14 Oct 6 Reasons You Need To Hire a Coach to Help You In Your Mid-Career Change Or Transition
The term ‘mid-career’ broadly applies to anyone with about 10-12 plus years of professional experience across varied roles, domains, organizations. Mid-career usually refers to a stage where you want to take more deliberate and conscious choices about your career. Moreover, in the first 10-15 years of your career, through your different experiences, you may have some thoughts about what skills you have, how you like applying those skills and in what contexts, and what you don’t enjoy doing.
Mid career is also a time of unexpected changes and challenges that have an impact on your work choices. When companies undergo restructuring, it is usually the middle layer of people that gets impacted most. You may also find that around this time, you start feeling disconnected with your career, because you didn’t choose it in the first place, rather your career may be the result of your educational choices made earlier. Whatever the reasons, mid-career is the time when you have to start directing your career and choices more thoughtfully and based on understanding your parameters of success and satisfaction.
So what are some reasons that you need to hire a mid-career coach, who can help you navigate this career transition phase and emerge with greater clarity, conviction and energy to drive your future career?
You need to know what success looks like for you to make the right mid career change
1. Hire a coach when you aren’t clear about what success looks like for you:
If you’re not certain about what factors of success resonate with you, then it’s very difficult to move forward and even set goals for yourself. Working with a coach at mid career to clarify what success looks like for you entails examining your experiences and other influences which impact the sense of success you feel or don’t feel in your career. Coaching enables you to look at inner (what matters to you) and outer dimensions (what is commonly understood as) of success and prioritize. For instance, too often success tends to be measured through status, money, fame etc. Even then, to each individual a different level of these may signify success and coaching gives you a clearer picture of what level is the right level for you and what combination of different success factors works uniquely well for you. For instance, success may mean more responsibility to you while to another it may mean more public visibility. When you have clarity on what your definition of success is, you will take much more concrete and meaningful actions towards it.
If you can’t define success, you cant go after it, so if you feel unsure about what success looks like, it’s a surefire sign that you need to seek coaching for mid career change.
2. Hire a coach when you need to know what gaps you must fill for your next career move:
Sometimes you know which direction you want to take in your career, but you don’t know how well equipped you are to proceed. In other words, there may be a gap between your current abilities, skills and strengths and what is required at a place that you want to be in future. But you don’t know the extent of this gap.
Coaching can be valuable at this stage to analyse the gap and create a plan to plug this gap. For instance, if you want to switch domains /functions vis-à-vis grow in the same organization, you may need to close the skills gap in very different ways. Your coach can work with you to identify strengths and skills from previous experiences and assess them against skills required in what you want to move towards. You will also need to look at the kind of professional relationships you need for your next career move. A structured gap analysis is highly useful to chart out your next steps as you not only look at gaps, but also identify actions and timelines to work on these. In fact, starting at mid career, it is recommended to do such a gap analysis every year, so you are constantly keeping an eye on your long term career success strategy and taking actions in line with these.
Explore new roles with the support of a coach
3. Hire a coach when you need to explore new work roles:
Perhaps you’ve realized that you don’t connect with the core domain/function you are in. For instance, many people we have coached who start out their careers in finance after an accounting degree, find themselves wanting to explore new domains and functions. But that doesn’t mean that their experiences and qualifications until then have to come to naught.
Coaching can help you to research new roles that you can quickly transition into at mid-career, in a way that combines your strengths, the experiences you have gained so far and your foundational skills. Coaches who work with mid career individuals help them to identify transferable skills and also build a career narrative which can propel them into new roles.
4. Hire a coach when you are considering creating your own opportunity:
For some mid career individuals, starting out on your own may be a powerful shift which puts you in the driver’s seat. You can choose what kind of work excites you and this is also a good way to utilize your different skills, some of which may not be getting adequately used in your existing role.
But from the comfort of a job, which gives you a steady income, where your work is defined to a great extent, taking the leap into creating your own opportunity is uncertain and scary. While you may have a solid understanding of your skills and the opportunities in the market, you may need other kinds of support such as being able to draw up a financial plan which gives you security for this phase of your career. Also, since you may leave an established set up where you had bosses, mentors and peers who you could talk things over, having a coach who keeps you focused can be a great resource. You also need to persevere in doing almost everything on your own in the early part of starting out and it can be lonely and exhausting. Here again, a coach can be hugely supportive.
Learning new skills to stay current is a key part of mid career change
5. Hire a coach when you need to evaluate new professional upskilling programs/degrees:
Staying current and updated with your skills and expertise is a deal breaker for those who are keen on mid career change. With the plethora of learning options available today, which are also more accessible and affordable, employers expect that those who want to switch into certain industries/functions/ kinds of roles, would take the initiative to suitably upskill themselves for this.
This makes it imperative to know what skills you should invest in, and how they will match up to your desired or target roles/functions. Expert coaches who specialize in mid career change, not only have external perspective of the job market and skills required, they can help you customize your learning and skilling path so that you become ready for mid-career change. One more advantage of working with a coach for mid career change is that they keep you firmly on the learning track, by breaking down your learning goals into specific, smaller skills and how you can work on them.
6. Hire a coach when you need to develop a parallel or side career :
Before committing to a major career change, you may need to test the waters by developing a parallel career or side projects. This allows you to acquire new skills, knowledge which can be a bridge between your current work and the direction towards which you want to change.
However, you need a clear set of criteria and an unbiased view of your skills and strengths as you go about choosing which parallel career to develop. Very often, we come across mid career professionals who have a wishful desire to engage in more of their interests or hobbies. But then they sometimes mistake this to be an idea to be developed into a parallel career. Knowing whether your interests and hobbies are meant to be pursued as just that versus having a sufficiently good degree of skills in those areas, takes some objective and unbiased thinking. Here, a career coach can be the neutral observer and give you an honest assessment of how you can go about developing a parallel career.
The desire for change is quite reasonable; in fact, it can be a good thing! The smart way to go about a mid career change is to do the right amount of self-evaluation, experimentation and seeking feedback. Coaching for mid career change can vastly benefit mid career individuals in all these areas and is highly recommended to ensure continuous growth and reinvention in one’s career.
Kavita, an alumna of IIM Ahmedabad, brings 18 years of experience in Experiential Learning, Coaching, Personal Growth & Change. Her forte is Career Transition Coaching and Leadership Development for mid-senior individuals, helping them find success and fulfilment at work . She also teaches Career & Self Development courses at leading management institutes including IIM Kozhikode, IIM Udaipur, IIM Indore and at the IITs.