People want to help you, so let them 🤝 Things I learned from my career coach

Oh hello! I always thought I knew how to job hunt. I mean, how hard could it be?

Write your resume, shop it around to every business that’s hiring and cross your fingers. Statistically, someone is bound to hire you.

With each subsequent job hunt since my teens, I learned a little more, tailored my resume to showcase my new skills and incrementally found better work. I thought that was the only key to finding my next job - turns out there was so much more to job hunting than just a resume.

Here’s the story of how a career coach made me a more successful job seeker (after I checked my ego.)

In 2012, after almost three years of work in the newspaper industry, I was restructured and offered severance that included three months of career coaching.

Career coaching? *pfft. I knew what I was doing… didn’t I?

For the next few weeks, I hit the pavement the way I usually did: sending resume after resume, filling out application after application. I didn’t give the coach a second thought because, for some reason, admitting I needed coaching was like admitting defeat.

It was weeks into the hunt and many rejections later that the thought occurred to me: I could be out of work longer than anticipated - so I finally caved and called the coach.

My coach, Monica and I went over all the basics and sharpened the areas I didn’t know needed sharpening - like writing resumes tailored to specific audiences (you mean one size doesn’t fit all?) and framing each bullet point to focus on the results you produced, not just the tasks you completed in your role.

As a growing marketer, I’d often tell interviewers that I bought ad space, created email newsletters, ran contests, hosted events and more, to which they’d asked me “what result did that produce?”

This question always confused me, as I’d just assumed that people understood the value I brought, but the reality is we’re not all marketers.

As the ones being interviewed, it’s on us to to show the interviewer how we positively affect their organization.

Each week I would report back to Monica on my progress, proudly stating how many resumes I’d sent - but I still had no job offers. Then she asked me how many networking meetings had I taken.

“What’s a networking meeting?”

I honestly had no idea what she meant. She explained to me that…

The goal of networking is to build a relationship with someone and discover how you can help them.

I specifically noticed she didn’t say “how they can help you.”

She suggested I aim to have 10 networking meetings each week and to aim outside of my immediate network of friends and family.

The idea a complete stranger would want to network with me was confusing - why would they want to speak with me?

Turns out, there are plenty of people with valuable knowledge out there - and they would be happy to share it with you.

I’d gotten introduced to the brother of one of my former colleagues who worked at a radio station. I met him for coffee, we got along great and he was kind enough to take me on a tour of his office on Toronto’s waterfront.

At the end of our meeting, he said “I’m sorry, Richard, but there aren’t any jobs available for you right now.”

SEE?! What a waste of time, I thought. Why should I bother networking with people if I wasn’t going to get a job from them? Plus, one of the next resumes I sent out landed me a job in the toy industry, so networking was a moot point.

Fast forward to 2016 and I found myself on the job hunt again. Having grown a little wiser, I reached back out to my radio contact for a lunch meeting - this time, however, as I was explaining what I was looking for, he stopped me and told me there was a role that could be a great fit for me.

He set up further introductions to who would become my boss at the radio company and the lesson finally became clear. People want to help you - if not now, then maybe some day. You just have to be patient.

My career coach taught me many tactical things and helped me develop the soft skills necessary to build and cultivate a network of wonderful relationships.

Certainly, not everyone needs a coach, but if you’re thinking about hiring one, the right coach is worth so much more than the investment. Plus, it’s always a good idea to invest in yourself.

A coach will help you find your blind spots, challenge you and ultimately change you for the better.

New networking contacts will give you a fresh perspective and open up possible job opportunities for you now or down the road.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, like I was before, because there are so many people who want to support you and see you succeed - if you just let them.

Richard Gawlas