Many people have heard of mentors, sponsors, career counselors, and career coaches, but what is the difference, and how can they help you achieve your career goals?
Many women manage to advance in their careers independently, and maybe you think, “Hey, I got this.” While you can always face career advancement and career goals alone, having a trusted resource in your career is sometimes necessary and can accelerate your results.
Why would I need to hire someone?
If you’ve tried some things and you’re not getting the advancement the way you want, it might be time to enlist some help.
I remember when I graduated college, and I got my first job, I was very excited. I thought career advancement was something I could do without an outside resource because career advancement just seemed like something that naturally happened.
I thought companies had processes that would let everybody advance at the same rates in the same ways. After some time, I learned the career paths I expected to be in place often were non-existent or often weren’t followed.
Beyond the career paths and advancement tracks, there were always exceptions to the rules. So, while the set career paths were used for the majority of the employees, there were cases where exceptions were made, and certain employees were brought in and advanced regardless of the process in place.
Each person’s career experience is different. When we see others advancing and taking on new opportunities while we remain stagnant, it can leave us feeling uncertain and undervalued especially when we want more for our careers. Still, our bosses aren’t approaching us for advancement. This situation can even make us doubt ourselves and think we are unsuitable for this position, even if we know we love and excel in what we do.
So why aren’t we advancing?
Social media has conditioned us to think we should be able to figure everything out independently. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help when we are stuck on things we need help with, like our careers in particular.
Here’s the mistake I made, as I was stuck in my career, I wasn’t considering hiring professional help. My plan was to work hard, and I wholeheartedly believed that if I worked hard enough, had results, and gave more and more that I would be noticed and promoted.
What I failed to realize with my limited knowledge of how career progression work is promotions at the lower levels of an organization happen for vastly different reasons than at the upper levels.
To achieve my career goals, I needed a different plan and viewpoint that I’d not yet learned since I’d never been in the upper ranks previously.
Perhaps a career professional is a missing link in your career progression. Let’s explore each type of career professional and how they can aid your career goals.
Which one is the right option for you?
You can have mentors at work and outside of work. A mentor shares their experience with you and how they got the success they have. Their advice is based on their experience. They have learned some lessons in their own career, and enlisting them in your career can help you avoid unnecessary obstacles.
Mentors will point you toward success in the same way they got there. But each of us experiences different things. While having a mentor is great, it’s wise to consider that they won’t know everything because they are basing it all on their specific experience.
You may be in a different organization, have a different manager, be a different gender, etc – so everything may not work the same for you.
A sponsor is different from a mentor in a couple of ways. Sponsors will always work within your organization and takes an invested interest in you – their role is to help you advance. The sponsor is most often higher than you in the organization but may not always be on the exact path you are looking to take.
You can expect your sponsor to put your name forward positively when they’re in a room where you’re not. Sponsors promote how you would be a good fit for an opportunity, be it a promotion or project, and their goal is to help you advance in your career.
Having a sponsor is wonderful because you have somebody on the inside circle that’s ensuring you are known and afford opportunities you may not have otherwise known of.
Unfortunately, not all sponsors are created equal. Ensure your sponsor believes in you, sees your potential, and actively gives you opportunities. If they are failing to meet these requirements, then it would be wise to learn how you can change sponsorship.
A lot of career counselors work at universities or career centers. They are trained in careers from an academic standpoint. Meaning the strategies they use most are proven scientifically. It’s common for career counselors to use tools Strengthsfinder Assessments and DISC Assessments, amongst others.
Their role is to assess your skills, and abilities, and review your career assets like cover letters and resumes as they work to help you achieve your career goals. Sometimes, counselors will tell you to get additional education or certifications that will benefit your career plan, and they can help you know where to go to find employment opportunities.
While they are a great choice when entering the workforce or if your considering a career change and are unsure what direction to go or if you need help finding career opportunities.
Last but not least is a career coach. Career coaching is a relatively new field, but it’s growing rapidly as employees realize the importance of having a trusted advisor outside their company.
A career coach is typically someone who has excelled in their career after feeling stuck or someone who has experience in either recruiting or human resources and now dedicates their knowledge to helping professionals excel.
The role of the career coach is to help you achieve your career goals, and the best career coaches help you exceed your goals while helping you create a life you love.
While a coaching certification or a certain level of career achievement isn’t required to become a career coach, it is wise to select a career coach that not only knows how to advance but one who has advanced and is certified in coaching.
Certified coaches know how to ask the right questions to help you achieve your desires and not theirs. They pull from their experience where necessary, but they know you have a great deal of knowledge of your specific situation.
A great career coach will not only be certified and have achieved results in their career, but they will also have a clear cut repeatable system for their clients to follow. A clear system allows you to have confidence you will be able to achieve the same results while saving time and money.
Career coaches work one-on-one with clients, and often they will work in groups to make the services more affordable. It’s essential to find a career coach that doesn’t insist you go in the direction they teach.
In some cases, coaches help people advance in their careers by telling them to switch jobs which I think isn’t the best option all the time. That’s why you’ll want to find a career coach willing to understand where you’re at and who will take the time to listen to you to help formulate the plan that will work best for your career advancement.
If you are struggling in your career, consider finding a coach. If you’d like to schedule a complimentary Accelerated Career Clarity Call, I’d love to assist you in your career journey.
Many different types of career professionals can serve you in your career. Being willing to seek another voice in your career can help you achieve your goals more easily.
Find someone who has been where you’re looking to go with experience in that area, not just the knowledge of how to do it.
The most important thing is finding somebody who aligns with your goals and will help you advance your career.
Cheers to your career!