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Job Hunting and Career Planning — Q&A with the Career Coach

“Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:

Q: You often write about providing coaching for employees who are unemployed or not doing well in their current role. Do you also feel successful executives, who often have a variety of opportunities available to them, should also seek counsel before taking a big promotion or making a major move?

A: While it may sound self-serving, I feel it’s critical for executives to seek coaching before accepting any major promotion or move. Many executives accept major promotions inside their companies, but find themselves unprepared and overwhelmed in the early going.

These executives, and many companies for that matter, feel that if an employee is successful in their current position, they will also be successful in a significantly larger or more complex role. This is not always the case, and coaching can help an employee to identify potential blind spots that could cause problems in a larger position.

Examples could include an inability to delegate, poor talent identification/selection skills, or an inability or desire to successfully engage in office politics, often found in larger, more complex positions. By being made aware of these shortcomings prior to accepting a big promotion, it can help the employee assimilate more rapidly, and more importantly, help to make a decision whether they should accept the position at all.

Lastly, after acceptance, a coach can provide an executive with a 90-day assimilation plan to assure a successful acclimation into their new role.

Q: I’ve been in my current job and function for a long time and have really grown to hate it. I want to do something else, but I don’t have any idea which way to go. During this unusual period, when I have some free time, do you have any suggestions on where I might begin?

A: This is a challenging situation for anyone, but when recently working with a client on this issue, I asked two simple questions: Where are you going, and what do you want to do?

If they can’t answer these questions, and most people can’t, I suggest they take out a clean sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the paper, list all the things they love to do (whether they are work-related or not), and on the right side, all the things they’re really good at.

Having done this, step back and look at both lists together to see if any jobs or functions present themselves. If so, this can become their personal “north star” providing direction for their career path and an answer to where they should be going. If successful at finding such a role, as I often say, “If you are doing something you love and are good at it, you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Send your questions to Clifford E Montgomery, CPC, executive and career coach in New Hope. He can be reached at 908-209-1642 or at His website is

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