Ten Strategies to Help Your Clients Winterize Their Career

Winterize a career as we do our homes and cars

We spend time every year preparing for the harsh winter — installing snow tires, getting the right snow removal equipment, clearing our sidewalks, tackling the daily commute, or getting stocked up to maintain a remote work lifestyle. To “winterize” means to prepare and make ready — a house or car, for example — to withstand cold weather and function smoothly. The same concept of preparing for harsh conditions can apply to our jobs, too. We’d like to offer ten strategies you can share with your clients to help them winterize their career.

Recognizing the Approach of Winter Conditions

Truthfully, most people seek career help when their career is already off the rails. What happens when the dormant season hits your client’s career? For example, a rumoured or impending business shutdown may propel them to consider their next career move or to resign. “Slippery or foggy environmental conditions” can impact their career choice, mobility, and even their confidence. Such highly emotional scenarios are often not the best times to be reevaluating one’s career.

Just as we support our clients during their career triumphs and challenges, we also need to prepare them before a period of stagnation arises in their career development and growth. Preventative maintenance goes a long way in mitigating risks to our homes, finances, health, and, yes, our careers. And, as career practitioners, we need to keep driving our own career development so that we’re prepared to serve our clients as effectively as possible.

Ten Signs Your Client is Facing the Winter of Their Career

  1. Your client may confide that they are no longer growing and their career is not heading in a fruitful direction.
  2. Your client has lost their sense of focus or purpose in their career and they may be experiencing stress.
  3. Your client does not seem to be able to identify their unique value proposition — what sets them apart.
  4. Your client is not experiencing much success at work recently.
  5. Your client seems to be undergoing recurring negative patterns at work or experiencing significant challenges.
  6. Your client does not value their accomplishments, whether big or small.
  7. Your client faces cutbacks or a restructuring; changes are occurring rapidly in their organization along with high turnover and unpredictability in business operations.
  8. Your client cannot seem to identify career goals, let alone envision or implement next steps.
  9. Your client begins to suddenly dislike their job. The environment they once loved now becomes toxic or challenging to handle and they begin to delay important tasks.
  10. Your client needs a break or change in their role, industry, environment, or culture.

The above conditions can signal career stagnation. If your client indicates a “yes” response to some or many of the above signs,  then they will require strategic support and a concrete action plan.

Ten Strategies to Help Your Client Winterize Their Career

1. Encourage self-awareness.

Self-awareness is about knowing who you are; your strengths, skills, and weaknesses. Having this information will help your client to really understand what sets them apart and to bounce back in the event of change. It’s a critical part of emotional intelligence. This involves talking about their accomplishments, their challenges, and the strategies they have used to overcome those challenges. Encourage clients to keep a treasure chest of all their milestones, awards, and memorable keepsakes — even valuable professional development learning tips. Accessing milestones written on paper or a scrapbook of photos can shed light on their success patterns. To gather a variety of perspectives, another strategy is to request 360-degree feedback, either formally or informally. Clients can ask colleagues, friends, peers, and/or employers about their unique value proposition.

2. Set and assess measurable goals.

In collaboration with your client, choose a recurring time of year to evaluate whether they are on track to meet their career goals. Maybe it’s the same time they change their winter tires or around the holiday season. Work with your client to remain focused in writing their short-term and long-term career goals. Where would they like to see themselves in a year and are they on track to get there? Do they feel aligned with their goals? For maximum impact, goals need to be not only specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic, and timely (SMART), but scary, positive, visual, exciting, and measurable (SPVEM). If goals don’t challenge your client and take them outside of their comfort zone, change won’t happen.

3. Get creative in asking empowering questions.

Many jobseekers will not make a change because they think that it is impossible to do so. Support your client by asking questions about how they can achieve their goals, rather than convincing themselves that it’s just not possible. Our subconscious minds want to find answers. So, ask your client empowering questions to prompt thoughtful insights and inventive answers. This exercise may start out with creative storytelling.

4. Equip your client with a customized brand marketing portfolio.

The résumé is an effective branding document for performance reviews, interviews, and existing and new opportunities. Today’s résumé needs to capture accomplishments that demonstrate measurable results. However, a brand marketing portfolio can feature customized cover letters, a professional biography, networking résumé, website, business cards, samples of outstanding work products, and testimonials — all vital to your client’s overall brand.

5. Motivate your client to network and think like a careerpreneur.

Author Harvey Mackay once said, “Dig your well before you get thirsty.” This advice applies to the tactic of networking regularly within one’s industry, but keeping options open, too. Remind your client to take charge of their own career and never underestimate their champions as a vehicle of support during both positive and turbulent times. Your client’s trusted contacts can fuel amazing prospects. Networking formally or informally can spark new ideas and projects.

6. Champion your client to never stop learning and to draw upon their skill sets.

When times get tough, the key to moving forward is learning something new and enhancing one’s skill sets through in-person courses, mentoring, remote learning, volunteering, or becoming a member of a respected association. Confidence can be gained by tackling a challenging task or honing a skill set that is outside the client’s comfort zone.

7. Be open to possibilities.

Most people think that their jobs are secure. The Chaos Theory of Careers reveals that the unexpected can happen quickly and we need to learn to adapt to changes. If we train ourselves to be alert to and recognize possibilities and opportunities, we can open doors and translate obstacles into meaningful prospects for success.

8. Support your client in remaining proactive and formulating a Plan B.

Whether your client is self-employed or gainfully employed in a role within a company, they need to have a back-up plan (Plan B) in case the unexpected happens. In the past, many employers provided “job security.” These days, creating a plan for job security is the individual’s responsibility and having a positive, entrepreneurial mindset and proactive attitude play an integral role in the development of that plan.

  • Champion your client to carve out short-term goals and long-term goals for the development of a Plan B.
  • Support your client in staying up to date on the events in their organization and industry to understand how these events may impact their position.
  • Encourage your client to discuss with their employer a career development plan or succession plan.
  • Motivate your client to proactively seek opportunities where they could help the organization thrive by leveraging their strengths and areas of expertise.

A secondary plan will allow your client to leverage their creativity and offer them inspiration and confidence in their ability to tackle challenges and new initiatives. The plan may involve designing a new website, launching a side business or gig, volunteering in an organization of interest, collaborating with colleagues on a project, or even securing a board role in a relevant industry.

9. Support your client in dispelling self-limiting beliefs.

Confidence often paves the way for success. The “imposter syndrome” may show up from time to time, but the key is to coach your client to exude confidence. Being confident involves accepting that things may not work out and some fear of failure is normal. But, the willingness to bounce back and try again is a big part of confidence. According to NLP principles, there is no failure, only feedback! When things do not work out, it may mean that your client’s vision is not fully aligned with their mission/purpose and values.

10. Encourage your client to take time to nurture their health and wellness.

Taking time out for mental health and wellness will enable your client to be their very best and further their career development. Whether they carve out time for exercise, deep breathing, yoga, journalling, or meditation, they will be better equipped to embrace new experiences and challenges throughout their career journey, even in the winter of their career. As career professionals, we can champion our clients to be kind to themselves and appreciate their worth and uniqueness.

To better serve your clients, consider taking courses by CPC or working toward your certifications, including the CDP or CCDP designations. The winter in everyone’s career happens — we need to prepare ourselves and our clients to thrive, not just survive.

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Conny Lee is a Certified Holistic Narrative Career Practitioner, Online Business Manager for coaches, Certified Career Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist, and Certified Résumé Strategist. She is focused on supporting people to create the career, business, and life they truly desire and love. To learn more, visit Conny’s website at thevisionaryva.com. When she isn’t working, Conny enjoys reading, listening, learning anything related to personal development, spending time with her family, and working out.

Photo by soprety on 123RF

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Conny Lee I love SPVEM! If a goal isn’t a little bit or a lot scary, chances are the motivation won’t be there to reach it.