My job: Navigator in changing world of work

By Donna McIntyre

Kaye Avery helps a lot of people working through redundancy. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Kaye Avery helps a lot of people working through redundancy. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Name: Kaye Avery
Occupation: Career specialist, coach and facilitator, self-employed
Hours: 30-40 a week
Pay scale: $50k - $100k (it varies widely from year to year, depending on how much I spend on my own professional development)
Qualifications: Graduate Diploma in Career Development (and some of Masters in Career Development), Master NLP Practitioner

Describe your job.

I am a career specialist. I understand the psychological development and impacts that affect people in their careers - career theory - which helps me to align people with "best-fit" careers/work. People are complex, so I need a good grip on human nature and how best to motivate people so they build their self-awareness and confidence.

I keep up to date with the world of work by following workforce and recruitment trends. After establishing suitable work roles with clients, I help create a job search strategy.

I coach individuals and run group workshops, including employee groups and also my own public workshops and seminars. Generally I work on my own, although sometimes I co-facilitate workshops with other practitioners.

A lot of my time is spent working with people who are transitioning after losing their job - usually through redundancy - or running workplace workshops to support employees going through change and restructuring.

What might an "average week" entail?

Roughly speaking, I coach six to 15 individuals a week and usually run three to four workshops each month.

I try to have two dedicated coaching days in my practice in a week and thus three days a week where I am free to coach in workplaces. Sometimes I coach via Skype or telephone, too. I have been coaching someone in northern Europe this month and that has been interesting.

Why did you choose this job?

I became a mother in my early 20s after working as a recruiter in London. After having my family, when I was back in recruitment, I decided to train in career development and I worked in HR consulting in the career transition area, working with client organisations and their employees. I established my private practice in 2005. Last year I completed a masters research project on baby-boomer career experience.

There are many pathways to career coaching but practitioners' experiences are likely to define their markets. Some of my colleagues work in tertiary institutions and so understand academia and students; some work in large corporations; others work with the unemployed or hard-to-employ.

Useful backgrounds are human resources, psychology, training, education and rehabilitation services.

How do you help clients cope with redundancy?

Redundancy feels personal because it happens outside of the person's control. My role is to provide care and support, initially, so as to help them move through the trauma of it quickly and then move on. If they don't get that support, resentment, depression and many other impacts are possible.

I then give people hope, build confidence and help with practical tools such as a good CV.

How do older workers' needs differ to younger workers?

Big question. Indeed, older people have a different experience on their career journey to the younger ones. Being older myself, I have that understanding and experience. Older people have a different set of issues that need attention, including having to deal with ageist attitudes in the workplace and selection processes.

The recession has caused a tension between the need to keep people working longer to retain organisational knowledge and experience, and constrained workforce numbers, where the younger ones are biting at the heels of seniors so that they can fulfil their career ambitions.

How easy is it to change jobs or roles?

Effective job/career change is as varied in ease or difficulty as people vary from one another. Having self-awareness and confidence, coupled with few external limitations (such as having a mortgage and a family to support) is easier than if someone has few skills, a large mortgage and a family.

It is an individual situation and needs to be dealt with that way by the practitioner.

Why is your job important?

Career counselling and coaching is a recent phenomenon. I believe it has emerged as a modality of practice because the world-of-work has changed so dramatically over the last 20 years. People need more support.

The world is less stable, meaning that workplaces are changing constantly.

Also, employment contracts are more "transactional" now, whereas once they were "relational" - a committed relationship. Nowadays the individual needs to take responsibility for their own career and it is up to them to convince, navigate and grow their career currency.

Your job's main challenges?

I do feel for some of my clients who are trying to get work in the tough job market. The challenge is to impart a greater level of awareness and skill so they can successfully navigate it.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I love my work; I love the constant learning journey I am engaged with - which is required of me, to be good at my work.

Advice to those interested in a similar role?

I'd advise them to see their personal development as critically important. It is our responsibility to be as baggage-free as we can be so that we can be effective with our clients. Also, to never be content with what you know - explore widely as it is important as a career coach to have a wide frame of reference and a vast knowledge base.

Get to know the corporate world - the recruiters, the HR fraternity and other workplace environments. These are the worlds your clients work in.

- NZ Herald

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