Most of us in the United States, weather we are job seekers or career changers, usually want to make quick decisions ( how many times have you heard clients say they want to “hit the ground running”). But, this tendency causes us to fail to do adequate “research” on just what options we realistically have. Many professional career coaches and counselors use a simple, four step process when working with clients. This process is:(1) Assessment - What are the skills, values, interests, etc. of the client?(2) Exploration - What options are realistically available for the client?(3) Focus and Goal Setting - Which of the available options require the client’s current skills and are compatible with his or her values?(4) Strategy/Implementation - What does the client need to do to get there?
In the 35 years that I have been training career coaches, over 95% of their clients (and the same proportion of my clients) come to us wanting to start the process at step 4 - Strategy/Implementation. It is often a real struggle to get the client to understand the value of starting back at step 1 and progressing carefully through the entire four-step process. Let me share the method I use to get my clients to clearly understand what “exploration” is and how to go about exploring their options. I find it is useful to illustrate the exploration step using analogies and metaphors.
Lets look at how most of us approach a buffet line. I would bet that most of us would start down the buffet line and have a completely full plate before reaching the mid point of the line. While most of us automatically behave this way, all of us are probably aware of the most efficient method of approaching a buffet. That is, we should walk down the buffet without a plate and observe what items are in the buffet, ask the server to describe any unfamiliar dishes, consider any dietary restrictions, evaluate our appetite, and finally get a plate and select only those items we want to eat.