Finding Clarity

3 things to do before asking for career advice

January 15, 2020

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A while back, I was speaking to a friend’s sister…..


She had two job offers that she was tossing between. One with a reputable international company. Another with a local company.  She asked me for my advice…


“What job should I take?”


As she explained her options, I naturally had my perceptions around what I would choose for myself but I bit my tongue in sharing because I knew that my answer wouldn’t have been right for her


So instead of sharing my thoughts, I asked her:


  • What do you think?
  • What do you feel?
  • Where do you think YOU’LL thrive?


Woman working on a laptop to make a career decision.

She stood back and went quiet…..


“You know what that’s a really good question. I don’t know.”


In her mind she hadn’t stopped to question where she fit in.


She just thought that she had to go for the international company because it was a bigger name, more reputable.


The assumption: Bigger = better.


What typical career advice would say, right?


But when she thought about it more deeply, the smaller local company was going to be a better fit. For her.


Decision made. 


This is the thing about asking people for career advice…they’ll tell you what they think is right based on their own parameters for success. 


It would have been easy for me to say “go with the international company. It’s a bigger company.”


But is that true? Is bigger always better? 



Before my friend’s sister approached me for career advice, I didn’t have all the facts.


I didn’t know:


  • What package she was offered for both her options (and if these packages are suitable for her current situation)
  • Who her boss was going to be (and if they’d be compatible working together)
  • What support on offer at each firm (and whether that’s “enough” for her)
  • The details of the role she’s going for (and whether she’s got the skill set and/or willingness to learn)


Without that information (which she herself has) I’m quite frankly not the person to tell her what to do.

Neutral Style Desk


This is what happens when we go to other people for career advice (or life advice in general)….


Other people don’t know the day to day, ins and outs of what you’re going through in your career nor what’s important about deciding to pivot or make a career change.


Maybe you:


….go to the bathroom crying because you can’t deal with a certain person at work.


…or you’re crumbling under the stress.


…wake up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations because you feel you have to check your work emails at 2am.



If you have to make a decision about your career and are considering getting career advice from others…


Don’t give away your power to other people who don’t know what you value and what matters to you.


I believe….


  • You are your best expert. 
  • You know you best. 
  • You know what’s best for you. 


Whilst there’s a time and a place for asking people for feedback and input….you’ve got to be in the driving seat BEFORE you ask for advice.


Other people don’t know what you’re going through. 



If you’re facing a choice point in your career and you’re not sure where to go, step back into yourself.


Drop this question into the body:


“What do I need to know to make a decision here?”


For some of you, you have to process the decision intellectually. Making pros and cons list.


Truth be told, this was my default mode, before I discovered feminine embodiment tools….BUT


What I’ve come to realise is that listening to your heart, intuition and body is just as important too — and works beyond logic.


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Blog


Here are the 3 steps to follow BEFORE asking for someone’s advice on what to do next in your career…



#1: Step back and get clear on what you need to know to make a decision. 


Here are a few questions to get started with:


  • What are your parameters for making an informed decision?
  • Is it to get more information on the expected outcomes of the role?
  • Is it to have more balance and flexibility for this stage of your career?
  • What really matters to you at this stage of your life and career?
  • Do you really desire opportunities for growth? Or are you wanting to have time out for your family?
  • How do you know you’re making a “good” decision for you?


Only you can decide this. No-one else.



#2: Make a list of the “right” people to ask for advice, input or guidance.


Be selective in terms of who you seek and don’t expect them to make the decision for you. Even if they’re more senior, have more experience or are just plain wise.


Have the conversation yes, but filter and discern what they say.


Before you ask someone for their opinion be sure to share the factors that are important to you (from step #1) and ask them to advise based on this criteria. 


Without this – they’ll just tell you what to do based on the factors that they feel are important to them.


Spoiler alert: Even if you share what’s important to you, someone may not take that into account and just share what they would do. Make sure that you seriously consider how their feedback feels when you receive it. Start trusting your body, your intuition, your wisdom.



#3: Consider working with a coach


Sometimes we need an objective 3rd party who’s not in our day to day lives to help us see a situation clearly. That’s when working with a coach can be really helpful. 


If you’re relying on advice or insights from people close to you, they may have their own agendas (whether they are conscious they have them or not).  In this situation, working with a coach may be a good call.


A good coach can really help you consider what’s important for you and make sure you’re doing step #1 properly (getting clear on what information you need to make a decision). 


You might be thinking…. “Surely I can figure this out for myself?” And yes maybe you can. But often times we don’t see our own blindspots….



The Perfect Woman Imperative runs deep and years of subconscious conditioning where we’ve been told what to value, how to show up and what’s appropriate. It can knock us off our centre so we don’t actually know what it is that WE ourselves want. 


If you’re considering working with a coach, check out the blog post below to figure out if you’re ready and what you need to consider. 


How to know when you’re ready to work with a coach and how to get the best results when you work with one.


I’ve written this based on my own experience working with coaches at various stages of my career and business. Ultimately I want you to use it to make the right choice by you (whether you and I ultimately end up working together or not). 


A coaching relationship is important on both sides and so my goal is that it serves you in figuring out how to find the right one for you. 


If you do want to explore how I can support you, you can check out my approach and how I can support you OVER HERE.



Yay you made it this far!

Siobhan Barnes Hong Kong Soulful Executive Coach Outside Office

Years ago I got a job offer to work at an Investment bank in a regional role….


I rationalised in my head that it was the right thing to do. I did the pros and cons list, I did the intellectualisation….


…..Yet deep down something in my gut didn’t quite sit right. 


On paper everything was great. Yet I wasn’t sure. 


Back then I didn’t know if that was just my insecurity and fear talking or genuinely my heart telling me “this isn’t right.”

Ultimately I choose to squash that “not quite right” feeling down.


I squashed that feeling down because my rational mind said “you’re crazy to pass up the job.” People in my life agreed I was making the right choice to go ahead and take it. And so I did.


I wish that at that point,  I’d stopped to assess what I myself wanted and what was important to ME in that point of my life and career rather than deciding based on the “should’s”…..


When you’re at a choice point in your career, don’t give your power away before asking for career advice.

Celebration, clanging champagne glasses.

Let’s recap the 3 key things to do before asking for career advice again….


Step #1: Step back and get clear on what you need to know to make a decision.

Step #2: Make a list of the right people to ask for advice, input or guidance.

Step #3: Consider working with a coach.



Remember there’s no one in the world who can do what you do the way you do it. You’re here for a reason. Don’t ever forget it.


You’re at an exciting choice point in your career and I can’t wait to hear what unfolds for you.



Before you go I would love to hear from you:


+ What’s your biggest challenge in making a decision?

+ What’s important for you to consider at this stage of your life and career?


Leave a comment for me below.


With love,



P.S. Speaking of careers, I’m getting more active on LinkedIn and would love to connect with you over there if you’re on there? You can come on over to my profile over at: and let’s connect!

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