While your mom, uncle, or best friend’s aunt might have an opinion of your resume, hearing it might not get you any closer to what you want. A career coach, on the other hand, is a professional who guides you through understanding the industry that you’re interested in and how your skills and experience and education are relevant to that industry. They then help you present yourself in the most effective and desirable manner to hiring managers.
When in your career should you seek out a career coach?
When you’re very new
Students and recent graduates often come to me with a generalized game development background from college or university. Career coaching allows them to better identify specific streams that they’re interested in pursuing first, rather than getting into the “I can do all the things if you’ll let me” mindset.
Studios benefit from multi-talented individuals but those talents need to be presented in a way that makes it clear you have specific skills that match their job posting requirements.
When you’re a few years along
When I’m working with somebody at the two- to three-year mark in their career, they’re often looking to move into a more prestigious company or more challenging role. Even with a few years of professional experience, it’s very competitive so our coaching work tends to be more focused on the best presentation of their work experience and accomplishments.
For clients at the intermediate to mid-level stage of their careers, a reframing of the language on their resume is often needed to signal their growth, accomplishments, and future leadership potential to an employer. More importantly, our conversations explore whether they even want to be a leader.
When you’re established in your career
People who are more senior in their careers come to me for two primary reasons: they’re having challenges getting the offer for jobs they want or they want to do the deep introspective work to assess their values and whether they’re aligned with their current trajectory. For those landing interviews but not the offer, it’s about my listening for the kind of language they’re using to speak about themselves and their work. Maybe your artist is showing up to interviews and not your inner creative director? Maybe you’ve spent a decade plus in games and feel like your needs are not being emotionally fulfilled as an employee? Is there something more that would resonate with you?
When you’ve been riding on cruise control
After we go to school and once we find a job, many of us stop doing anything to actively plan out our career path, and that can end up leading us nowhere.
It’s a worthwhile investment to revisit your career goals every couple of years. It doesn’t have to be a full package of three or four sessions like it might be when you’re in a job search or an active transition. Even just an hour can be helpful to re-assess things and make sure you’re still on track, especially if your company does not have professional development.
Keep in mind that even if they do, your company is more interested in developing you for their benefit, while career coaches take a holistic approach to your career development as it impacts both your personal and your professional life.
Are you ready to hit the road?
I see a career as a road trip, and career coaching as a tool for mapping out that journey. My career coaching model maps out your future with the ABCs. A is for assess. What does it look like to set a career goal? Is it a fixed goal? How will we know when to deviate from that end goal? How do we measure what that goal looks like?
B is for benchmark. If the assessment is the map from where we are now to our end goal, then benchmarking is like identifying pit stops and landmarks along the way where we can rest and do a survey of the land. A place to stop and figure out where are we in relation to our career and to our peers.
Lastly, what are the experiences we’ve had, and want to have along our journey? C is to cultivate, curate and craft those things in our resume, similar to how we would cultivate a music playlist to accompany a road trip. What are the emotional beats of our professional lives and how are we showing up with our values, accomplishments, and talents?
A is for assess
Much of the value in working with a career coach is gaining a deeper awareness of what resonates with you. It allows you to connect and see if your priorities have changed. Are you still happy? Because if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, then you might want to pick a different destination for your road trip.
Assessing and understanding where you’re at in your career allows you to write more effective materials, and apply to jobs that have greater opportunities for an income boost. I’ve seen clients get raises of 10, 20, or 40% by moving into new roles, but they needed that new language to be able to articulate why they were ready for those roles. And they wouldn’t have known that they were ready for those roles without doing the assessment.
My assessment questions are broken into six segments. Here are some of the questions I ask clients.
- Why now, why a career coach? What do you want to get out of this time with me?
- Why are you leaving your current company?
What would you like to do? Where do you want to go next?
- What field or speciality are you seeking work in?
- What are things you love about this type of work? Don’t love?
- What types of projects and companies pique your interest?
- What are some of your career highlights that you’d like to replicate?
Roadblocks – Where is your struggle?
- What do you think is the issue with low call backs, unsuccessful interviews?
- What do you know your blindspots/weaknesses/tech deficits are?
- What are some core values you feel are important to you? (examples include inclusion, diversity, transparency, social good, etc)
- What’s a common thread of work interests/hobbies/habits in your life?
How Do You Work
- What kind of team/boss environment works well for you?
- What makes you feel like you’re thriving at work/home?
A Little More About You
- What’s the 5-10 year vision for your career path?
- What constitutes success for you? (Money, Fame, etc)
- What do you find rewarding at work? (Career progression, impact on team/clients)
As somebody who has been a professional coach since 2008, and has worked in independent video game development since 2014, I’ve combined those two areas of expertise to share that perspective with people who are at all stages of their career.
The ABCs of career coaching lead into a personalized framework that I have developed that focuses on resume storytelling through Validation, Implementation, and People skills (what I call the VIP pillars). This framework has been incredibly successful for over 350 clients and counting, and I have been delighted to discover that it works just as well for people in other industries.