A Career Coach Shares Her Best Advice

4 min read



We spoke with career coach Mary Eisenhauer, who is passionate about the potential each of her clients has and works to help them embrace it. Among the clients Mary works with are people who are mid-career and want to make a change, those who want to know how to make more progress professionally and those who are not feeling energized by their current work and are looking to find a spark. Mary explains, “It is an honor to play the role of guide and supporter as clients undertake challenges of all types and sizes.”

Mary described a model she finds to be incredibly valuable and effective for her clients as they work to figure out the next steps on their educational journey. “I like to use the GROW model—Goals, Reality Check, Options and Will. It’s a process of asking questions.” Mary added that the GROW model is adaptable to help identify and achieve any type of goal—personal or professional, big or little.

grow model

The GROW Model

Mary shares how the GROW model works for her career coaching clients:

Goal - Mary shares that she always starts a session by asking clients, “What do you want to talk about today? What do you want out of this session? What outcome makes this meeting successful for you? Once we have established their goal for the session, we can move forward."

“Sometimes I’ll speak with someone who is really looking for guidance. Who might not know what their career goals are or what they want to pursue. For those people, I recommend using tools like DISC, Myers & Briggs, StrengthsFinder, and Results Accelerator.”

Tools like these can be a great place to start for someone who’s really looking for guidance. A career coach will help you review the results and identify information about possible paths forward. University career centers typically offer similar assistance and can help you assess your results and provide career coaching. 

Reality Check - Mary continues, “The next step is looking at the concrete facts of your situation, your ‘reality check’. For example, your employer may contribute toward the cost of your education. It would be a ‘fact’ that your tuition would be partially or fully funded if you returned to school. Additionally, another ‘fact’ may be that others in your situation have successfully returned to school despite challenges.”

“Let’s consider and discuss these facts. This is an opportunity to put the angst aside and focus on reality. It’s also a good opportunity to consider who and what can help you achieve your goals.” 

From there, Mary moves on to helping her clients identify their options. 

Options - “I love this step because it helps a client to begin to think creatively. We always generate several potential solutions—it shows them they can accomplish their goal in more than one way. I also like clients to ask themselves these questions: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would happen if your big obstacle was removed? What could you try professionally that you have never tried before?” 

Will - Finally, Mary helps her clients turn their solution into concrete actions. “I always encourage them to ask themselves, What’s one thing you can do this week in support of your goals? It can be a small thing, but take action! Set deadlines for actions, and hold yourself accountable.” 

“A career coach helps clients hold themselves accountable for making progress against their goals. You can do this too by sharing your goals with your partner, a friend or your manager, and ask them to hold you accountable for making progress.” 

I want to GROW, so what’s next? 

This goal-setting worksheet is helpful for identifying goals and figuring out your next steps. After you fill out the worksheet, we suggest speaking with your manager. Those conversations often reveal helpful information and resources that you may not have previously known about. Once you have identified an educational program that interests you, you may also contact career services at your preferred school. Career services is a valuable partner that will work with you to help you develop a plan to accomplish your goals. 

Additional resources that may be helpful to you as you determine your path forwarded are included below. 

Additional resources