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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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Tips & Training

Tools for a career development upturn in an economic downturn

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road … Unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller

Your clients don’t have to go down with the economy and neither does their career development. The difference is that they may feel they do not have much control over the economy, but they can control the effort they put toward their career development.

You can help your client go from a place where they feel the economy controls their lives (external locus of control), to a state of empowerment, where they take control of their career amid a changing economy and other external factors (an internal locus of control)

In this article, I will share six common life coaching tools that you can use in career development planning with your clients to generate a career upturn. These tools can provide a structure  during these times of uncertainty and help your clients apply their energy to areas they have (or believe they have) control over.

Tools for a career upturn
1. The “proper” mindset

Your client will need a RHOPE: Resiliency, Hope, Optimism, Personal Agency, Emotional Intelligence.

You may already have a client that possess these attributes and if not, they can be nurtured and strengthened (topic for another article). Working with these attributes in place can mean the difference between a client achieving their goals or not.

2. A career development model or framework

It is important to provide clients who are new to the concept of career development with some basic knowledge. Providing a visual image of the process of career development can help clients identify where they are, what areas they want to and/or need to work on and where they want to be, and then strategize how to get there. It is a great tool to use throughout a client’s journey as a check-in point, too. You can choose a model that aligns with your coaching and your client’s learning preferences, needs and situation. I enjoy this simple Career Development Model from Career Professionals of Canada.

3. Circle or sphere of influence/control/concern.

This is a fantastic tool to help clients sort out their options, thoughts and ideas into what they feel they can control, what they feel they can influence and what they feel they do not have control over.

For the “uncontrollable” obstacles, you then want to help the client identify and develop coping strategies.

This Circles of Control diagram can be a helpful guide. Using a pen and paper, I get clients to write down, using three columns, what they can control/influence and what they can’t control.

4. SMART goal worksheet

Even if the client’s goal is to “make it to the next paycheck” or “not get fired,” it needs to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable*, Realistic and Timely.

You can find a lot of worksheets that use the SMART goal acronym or create your own! Here is a link to 4 variations: https://www.developgoodhabits.com/goal-setting-worksheet/

*Some SMART goal models refer to “A” as “achievable/attainable” and others as “action plan.” As with all tools, select one that fits your clients’ needs.

5. T-GROW Model

This model was adapted by Myles Downey (speaker, coach, writer) from the original GROW model. The original model was developed by Sir John Whitmore and colleagues in the 1980’s with the intent of creating strong leaders and has GROWn into a widely used tool! You can learn more about it here: https://www.coachingperformance.com/grow-model/

 T-GROW stands for:

  • Topic: What aspect of career development does your client want to focus on? (e.g. job search, self-exploration, networking – see #2). Tip: If a client has more than one topic, ask them to choose one to focus on first.
  • Goals: Ask the client what they want to work toward. It may help to use a goal-setting template like the SMART goal acronym (see #5). Some clients will have a specific goal, while others may need help establishing one. Tip: Remember that goals can change and to always check in to see if the client still wants to work toward their initial goal.
  • Reality: Your client needs to understand and accept their current reality. Have they lost their job? Want a change from their current job? The aim is to identify a starting point. If you do not know where you are (and accept it), it can be challenging to know where to go.
  • Options (and obstacles): Have your client brainstorm a list of potential obstacles and then ask them to choose 1-2 controllable obstacles to focus on. It can help to use a tool such as the “Sphere of Influence” or “Circle of Concern” (see #4).
  • Way forward: Help your clients develop an action plan. What resources do they need? What support do they have? What steps will they take/ What is one step they can take today to get them closer to their goal?
6. Evaluation tools

It is essential to evaluate progress toward desired outcomes/goals on an ongoing basis (which connect to the “Measure” in the SMART goal framework). If your client does not keep track and reflect on their progress, how will they know what is or is not working for them? Clients can track and reflect on their progress through keeping a journal and/or agenda, regular check-ins with a career professional or using tracking forms or tracking apps for almost anything they are working toward (e.g. networking, job search, LMI trends, moods, levels of energy, etc.).

Concluding thoughts

As a career development professional, you can help your clients to create their own “upturn” during times of economic downturn. Help your clients to see that the pandemic and economy does not manage them; they manage themselves, and their career, within an economy and within a pandemic. Oh, the power of choice!

So let’s get back to Helen Keller’s quote. It may feel like there is a bend in the road. You can help your clients gain control and find that this is not the end, unless they decide it to be. They can take a turn – an upturn. And through all this, you may even help them create a new road.

I hope you are successful in using these tools with your clients, and, with yourself.


Learn about career development strategies, resources and virtual events in our free CareerWise Weekly newsletter.

Fanie Zis Author
Coming from a background in psychology, counselling and career development coaching, Fanie Zis is a Certified Life Coach and a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation. Fanie works as a freelance Life Coach. She works with clients to help them get from where and who they are now to where and who they want to be by supporting them through personal development and life enhancement processes in a variety of sectors in their lives depending on their situation and life goals. Fanie also works as a Life Smart Coach for EFAP program through Homewood Health in the areas of career coaching, career counselling, relationship coaching, grief and loss, stress management and pre-retirement planning.
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Fanie Zis Author
Coming from a background in psychology, counselling and career development coaching, Fanie Zis is a Certified Life Coach and a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation. Fanie works as a freelance Life Coach. She works with clients to help them get from where and who they are now to where and who they want to be by supporting them through personal development and life enhancement processes in a variety of sectors in their lives depending on their situation and life goals. Fanie also works as a Life Smart Coach for EFAP program through Homewood Health in the areas of career coaching, career counselling, relationship coaching, grief and loss, stress management and pre-retirement planning.
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