7 Trends I’ve Observed as a Career Coach

by | Mar 9, 2024 | career & business, life, real talk, thoughts | 0 comments

I’ve been a career coach and offering my services for over four years and in that time have supported nearly 100 inspiring and high-achieving women. Whether they’ve been looking for a new job, changing careers, seeking a promotion or navigating challenging situations in the workplace, there’s been a few trends I’ve observed.

My hope is that by sharing these insights, you can identify if they resonate with you and if so, make a few changes to further succeed in your career. Read on below!

Kelly shares the things she's observed as a career coach.

Job seekers rely too much on job applications 

There’s a stat out there that states 85% of jobs are filled through networking. I can attest that this rings true for me too; every new job I’ve acquired has been because of a connection. Yet, the majority of job seekers still focus the majority of their job search on applying for jobs online vs. utilizing their network.

In order to have more success when looking for a new job, I recommend spending 80% of your time reaching out and connecting with others and 20% of your time submitting applications vs. the other way around. Take advantage of those in your network or reach out to people you admire and request informational interviews. If you don’t know where to start, download this free networking target list

Being more intentional, focused, and targeted instead of using the ‘spray and pray’ method (as I like to call it) will in turn result in higher chances of being selected for an interview and thus, landing a job offer.

People view networking as a chore 

…I get it. “Networking” is one of those things that many seem to have a love/hate relationship with. Even the suggestion of it is enough to fill people with dread. But it doesn’t have to be that way;  it’s all about changing your perspective on what it really means. Networking at its core is about building and growing relationships – something that’s human nature and innately within us. Heck, you can even consider social events you’re at as potential networking opportunities. When done right, it doesn’t feel superficial or have the ick.

Networking is about giving, rather than taking. When you’re focused on being genuinely curious and authentic, it becomes less about you and more about the person you’re speaking with. Networking is about playing the long game: adding your value where you can and building trust and rapport with others. Think long-term to connect, engage, and share – always asking what it is that you can do to help in return. Over time, your network naturally expands and is there if/when you need to make an ask. 

Most resumes don’t tell a strong story

Here’s the deal – generic resumes are out. Gone are the days where you could use the same resume over and over again to apply to jobs. More than ever, you have to tailor your resume and tell a story. Why? 1) You want to catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye right away based on what they’re looking for 2) More and more companies are using ATS (applicant tracking systems) to parse through resumes that specifically align to the job opening. 

Your resume needs to be targeted to the role you are applying for and it needs to tell a powerful story of why you’re the ideal candidate and best possible hire. Here’s how:

  • Think of your resume as a highlight reel of your work experience instead of a document that has everything you’ve ever done.
  • Storify your experience and accomplishments with a career summary at the top.
  • Summarize/list out your top key skills underneath that align to the job you are applying for.

For more resume tips, head to this blog post, download L&I’s Ultimate Guide to Crafting Your Resume, or schedule a 1:1 free connection call with me so we can discuss your needs! 

Many are not aligning their work with their values

If you are feeling energized, fulfilled, and overall happy, chances are you are aligned with your values. But if you are feeling burnt out, unengaged, or unmotivated, your values may be misaligned with your role, team, or company. Many of the coaching clients I work with are feeling the latter, so as a first step, I help guide them to better understand their values and how they apply them to their job or at work. This is because aligning values with your job and the company you work for is what guides your choices to creating a fulfilling work experience. So, if your values aren’t aligning with your work, changes need to be made.

If you need guidance in identifying and living your work values, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Start with a resource that lists out values, like Brené Brown’s, which are specific to the values we use in the workplace, found here. From there, try to tailor them down to 3-5 that you deem most important.
  • Take stock of how you feel at work. Determine what values are not aligned and how significant they are to you. Is it a minor issue that you can get past or will resolve in time or is it a fundamental value you can’t compromise on?
  • Understand what steps you can take to align with your values, such as:
    • Having a conversation with your manager or an HR representative. Explain your concerns to see if they are open to helping you find a solution to the challenges you are experiencing.
    • Looking for areas at work where your values do align to determine if you can move on from the areas that don’t.
    • Weighing your options and considering if your company is the right workplace for you. If not, it may be time to start making a career move and choosing a new job and company that aligns more closely with your values.
    • Staying true to your values as you approach the job search. Remember what’s most important to you to avoid settling or getting into another situation where you perhaps aren’t happy or fulfilled.
  • Make it a point to periodically check in with yourself no matter what stage of your career you are in to assess how you are feeling. Think of your values as your career compass – they will be your indicator if/when you veer off course and you need to redirect.

Women struggle with self-promotion

I’ve coached some of the brightest, driven women I’ve ever met and yet, one thing remains true for most: they have a difficult time when it comes to self-advocacy and promoting themselves. According to a study done a few years ago, 69% of women prefer to downplay their accomplishments instead of promoting them. Oftentimes, women don’t want to speak up because they don’t want the attention on themselves or they don’t know how to be confident in their accomplishments.

But why is this? Those who feel they don’t self-advocate enough or at all cite fear or anxiety as the principal reason. In a study done by Indeed last year, 59% admitted to general shyness or anxiety, 43% mentioned fear of retribution and 31% said they feared being labeled aggressive. Many women hold themselves back because they are fearful of what the outcomes may be if they speak up and advocate for themselves. But what’s the alternative – not doing it all? 

Regardless of what stage of your career you are in and whether you are hybrid/remote/or in the office, it’s important for women especially to:  

  • Take ownership – Take an active role in your career by reflecting, mapping out, and actioning your career goals and seeking out opportunities and resources that align with those. You can utilize L&I’s Career Development Plan to help with this.
  • Master the art of self-promotion – Self-promotion is just that – an art. To do this effectively, you need to document and surface your contributions to your manager and leadership and tie them back to impact and results. For tips on how to do this, head to this blog post.
  • Get visible with intention – This means seeking out strategic ways you can grow your thought leadership, boost your personal brand and gain exposure. Here are some ways you can get started.

Women are extremely hard on themselves

No matter what their age or how many years of experience they have, my coaching clients go through periods of being too hard on themselves. These are the most common scenarios I’ve seen:

  • Women feel like imposters and like they need to know it all right away. Here’s the thing: everyone starts as a beginner. If you’re new to a company, new in a role, or new to learning a skill, give yourself some grace to learn and grow. Those that have come before you and those that come after you will be navigating the same uncomfortableness – you are not alone.
  • Women feel like they’ve failed when they are put into situations like a job rejection or a company lay off. Firstly, remember it is not personal. Secondly, see your setbacks as challenges to grow and be resilient. Overcoming career obstacles is part of life and what you can do is learn from the experience to help you get ready for the next opportunity.
  • Women feel like they always have to be excelling. What I’ve seen is that these women are excelling but feel the pressure to do more. You’re likely already doing enough. Take a step back to recognize the amount of work you put in on a day-to-day basis at work. Know that some days may be more demanding than others and that it’s okay to let slow days be slow. Sometimes we need that mental break more than we know. I also encourage my clients if other aspects of their lives are more in-demand than work, it’s okay to ‘coast’ with your job and do only what is expected of you. You don’t always need to be going above and beyond, especially when your time and energy are running thin.

Women lack confidence in their abilities 

One of the biggest things I notice as a career coach is the lack of confidence women have in themselves. They are not alone – the unfortunate truth is that women are often less confident than men, even when their abilities are equal. This is known as the confidence gap, which begins early in life, as girls are often discouraged from taking risks and being assertive. This lack of confidence follows women into adulthood and is exacerbated in the workplace. It results in women feeling that they are not good enough, their opinions don’t matter, and they are not as capable as their male counterparts, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

My clients and I work together on their career challenges they come to me for and their confidence naturally grows with each session. Here are a few things we do:

  • I help them understand and assess their strengths through a series of activities or strength assessments, such as the Cliftons StrengthFinder. Knowing these can help clarify your career goals and stay in tune with how you can continue to add value at work.
  • I empower them to ask others for input and feedback on where they excel. Getting first-hand accounts of their work from those you work with (i.e. customers, leaders, managers, or teammates) can remind you just how incredible you are.
  • I encourage them to revisit past feedback and career wins in their Accomplishment Tracker (you can download yours here). Re-reading these, especially on a not-so-great day, can be the mood booster you need.
  • I validate them. At the end of the day, I know my coaching clients know deep down what they want and what they need to do to accomplish it. Sometimes it takes an unbiased perspective of support to push you to your potential.

In my post-coaching feedback survey, one of the questions I ask my coaching clients is what they’ve gained from coaching. I’d say 9/10 times, their answer includes confidence

If you would like to boost your self-confidence when it comes to your career and are curious about working together, take a look at the services I offer as a career coach here and feel free to reach out!

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Welcome to Lipstick & Ink®, your home for everything career and life inspired. I’m Kelly, a Chicago-based career coach, branding consultant, and speaker.

Whether we’re working together on achieving your career aspirations, refreshing your professional documents, or crafting your brand, think of me as your career sidekick who is going to push you to your potential and cheer you on every step of the way.

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