The wisdom of jealousy

Kathryn Crawford Saxer A Little Kindness, Career Transition

I was jealous of my son and it changed my life. That sounds worrying, but let me explain. As a career coach, I often ask my clients whom they’re jealous of. Jealousy can be a useful emotion: It can be a signpost pointing toward what you actually want, cutting through the noise of what you’ve been telling yourself — or what other people may be telling you — that you should want in your career. I like the emotional honesty of the …

Don’t wing it

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Management, Career Transition

Jack Reacher has some good career advice. He’s the formidable, former military police investigator who wanders around causing — and solving — all kinds of trouble in a reassuringly formulaic fiction series by Lee Child. In the latest book, “Blue Moon,” Reacher starts a turf war between rival gangs, among other plot complexities. “Suppose what you learn is that it’s hopeless?” a friend asks Reacher. “Not an acceptable outcome. Can only be a failure of planning,” says Reacher. That’s more or …

Words matter

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

“Words matter,” I tell my career coaching clients. Case in point: the networking conversation. Ideally, you want to transform that nice, friendly chat into a career opportunity. “You need two things from the person you’re networking with,” I tell my clients. “You need ideas, and you need introductions to people you don’t know.” (I wrote about stumbling onto ideas in last week’s column.) How you ask for those introductions could make a difference in your career/job transition. Imagine you’re in the middle …

The leaky roof

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

A job search is a lot like a leaky roof. Let me explain. A couple of years ago, we noticed a small water stain in our living room. “Huh,” we thought, worried about it a bit, and put it out of our minds. That water stain is a bit like that nagging feeling that your job’s not a good fit, that you should be doing something else. (I used to call it the Whisper until I learned that Oprah did, too.) It’s not a …

Quitting gymnastics

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Management, Career Transition

My daughter’s friend just quit gymnastics. This 13-year-old girl has been a gymnast most of her life, practicing five days a week, multiple hours a day. It’s what she’s always done. Being a gymnast is her identity. “How did you decide to quit?” I asked her, fascinated by the enormity of her decision. She shrugged. “I realized that I didn’t want to be there anymore,” she said. Out of the mouths of babes. Knowing when to quit, when to walk …

Lucky break

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

My friend is an architect who works for herself out of her home office. She chooses projects she’s interested in and is home when the kids get off school. “I get to use my skills on my terms,” she told me one day over iced tea. That’s a pretty good definition of success, I said. “It’s just luck,” she said. I think about luck a lot as a career coach. I tell my coaching clients, “Get yourself to the right place …

How to talk about weaknesses

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

“You have a Hermione complex,” I told my career coaching client. She was preparing for an interview, and we were talking through the dreaded “What are your weaknesses?” question. Yes, that question still gets asked all the time, and yes, you have to prepare for it beforehand. It’s actually an interesting question. If you dig in to it, avoiding the trite “I’m a perfectionist” and “I’m a workaholic” response options, you signal thoughtfulness and self-awareness with your answer. It shows …

Networking: How to ask for help

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

Sometimes the hardest part of looking for a new job is asking for help. A coaching client was describing a networking coffee that went nowhere. “I wouldn’t want the manager to say, ‘Oh, I know you, so I’m giving you an interview,” he said. “I’m not looking for a handout.” He wasn’t actually my coaching client. I occasionally mentor new coaches, listen to a recording of their coaching sessions, and offer them feedback on their coaching skills. I wrote in my …

How to choose a coach

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Management, Career Transition

A career coach can help you make tremendous leaps forward in your career, but it can be overwhelming to decide whom to work with. Here are five considerations to keep in mind as you choose. Credentials. Coaching is not a regulated profession. You’ll find a wide range of quality among those claiming to be experts — in fact, anyone can put up a website and call themselves a coach. A credential through an organization such as the International Coaching Federation at least …

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

Kathryn Crawford Saxer Career Transition

Read my archive of Seattle Times Explore columns. A new coaching client lashed out at me. Tears in her eyes, she spat out how much she hates her job, how stuck she feels, how unhappy. She snapped at the irrelevance of some question I had asked. I didn’t mind. I’ve been there. I get it. This client is highly trained in her field. Doctorate level. “I can’t just walk away,” she told me. “Why not?” I asked. She talked about …