Spring c.a.r.e.e.r.c.o.a.c.h.i.n.g

[by Suzanne Heerschop] Alright, here I am. Laptop in front of me, cup of tea within reach, getting ready for the confrontation. A career choice test. All of a sudden I feel like a 15 year old, in the office of my school career advisor. Distant memories of posters with slogans like “A smart young woman takes her future seriously” appear in my mind. Yes, a great slogan, but how are you supposed to prepare for a professional career if you’re only 15 and not even sure whether you’re infatuation with grunge is permanent or whether that’s just a phase you’re going through?

Fortunately my nose piercing was easily removable without permanent damage. Also the green hair dye grew out by itself. Just aspects of a temporary adopted style. The idea of you as a person continuously changes and this also applies to your career ambitions. Otherwise I am sure all my former class mates would have now turned into actors and firemen.

Anyway, now I’m in my early thirties and have just finished my first “grown-up” job. Here I am getting ready for the second phase of my work life, third if you count all the part-time jobs

Filling out quizzes is something that us women still take a liking to, so I happily tick my answers. Not entirely surprising my end result shows creative and people orientated as above average. This was my score 15 years ago and still is the case today. Clearly these are the traits firmly rooted in my character. Pretty comforting to see this confirmed on paper again, but what’s next?

A couple of days later I have agreed to meet Maartje. I’ve met her through my network and she told me she works as a career coach. Well, that sounds fancy. Can that also be considered a profession these days? In first instance I was somewhat critical, considering the fact that these days coaching seems to be something that you can pick up at the supermarket when you shop for x amount. But when Maartje explained to me exactly what she does, I realised she was addressing the issue I was struggling with. You’ve been working for a while. You’re doing ok and you are making a living, but what’s next? How can you develop yourself further? What do you ultimately want to achieve? And what do you need in order to do so?

So I agreed on a follow up meeting with Maartje. Our conversation started off by looking at the career test. We discussed the outcomes at a pavement café in the sun. This is not something that Maartje can guarantee, by the way, the sunshine. We were just lucky. What Maartje did was using the career test as a starting point to discuss how I can position myself. What do you do in certain situations and what can you take out of it? Thus we filtered out my core competencies and wishes for the future.

Surprisingly simple really but Maartje was able to hit the right tone and ask the right questions to hold me a mirror. Though this time the conversation was far from those I used to have with my school career choice advisor. Not a stiff riddle that needs to be hummed. Our meeting was just easy going, or casual professional  to use a hip term for it. It felt like having a coffee with a friend, though one with a pretty solid background in c.a.r.e.e.r.c.o.a.c.h.i.n.g.

Once back home all the feedback I received trickled through my head. I decided to take matters in my own hands. I’ve made drastic cuts in my CV and threw overboard the layout I was using. I especially worked on stepping up my profile. Who am I, what do I offer and what am I searching for. Maartje gave me the feedback I needed right at that moment to boost my job search. That same week I’ve sent out several letters with my new CV with fitting pride. In the mean time I’ve been invited for a 2nd interview with a potential future employer. I feel confident.

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