I work with clients in all kinds of career transition: dissertation writers trying to get from PhD candidate to graduate, assistant faculty trying to get the articles published so they can get promoted to associate, young graduates looking for their first job, mid-career professionals who want to go in a different direction. These different groups have a wide variety of career coaching needs, but there are a few common threads that run through all my client interactions.
1) Another pair of eyes. This is just catching the typos, finding the repeat entries, and identifying formatting issues.
Everyone needs this. Whenever I fail to get a second pair of eyes to look over something (or at least do a second read myself), I inevitably find a typo later.
2) An outside party to keep you on track. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the big picture prospects involved in these huge life changes. It’s important to manage the tasks before you and to treat yourself fairly.
I work with my clients to break down the seemingly insurmountable tasks into smaller, more manageable component parts. Then we make itemized to-do lists for each part and design a realistic schedule. I send reminders and check-in frequently.
3) A trial run. Everyone is nervous to share their materials. They’re afraid of rejection.
Often, you don’t really want feedback. Because you’ve worked so hard on it already, you don’t want to put more work into changing it. By running it through me, you get a low stakes first round at putting yourself out there, sharing your materials, and trying out your interview answers.
3) Anxiety reduction. The number one thing I do for my clients is believe in them. There’s so much self-doubt surrounding academic writing, career changes, career transitions, interview skills, writing skills. I can see past the anxiety to identify where your strengths lie, what you’re good at, how to get from where you are to where you want to be, and how to work your way through that process.
As you work through your career transitions, be aware of these key things. Make sure you have a trusted second pair of eyes to proofread your work. Consciously break down the big tasks into smaller ones and work through them with focus. Know that you’ll have to put yourself out there at some point; so you might as well find a low stakes way to share your materials with someone who doesn’t have the power to make decisions about your future. And believe in yourself–be aware of your strengths and play to them; be aware of your weaknesses and seek ways to overcome them; and take the process one step at a time.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in academic writing, job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: email@example.com