Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What is the Process?

When potential clients call, they always want to know what the process of career coaching is. Embedded in their query are three specific questions: “What will we work on?” “How long will it take?” and, “What results can I expect?” These are critical questions to ask before embarking on a career coaching process, not to only to understand what you are in for, but also to know whether the process will be worth your time, effort, and money.

The first question, what will we work on, is person-specific. What this means is that the work is adapted to your needs, your style, and your readiness. So, when you first contact me, I will ask to know about your most urgent or pressing questions and issues. For example, are you early in a job search and needing to learn techniques or are you further along and stymied by specific parts of the process? Are you wanting to make a career change, and if so, are you clear about your new direction or do you need helping in deciding among competing possibilities? I will also want to understand your style and temperament. Are you an extravert or an introvert? Are you aggressive, assertive, passive, or shy? Are you a linear and concrete thinker or are you more organic and intuitive? And, I will also build your readiness into the equation, so I will be exploring your motivation, your sense of urgency, and adding my assessment of how disciplined you are likely be in the process. All of these factor into what we will work on, how we do the work together, and of course, is subject to adjustment throughout the coaching process.

The second question, how long it will take, which I addressed in a previous blog entry, is indeterminate because much of the process is beyond your control and mine. In general, however, I work with clients for 3-5 sessions before they have enough clarity and structure to move the process forward on their own. Sometimes, one session is enough, and other times, many sessions won’t do the trick. Once I sense that your momentum is self-sustaining, we will be done with our work. I do, however, often continue to meet with clients on an as needed basis to help get through stuck places, waning motivation, or to deal with specific issues, like negotiating a job offer or dealing with a problematic work situation.

Finally, you can expect to achieve close to a 100% success rate, meaning that you will get your issues and questions resolved. There is a large caveat, however, and this has to do with your willingness to stay with the process long enough to achieve those results. This implies that you are both the owner and driver of your career development (I’m your guide and facilitator) and that you develop the patience and persistence to see it through to the finish. When I’m asked about my success rate, I answer that the process works for everyone who is willing to give the necessary effort.

Let me know if you have additional questions about career coaching. Best wishes.

Mark Guterman

Monday, June 2, 2008


I recently read an article at called Today’s Accounting Crop: Spoiled Rotten? The theme of the article is centered on how CFOs and senior finance professionals view the career expectations of today’s new accounting professionals entering into the corporate job market. Though the content of the article speaks specifically to the accounting and finance profession, I think the points discussed apply to many professions within the Bay Area job market. Actually, not long ago my brother-in-law who is an executive level engineer with a major technology company spoke to me about how he thought today’s junior engineers enter the job market with unreasonable expectations about career growth.

Many senior managers remember when they got started in their careers, they accepted the unofficial requirement of starting at the bottom and working their way up. By contrast, today’s junior professional wants it all now! The impression is they expect high pay, significant responsibility, and rapid career growth the minute they walk in the door.

Generationally, most of today’s senior management professionals are usually Baby Boomers, and in recent years Generation X folks have also moved into this group. When both of these generations entered the job market for the first time, the world of work, and career expectations looked a bit different than they do today. One needed to start at the bottom, take less pay, work long hours, and perform tasks that were less developmentally stimulating. If one did well, they would eventually move into a role of greater responsibility, with good pay, and strategic significance. People also tended to stay with organizations longer. Even though it may not have been reality, there was a sort of unwritten contract that if someone did good work and stuck around, the organization would take care of them.

In the1990s things changed. People changed jobs a lot more frequently; companies got bought, merged, consolidated, re-organized. Employees learned very quickly that organizations could no longer make guarantees of long term job stability. Baby Boomers and Generations Xers had to learn to evolve to this new world of work. For today’s new professional it’s the norm. They approach opportunities with shorter term goals and expectations. They look to gain as much substantive exposure as possible in order to enhance their long term career sustainability. They are just as committed to hard work as baby boomers and generation Xers, but they expect a more immediate return on investment for their efforts.

When it comes to hiring, to overcome the generational divide and attract talent, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers should be careful not to compare or frame their own early professional experiences, challenges, and agendas, with the goals, and expectations of today’s junior professional. At the same time, today’s entry level professional should be aware and appreciate that most senior level decision makers entered the job market at a different time, where longer term commitment to the organization, and more gradual pragmatic career progression was the norm.

Alchemy Career Services conducts workshops on generations coming together in the workplace.

--Steve Hernandez