At the start of the clients’ career transition they may have a number of questions about what they want to do in their career, and/or what they really want to gain from the transition process. However, the career manager may have just as many clients that are crystal clear in their career ambitions and goals, and what they want to achieve through counseling.
The purpose of the first step in exploration is to spend time investigating the clients’ current career situation, the challenges they are facing, and their overall goals. It is also intended to get them thinking about their career in a different way—in the broader context of their life as a whole. Doing so will help the CM get to know them better as people, as well as getting to know what is currently going on in their life and career. It will also help clients to organize and clarify their thoughts, which will help them better define and communicate career needs and goals.
CMs will begin with a discussion of career influences and other important considerations for the client’s career decision making. Then, the client will spend some time reflecting on and recording their initial career thoughts, goals, questions, and concerns. CMs will use what they collect during this step as input later.
Gathering Client Information
Before you can begin to effectively coach a client, you must gather personal information. This information is typically stored in many places such as an intake form, electronic file system, manual file system, email contact files or a CRM system. There is no right way to store the data, but you must take measures to ensure the information is secure and maintained so that confidentiality can be maintained. Basic information include:
- Marital status
- Current job title
- Work status (employed, unemployed)
Background information is important because it gives you insight into why your client thinks and acts the way they do. It reveals certain family expectations and beliefs that could impact the coaching or career change process.
- Family structure
- Parental occupations
- Educational background
- Work history
- Outside interests
- Health issues
You will also begin to gather critical information from clients during the first few meetings.
- What brings you here?
- Why now?
- Why did you select me as a coach?
- What do you know about the career coaching process?
- What barriers are you experiencing that are holding you back from achieving your goals?
- What have you done to date to facilitate change?
- When and where were you born?
- What is your current financial status? (Asked to identify any financial pressures.)
- Tell me about your parents, siblings, & significant others.
- Tell me about the jobs you have had (summary only).
- Are you married? How old is your spouse? What does s/he do?
- Do you have any children? How old are they? What grades are they in?
- Are there any other members in your family? (Anything that might impact the client’s career.)
- Did you go to college/graduate school (or high school if no college)? (Degrees earned or incomplete.)
- Did you or do you participate in any extracurricular activities?
- Do you have any other training or certificates? Have you attended any workshops? Are you continuing your adult education? Are you getting a license, etc.?
- What is your occupational history?
- What did you like about each job? Dislike? Why?
- How well were needs (money, status, environment, social needs, intellectual stimulation) met?
- How were values met or unmet on each job?
- Why did you leave previous jobs?
- Why are their gaps in your job history?
- What were the pros and cons for your last role? (Ask this of every role.)
- Do you do any volunteer work? Internships? Did you work while in high school?
- Do you have any hobbies?
- Are you a member of any clubs, professional organizations, etc.?
- Do you have any social commitments?
- What kinds of magazines or papers do you subscribe to? (Clarify if the client states “I like to read . . .”)
- Do you like to work with any specific tools or equipment (including office machinery)?
Vocation/World of Work
- What are your beliefs about the world of work? How did you form these messages or beliefs?
- How did you envision your career when you were young?
- What kinds of career ideas do you have now?
- Where did they come from?
- Have you done anything about them?
- What actions have you taken and what were the results?
- Do you have a “dream” job?
- What are your strengths/needs/fears?
- What are your job requirements? [Salary, geographic/commute, values, setting (big/small, public/private, supervision/autonomy/self-employment)]
- Are there any potential hurdles that you may encounter, such as DMV, transportation, convictions, substance abuse, child/spouse/parent care, stressors (family, finances, health, etc.)?
- Did your past career decisions result from chance, circumstance, word of mouth, planning, or another process?
- Who influenced your career choices?
- Is this situation a crisis or is timing flexible?
Once you have enough information, you can begin to assimilate it and really get to understand the client and his/her goals. It is at this point that you can begin to add value and help them achieve their desired career goals.