path,” he says, adding others opt for a 10-12-hour session, depending on what issues they are having.
A coach, who declines to be named, says coaches generally charge as low as RM300 to RM1,000 per session, and each coaching session is about one to one-and-a-half hours in duration.
Some master-level coaches even charge RM1,000 to RM1,500 per session. Depending on one’s package, a client may have unlimited access to his coach when faced with specific issues in between sessions, or extra value-added services or coaching sessions, says the coach.
The coaching duration depends on the individual, and it ranges from weekly to no less than once a month for a typical period of three months to one year.
If you are confused about your career path, need help to ace the interview and land a better job or simply improve your performance, you may need to hire professional help in the form of a coach
Measuring one’s return
On whether there is a way to calculate one’s return on investment (ROI) when hiring a coach, the coaches argue that the return is measured on the success in solving a client’s problem.
Nik points out that every client has different issues that they would like to address. “Before the coaching session starts, we will ask the client the area that they wish to improve on. Clients are also being informed on what they expect to achieve upon finishing each coaching session.
“The coachee and coach will have a mutual understanding regarding each matter, and only then the session will commence,” he says.
He adds that coaching sessions are held stage-by-stage based on a client’s needs and objectives. “For example, if a client comes to a career coach and he wants to fix his resume and land an interview, that will be the main focus,” he says.
“Every phase of the career coaching is the client’s choice. If the client chooses not to do the necessary tasks recommended by the coach, he takes full responsibility for the outcome of the coaching session,” he says.
Nik stresses that coaching involves a two-way communication, whereby both parties have their own role to play in this commitment-driven process. “It is not a session where one goes and sees the career coach, hoping that the career coach will do everything for them,” he says.
“Career coaching session is where the client and coach sit together and figure out the possible solutions, techniques and tools that would help the client achieve the goals together.”
Rohaizan couldn’t agree more. “The whole concept of coaching is that every session deals with one issue you (the client) wants clarity on,” she says. All solutions, however, come from the client.
“He’s the expert on his life. My job is to help him bring out the solutions, so we eliminate the blind spot. He goes away after each session with an action plan and target,” she says.
“You come to me with a goal, and if you achieve a goal – is that not a return on investment?”
“A coach is a one-on-one personal development tool because the thing about coaching is that I provide a safe space for clients to tell me anything that’s bothering and stopping them from moving forward,” she says, adding that some change will even create a ripple effect on one’s life.
She estimates that there are 12,000 people who call themselves “one kind of coach or another” in Malaysia, but of this number, only 600 are certified.
Rohaizan, who is certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF), believes that certification is very important. “Coaching is not just about the process, it demonstrates a certain competency that you have practised. Like ICF core competency, you have to comply with its ethical guidelines and professional standards. As a coach, I went through a personal transformation myself,” she says.
Nik points out that certification enables you to determine whether a particular coach is qualified to guide a client in his career.
“What is more important behind every certification acquired is the learning process,” he says. “Having the right knowledge and guidance from a world-recognised body is very important, as it will add to the credibility of a career coach.”
This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 274.