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Coaching Helps Overcome Job Search Challenges

Job searches often feel like a continuous process of two steps forward and one step back. They all have the traditional challenges of resumes, cover letters and interview preparation, but some job seekers, like Emily, face more unique difficulties. Emily’s legal career had taken her to Italy for the past six years, so returning to the States equated to starting from scratch in many ways. Particular legal positions and qualifications had changed and law firms as well as their reputations had come and gone. In addition, different job-searching techniques such as using social media had grown during the time Emily worked abroad.

“I knew there were jobs out there that I was unaware of where my skills would be applicable,” Emily said. “I wanted to discover companies that I had not already heard of that would benefit from my experience. I also wanted to better understand the players and trending issues in my industry.”

With these factors in mind, Emily sought help from her alma mater, UCLA. The university offers an array of personalized coaching to its alumni by phone, email and text as well as an app that offers guidance on setting goals, interview preparation and more. Emily and her coach, Tina, met several times during her search to put together a plan including prioritizing goals, building motivation, determining the best career fit and how to re-establish her network.

Emily had multiple options for her career including an in-house counsel position, a job with a law firm or working in a policy-related capacity. While Emily had experience as an in-house counsel, a job at a law firm would give her the necessary litigation skills for future advancement. It became clear after discussion that Emily preferred a law firm position, so Tina helped her focus her efforts in that direction. “She helped me weigh options and figure out specifics like how much time to dedicate to each type of position,” Emily said.

Tina and Emily talked about what held her back from taking advantage of her network. “I had to overcome my shyness about reaching out to my legal contacts while I was considering a non-legal policy position as well as a legal career path,” she said. “Tina also helped me understand how to use the Internet and social media tools which had evolved a great deal since my last search.” She said Tina served as a trusted advisor and partner, helping her organize her thoughts and figure out how to find organizations that shared her values, a factor almost as important to Emily as a strong qualifications fit.

“I wanted to work for an organization that believed in growth mindset and that valued efficiently incorporating different viewpoints into its decision making,” she said.

She gave me very valuable input,” Emily said. ”It was easy for my focus to narrow down to a certain number of websites I could check. Otherwise I’d step back and see everything and be overwhelmed,” Emily said.

Tina reminded Emily that it was okay if she didn’t do every single thing she set out to do at the time she set out to do it. “she really helped me stay motivated. Two heads are always better than one,” she said. “We talked a lot about how taking even small steps will lead to achieving a long-term goal.”

Tina continued to remind her of her goals and make sure she gained motivation, support and information from all aspects of the process including interviews. Knowing she had an upcoming conversation with Tina made her not procrastinate applying for a job she wanted.

“I knew I had a call with Tina coming up soon, so I applied for it that day,” Emily said. “If I hadn’t had a call scheduled with her, I likely would have waited.”

It turns out she interviewed with the company the next day and has worked at this law firm for two months and loves it. “Having a coach helped me stay on track, stay motivated, but it also put a lot of things in perspective,” she said. “Could I have done it on my own? Probably. Would I have been as successful? I seriously doubt it.”

Student name has been changed.

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