[Online Exclusive] Coaching Trailing Spouses – Helping Hannah reach for the stars!
By Nicole Miller
When Hannah Leroy found out last November that her spouse, a retail manager, was going to be promoted to vice-president, her enthusiasm was stifled by the news that this move up the corporate ladder would entail relocating across the country. As a paramedic, she had spent the last 12 years moving up the seniority list of the local county services, only to have to face the prospect of starting at the bottom once again!
As the business world begins to demand the relocation of more executives, the sub-community of trailing spouses will grow exponentially. In our practice, we have found that with a structured coaching approach, these willing clients increase their perceived potential while allowing their career star to shine brightly within portable careers. Utilizing Hannah’s situation as an example, we have sketched out one of our most successful methodologies that will help you commence to work with the growing number of trailing spouses within your own coaching practices.
- Identifying skill sets and personal goals. As a paramedic, she identified her abilities within the context of her position with county services. When she came to work with our firm, she soon realized that she could not hang her hat on landing the perfect position within a new institution (and hope to retain seniority). As with each and every trailing spouse, Hannah was shown that she has her own unique experiences that have shaped who she is and where she saw herself going. Helping her to solidify her goals was done through formal assessments, many of which were accessed through the Internet. Taking the time to ensure that she owned her unique career path helped frame the rest of the process.
- Create fervour about their abilities and begin marketing their unique personal brand. The creation of superior marketing documents (résumé, cover letter, social media bio/profile) was the next important step. Remember to take time to get this right the first time; your clients will not get a second chance to make a first impression. Ensuring that Hannah could speak to each point that was included within her marketing documents guaranteed authenticity in everything that created her brand. Helping her to reframe her skills set as her own personal brand, she discovered that this could help her market herself as a desirable commodity. Active marketing utilizing more than one avenue ensured success.
- Identifying possible road blocks within the new locale. By utilizing the web, you can help teach your clients to quickly identify any and all possible difficulties that securing employment in their new city would bring; be that language differences, lack of industry within the area, etc. Planning for these will raise the success rate amongst your clients in securing employment. In Hannah’s case, research identified that the paramedic and county agencies were in a hiring freeze and would make her securing a position within the next few years an impossibility.
- Guidance through entire process. With the help of her coach, she repackaged herself as a corporate first aid trainer within the medical field and now enjoys contracts (making much more than a paramedic would) with the various hospitals in her new city. Your clients will require this continued support not only as a way to market their new brand effectively, but also as a means to ensure that they maintain themselves on the path to success.
- Identifying a spousal network. Within the scope of your guidance, helping your clients find a community of like-minded individuals will assist in maintaining positivism during their job search. One idea is to create an online forum within your own practice, which then would be a means to assist in perpetuating your coaching methodologies, and thus ensuring identifiable collaboration of success stories such as Hannah in the continued support of future trailing spouses.
Nicole Miller is at present working at the University of Ottawa, helping prepare students with their job search. She is also the President of Mil-Roy Consultants, a career transition firm that dedicates its practice to helping trailing spouses. You can contact her via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in the plight of trailing spouses? Check out Miranda Vande Kuyt’s article on how trailing spouses can adapt their careers to frequent moves.