Career Coaching Part 1: Why a careers coach? And finding a Careers Coach.

I have had a lot of questions about my recent experience with my career coach and what better way to spread the knowledge than through blog posts. In this first instalment I’ll cover why I decided on a career coach and how I found one. Everything in this post is from my point of view (graciously read over by my career coach to make sure I didn’t get any facts incorrect!), which means that everything in here undoubtedly will not work for everyone, but it might help you if you’ve been considering a career coach, what to expect, and how to find one!

I feel like I should say here this blog isn’t an ad! I wanted to do this, I paid for my career coaching sessions, and asked my career coaches’ permission to write about her and her services afterwards, and here we are!

Why?

You might wonder how I even realised I needed a career coach. I kind of didn’t fully realise straight off the bat, but having seen a couple of counsellors in different places for different reasons I felt like they weren’t getting my specific struggles with work so why not find a specialist? I think I’d heard the phrase banded about, but it sat in my brain somewhere where the stereotype of CEOs sits. Only big hot shot people need career coaches surely? To tell them what big important thing to do next right? It’s probably super important and really deep.

But hey! Shock, horror, or not so much, career coaching can be for everyone. I’d left my previous job as I knew it wasn’t right for me. I’ve had this weird mix of contracted roles, zero hours, short term jobs, as well as a few permanent positions thrown in. I noticed my pattern. I’d very rarely really thought about what a job meant to me. I thought I knew the area I wanted to be in and what I liked doing, but as you see the end in sight of a short-term contract (and really when is that? Having been on 6 month and shorter roles you’re basically just always looking, wanting to enjoy the job you’re currently in sometimes, but knowing you gotta jump ship at some point to make that £££).

My “career” pattern is as follows:

Short term contract > oh my gosh a permanent thing but it’s not quite right but OMG permanent money > oh no this is bad I do not like this > gotta get out > ooh a temp job I like. Better than nothing right? > Oh no temp job gonna end in X months quick find any permanent job > permanent job achieved > oh no I hate this.

Ad infinitum. Except I realised I didn’t want it to be ad infinitum.

A very outdated, probably not great mental health wise, phrase that struck a chord with me, paraphrased, is “madness is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.”

This quote is misattributed to Einstein FREQUENTLY, you can read more about it in this article, and thank you to Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist who I believe came up with the quote. I could get jobs…but they were rarely the right job. I felt I needed “outside my brain” help to break the cycle.

Prep

A lot of people asked me how I found my career coach and honestly, I started by googling. I’m pretty certain I put something in like “Career Coach UK” not too fused about location as we were deep in lockdown, WFH, pandemic times!

This was January 2021. I’d quit my permanent job and left at the end of December and was, for the first time since I was 15, not in Education, not Employed, no zero hours jobs…. Completely… Unemployed. I maybe need to write a little blog post on unemployment and career breaks, but it was GOOD. People don’t say this and for lots of reasons. I used my savings to live off. Yes, there was panic. Yes, there was worry. Yes, I am privileged as heck. Yes, I have a partner who alone could support us if it got very very bad and dragged out for too long. I had lots of pros for taking a break and these outweighed the cons. At other points in my life this would not have been possible. I took the leap when I did due to the safety nets I had in place. I know not everyone can do this.

It was scary to quit in a pandemic, but also felt like the best time to explain this kind of gap… as we all have to throughout our lives, whether it’s employment, buying a house, bla bla bla, everyone wants to know when you were unemployed and why. The pandemic kind of felt like a great cover. And like a lot of others, I really felt like “What is going on?! What am I doing in life?!”

Not being in a job was great! I spent January OFF. Looking for a careers coach. Doctors apps. Getting back on my depression meds. Crafting. Relaxing. Not worrying about all the stuff you worry about when you’re in a job that’s not right for you. I did things I liked. I did all the stuff I needed and wanted to do. Stuff I felt I didn’t have time for in my previous job. At my own pace. Wow, it was truly magic. It’s also why I want to push for universal income, why I blab on about wages, working hours, and workers rights. Everything should be better! Everyone should be able to take time off like this when they need! Not just when you have kids, not gender specific (presuming lots of places still give the father only 2 weeks off?!) not just when you’re at your very very worst… before you get there. We should all be allowed more time off, have more holiday and better flexibility over our lives.

Back to careers coaching!

I used this website to begin with, which is actually a life coach directory. I did a lot of searching, I mean a lot, and due to being unemployed and having no commitments I just contacted lots and lots of people to arrange a chat. I think everyone I looked at offered me a complimentary, no fee, chat (I probably wouldn’t trust anyone who wanted me to pay for a chat!) I didn’t just speak to career coaches, I accidently talked to some life coaches, and I also looked up counsellors again, just in case.

Before these phone calls I made a very basic list of what I wanted to talk about. It might have only been 5 bullet points (and it’s okay if these change! Or they’re not super specific! Just write something down so you have a reminder/something to say.)

Mine was something like:

Struggles with work (not getting jobs, but how work works), I don’t feel happy, content, settled in anyway, I don’t know how to find a job I like, I would like a job that pays me more and that I can stay in, I would like a “proper” career.

I also asked the people I gelled with if they could, anonymously of course, share any experiences they’d had with clients. Obviously, anyone can say anything, but it definitely helped me when making a decision.

My Careers Coach

After speaking to maybe 10 people in total. 5 specific career coaches. I chose Jennie-Kate McCreight and her business JKChange Work: Therapeutic Coaching and Personal Change.

Large text in navy that reads "JK Change Work" and underneath in golden yellow "Therapeutic Coaching & Personal Change" beside this is a tree silhouette in solid black and a reflection below but outlined in black with a white fill.


It all came down to instinct honestly. I really clicked with Jennie-Kate on the phone. I felt like she got me. She was honest, funny and warm. I just really liked her. She was also based in Leeds, which I think was a coincidence, but also if I’d have had to go see her, she’s close by.

Costs

As you all know I love talking about money and the cost of everything. I could either set up sessions with Jennie-Kate for £100 for each 90 min session or I could book 4 slots with a discount, which came to £360 (I booked these January 2021 – pricing may vary). This seems like a lot. It is a lot for a lot of people. I decided on 4 as I felt that was a good amount and yes, I wanted the discount! It also felt like it tied me in. I had to commit, which was good for me. Jennie-Kate was actually the most expensive person I talked to, but she was the best fit and not entirely out of my budget. I’d call this the price of what I’ve paid for a week-long European trip – with spending! Cos I’m a cheapskate. So this was my “European” holiday.

Always, always, always ask about cost. A good career coach should broach this fairly early on. Do. Not. Be. Afraid. To. Talk. About. Money.

One of the many reasons I didn’t like the counsellor I saw was because the cost and timings weren’t clear to begin with. I was paying something like £55, every hour, every week! For a period of maybe 3 months or so. I thought I wasn’t “getting” counselling or it took more time. In actuality she was just a bad fit for me and I should have realised that sooner cos DAMN that was a lot of cash.

When I’d decided to progress Jennie-Kate sent me a client registration form that asked for basic details, also things like what I expected from the sessions, structure of sessions, outlined problems/issues/goals/outcomes, what stops me/makes things worse, … lots of really quite deep thought questions.

There were also some medical questions, which I think are important. Someone is going to be doing some what might be, and was for me, quite emotional work. I laid everything out, my depression, my meds, you also have to provide an emergency contact. This is really just good practice so I wouldn’t be shy about anything. The more they know the more that will help.

The Set Up

We set up my first session and went from there. I didn’t book them all in straight away, but I had a sort of dedicated time of 4-5.30pm Mondays. It wasn’t like my counselling experience. I didn’t go every Monday. Mainly because there’s tasks and work to do and that can take time. We booked in my 4 sessions sort of ad hoc between end of January until April 2021 so over a period of 4 months. This worked really well and having that time in between was so useful to think about things, let thoughts settle, and do “homework”.

Jennie-Kate’s coaching is really flexible and can fit round lots of different life styles. She offers face to face sessions, online sessions (so you don’t have to be in Leeds), and she also runs a structured coaching in nature programme through her other service – Where the Mind Grows

You’ll be able to see from her website, but Jennie-Kate offers individual coaching sessions and focuses on many things from managing anxiety, to self-esteem and confidence. And I’m not sure if anyone reading this is in a position to do this, but I think it’s really cool that Jennie-Kate also offers workforce well-being sessions, which are done with businesses or teams in organisations. So if you’re an HR person or manager maybe look into this!

End of Part 1!

And I guess if you’re looking at the cost and thinking “Oh I’m not sure” you could always attend one of Jennie-Kates events.

  • “Freedom to Fail! Creating emotional resilience” has two dates currently:
    • Wednesday 25th August 6pm-10pm BST
    • Saturday 9th October 10.30am-12.30pm BST.
  • Link here for more info!

Okay this is the end of part 1!

Any questions drop them in the comments, contact me here, twitter, etc.

Also if you think you’d like to give Jennie-Kate a call here are her details:

Phone: 07537 922 458

Email: jennie-kate@jkchangework.life

Part 2 coming shortly!

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