Career coaches can help you map out a career plan

Career coaches can help IT managers find new opportunities and map out long-term plans. Before you sign up, you should know what a coach can do for you and the costs involved.
Written by David Southgate, Contributor
Career coaches can help IT managers find new opportunities and map out long-term plans. Before you sign up, you should know what a coach can do for you and the costs involved.

If you're an IT manager who dreads Sunday evening — the thought of going to work that next morning driving you to despair — it might be time to do some soul searching and career research.

Whether you are looking to find a new job or simply advance in your current profession, career coaches could be an option to help you plan for future career growth. But before you make up your mind about coaching, you need to know what a coach can do for you, the associated costs, and how to find one.

The need for a career coach
While many companies include career path planning within their HR environments — incorporating it into annual reviews and initiating and supporting internal mentoring programs — it's technically a temporary career program, as it's tied to your current employment.

In addition, many corporate career planning processes tend to set annual goals, not long-term career paths, which can quickly fall by the wayside when an employee gets laid off or quits.

While mentoring can be a crucial career aid, that relationship can often end or slowly fade when the colleagues are no longer working together. Losing a mentor, like this one described by a TechRepublic member, could easily stall career aspirations:

"My current boss has been an invaluable mentor," said Tom Heisey, manager of computer assistance and training at the College of Human Sciences, TTU. In order to obtain a promotion, Heisey's boss helped him understand business topics when he returned to the university to double major in business administration and electronic systems technology.

"Along the way, he also helped me with office politics, budgets and funding, career advancement, and organising my work load," added Heisey.

Bosses acting as mentors obviously have a vested interest in seeing that employees achieve the desired outcome. However, the relationship may simply end when the professional leaves or is laid off. That support line can be a tough tool to replace when tech leaders find themselves on their own in terms of career planning.

Finally, when faced with the task of going it alone, few actually have the personal discipline, time, or savvy to map out their employment path or even the wherewithal to plot a course for career satisfaction, according to career experts.

"Most people spend more time putting together a tailgate party than planning for their careers," said Marta Driesslein, a senior consultant at R.L. Stevens & Associates Inc., which provides customised career programs and assistance.

In contrast to corporate planning and mentoring, career planners are neutral participants who help draw forth a person's goals to create a long-range blueprint for success. A good career coach can help professionals map out anywhere from a two- to 10-year career plan. And unlike self-directed goal setting, the career coach is there to keep the professional accountable.

"Career coaching is focused on the future, focused on marketing, and focused on looking at you as a package and determining what you need to do to create an excitement for your skills and competencies," said Driesslein.

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