Ironically, it was career switch that prompted Jackie Jones to launch her own career transformation business, Jones Coaching, based in Washington, D.C. “I launched my company in 2006. I had been a journalist for about 30 years and was tired of the newsroom. I left The Washington Post in 2003 and taught journalism as a senior lecturer at Penn State for three years,” she recalls. “What I learned in that time is that I enjoy working with people directly and helping them achieve their dreams. A friend suggested I look into life coaching. I moved back to D.C. and I signed up for certification training with the Coach Training Alliance and then opened Jones Coaching.”
There are many professional coaches out there, so Jones knew she had to offer something different. “I tailor my work for the individual client. So one size does not fit all. My overall goal is for a client to leave me with a game plan he/she can follow. I often help people sort through a plethora of ideas to get to the heart of what they truly want to do, not what they think they should be based on past experience,” she explains.
It is also her approach that she says is different. “I have a calming style that helps a lot of people who are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. I think, too, that it is important to simply feel comfortable with someone with whom you are sharing a lot of personal information. The ethics of my profession require me to keep information confidential, but a client has to develop a sense of trust. I’ve developed that, I think, and I get good references and referrals,” she explains. “And I am careful not to promise an outcome. That’s not what coaching is about. I will not promise you a new job, a big promotion, etc. I can help you develop a plan that will put you on the path to achieving your goal, but the client is the one doing the work. As I often say, a coach can train you, but can’t play the game for you.That said, I let people know it’s okay to change their minds as part of the process. I have had clients who after several months of work decide they want to do something completely different. And that’s fine. The key is to gain clarity about what you want.”
There are common issues most people ask coaches to help them with. “People usually want help working with a difficult boss or co-worker(s) or they want to leave where they are and either strike out on their own or make a radical career change,” notes Jones, who says her industry is cyclical. “At the beginning of the year, people seek out coaches because it’s part of their list of New Year’s Resolutions to make the new year a better one. Some people, especially younger clients coming out of college or grad school, want help with their job search or launching a business, so I usually see a spike around April or May. I often get people who want to give a gift of coaching to friends who are struggling or to graduates. So they will pay for a consultation or a 12-session package (the minimum) to get them started,” she adds.
Her biggest business lesson? Jones answers, “Stepping out on faith is fine, but stepping out on faith with a plan is even better.”