SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
Name: Lindsey Day
Location: Jacksonville Florida area
Industry: Talent Management, Career Coaching, Training and Education
Current Company / Title: Owner, Magnetic Career Consulting
Education: Masters of Education from the University of Georgia// Bachelors in Communication, History Minor from Boston College
Give us a screenshot (summary) of what your average day entails. What are your key tasks?
Now that I own my own business, every day is vastly different; however, my schedule is generally a combination of delivering trainings and presentations, consulting with companies on their talent and personal brands, coaching clients, and writing. As the business owner, there are also lots of administrative tasks such as taxes, accounting, navigating health insurance options, etc, Lastly, I make a point to try and go to yoga or do something physical every day.
How did you get into this line of work? What keeps you coming back to this job?
I started my career as an Admissions Recruiter for a small college in Boston. Evaluating applications showed me how poorly most applicants present themselves, and, more importantly, how to stand out. I the started working in the Career Center at the University of Georgia with the intention of sharing this information with candidates. Since then I’ve worked as a coach for three universities, started my own company and worked with major companies like LinkedIn to educate candidates and recruiters on improving their branding and effectively using technology to connect with one another.
I keep coming back because I find Career Development and Talent Management fascinating. It’s the perfect balance helping others in a pragmatic and business-orientated way. I love understanding what motivates people and helping them develop confidence in their skills and abilities. I also love connecting others and helping professionals do their jobs more effectively.
What are the different career paths someone can take if they want to enter this field? If you were entering this career today, is there anything you would do differently?
Some people start in Human Resources. Others go through coaching certifications programs or higher education/college student affairs like me. If I could do it over again, I think I would study organizational development or get an MBA; however, I also think I learned things from my masters program that I might not have been exposed to had I gone a traditional business route.
There are pros and cons to every path. Taking the higher education/student affairs track gave me faster access to coaching experience, which would have been harder to get through the business sector. I got amazing experience with the route I took, but the salaries are considerably lower than you would get in the private sector.
I would advise people getting into this path to get as much coaching experience as they can, even if you start by volunteering. I think it is even better if you can balance this experience with real-world recruiting and/or corporate experience. You want a balance of helping and people skills with real-world experience that will give you credibility with your clients.
For those who are interested in a position similar to yours, what are necessary skillsets (hard skills / soft skills) would you advise them to learn? What kinds of experience, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
Active listening- this is a learned skillset that can take years to cultivate. You have to learn to set aside your own agenda or idea of what the person needs to focus only on what they are saying. If you are thinking about what you are going to say next or already have the solution in mind, you aren’t fully listening.
Coaching- You have to learn how to help clients help themselves. When you like helping others and you are motivated, it can be tempting to jump in and solve the problem yourself; however, this won’t lead to a sustainable change for the client and may lead the client away from following their own path and owning their decisions.
Patience- Many clients who hire you want to make a change and they want it to happen RIGHT NOW. There is generally a sizable gap between wanting to make a change and the time needed to make that change. You have to learn to keep your clients patient, motivated and realistic about this transitional period. You also have to be patient with your clients as they make mistakes and sometimes take significant time to make behavioral adjustments.
Lastly, you need to patience for yourself to build your own career in this field. You ultimately have to follow your own advice. Building a career and navigating the job search takes time. Eventually, coaching can become a meaningful and high paying career path; however, it takes time to build credibility and build a client base.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
On my favorite days, I’m delivering trainings and presentations in very cool cities and companies. The space between these experiences is mostly full of administrative tasks which are least energizing for me, but also incredibly important. During these periods, I rest up and focus on getting prepared for the next delivery. It takes a lot of effort for presentations to come across as flawless, so it’s key to build some of this time in, even if it’s where my energy is the lowest.
I love the flexibility that comes with being a remote worker and business owner. Most days I control my own schedule. I hate waking up in the morning so I love that I no longer have to set an alarm clock and that I can go to the gym or cook at meal at home in the middle of the day. One of the main things I miss from a traditional office is access to professional grade printer and health insurance benefits. Paying on your own is expensive! Fortunately, these are easy things to work around and the pros outweigh the cons at the moment.
What advice do you have for a student or new job seeker to qualify for this position? Do you have any industry insights to share (good or bad) as a result of your experience?
The coaching/talent development market is over-saturated, so it’s hard to succeed at your own business or get a position in-house if you don’t have prior experience. I would start by pursuing entry-level HR positions or go through education, like I did. If you already work in corporate, you could pursue a coaching certificate in conjunction with your current job and then start coaching clients or doing speaking engagements on the side.
Regardless of your education or certification, to be successful you ultimately have to gain experience. Unfortunately that often means speaking and coaching for free or at a very discounted cost. Stay patient and focused on the long-run as over time this will likely pay off as you build a reputation.
Tell us something fun about yourself that not many people know?
If I could quit my job and not worry about money, I would be a wedding singer. I’m currently learning guitar to get ready for this moment. So far I can play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Happy Birthday.” Did I mention patience is important?
If you could have only one type of food for the rest of your life - what would it be? Why?
Mac and Cheese. I love it EVERY time.
Lindsey Day is a nationally-recognized speaker, trainer and career coach. She is specifically known for her expertise in networking, LinkedIn and recruitment. Lindsey has been a featured contributor on Forbes.com and is an inaugural member of the Forbes Coaches Council. To date, she has coached thousands of clients and given hundreds of talks throughout the country. Her clients range from new professionals, small businesses and non-profits to large corporations, major universities and C-Suite executives. For more information on Lindsey, go to www.lindseyday.com.