Leadership & Career Coach Talk with Jennifer Kirkelund

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Leadership & Career Coach Talk with Jennifer Kirkelund

Jennifer Kirkelund is passionate about coaching professionals to achieve success in all aspects of their lives. The purpose of her work is to assist clients to build resilience through personal growth and development. With the application of a solution-focused coaching process, Jennifer challenges and empowers individuals to identify values, strengths, and abilities. Through the application of innovative thinking and critical analysis, clients clarify goals and create strategic action plans. She provides attention to awareness and confidence to increase self-efficacy in individuals.

Employment in various levels of Government has included constituency, legislative, minister’s offices and departments. Jennifer has enjoyed working creatively and collaboratively with professionals, providing guidance and support to corporate leaders.

The purpose of her work is to help individuals develop career resilience through personal growth and development. Jennifer provides leadership coaching, professional development, performance excellence and effective conversations.


Employment counsellors provide assistance and information to job seeker clients on all aspects of employment search and career planning. They also provide advice and information to employer clients regarding employment issues and human resources. They are employed by human resource departments of establishments, employment service organizations, consulting firms, correctional facilities and by federal and provincial governments. Supervisors of employment counsellors are included in this unit group.

Job Forecast

In order to determine the expected outlook of an occupation, the magnitude of the difference between the projected total numbers of new job seekers and job openings over the whole projection period (2019-2028) is analyzed in conjunction with an assessment of labour market conditions in recent years. The intention is to determine if recent labour market conditions (surplus, balance or shortage) are expected to persist or change over the period 2019-2028. For instance, if the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was insufficient to fill the job openings (a shortage of workers) in an occupational group in recent years, the projections are used to assess if this situation will continue over the projection period or if the occupation will move towards balanced conditions.

The analysis of key labour market indicators such as job vacancies and employment growth as well as the unemployment rate suggests that the number of job seekers was sufficient to fill the job openings in this occupational group over the 2016-2018 period.

Employment Requirements

A bachelor’s degree or college diploma in employment counselling, career development or in a related field, such as human resources development, psychology, education or social services is required.

A master’s degree in counselling psychology or a related field such as educational psychology, developmental psychology or social work may be required.

In Quebec, membership in a professional association is mandatory to use the title ”counsellor”.

Need More?

Check out our Career Crisis Interview Series: 


Full Length Episode:

Complete Episode Transcript

We want to be able to look back on our careers as we’re retired and older and really be thankful for the opportunity and really thinking about the legacy that we want to be leaving behind.

But also to think to what do I want to be known for.

The Job Talk Podcast shares stories from people who are passionate and love what they do in their careers through conversation, we explore their careers, past work experiences and the education that got them to where they are now.

We are putting together a Career Crisis Ultimate Interview series.

We are asking experts to give their best advice and guidance around work anxiety, career pressures, career goal setting, and ultimately career transformation.

To learn more about this special interview series and get notified when it’s available, please visit our web page at…

thejobtalk.com/help Today’s guest is Jennifer Kirkelund.

Here’s our Job Talk with a leadership and career coach.

Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us today.

I’m going to jump right into the interview and get to the heart of it.

You’ve worked at various levels in government.

What why did you make the decision to change to becoming a leadership and career coach.

It’s such a long story, but it’s a good one.

And my career has definitely not been linear.

It’s not from point A to point B.

If you could kind of picture a metaphor of a climbing wall that that’s me.

So years ago, I had trained to become a career coach and I had worked with nonprofits and worked in high schools and.

And then I also worked in government part time connecting Albertans to resources.

And that’s kind of how it started and putting out fires.

And then when my husband and I, his business had sold and we’d moved up to Edmonton and the Edmonton area, then I got into more into government and kind of worked doing career stuff kind of on the side.

And then several years into government and opportunity presented itself to become a career coach, working with government employees.

And that’s kind of how I got into to that becoming a career coach with employees working within the government and different all different levels from admin assistants all the way up to executive directors and senior leadership.

And that’s kind of where it went from there.

So what types of courses and education are you taking to become a career coach.

So my first degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Then I did a diploma in career development through Concordia University of Edmonton, and then from there I became an Erickson certified professional coach.

And then I did other trainings within coaching to become to enhance the skill set as a coach. Yes.

So this is the education that you’re taking in, the courses that you’re taking.

Is this happening in the evening.

And the reason I ask, could you do all of this education if your kids were small.

Or did you need your kids to graduate from high school and start their life with university to be able to do it both.

So I think for my kids, if you were to if they were on the call with us right now, they would kind of laugh and they would say, well, mom’s always been in school.


So my husband and I, we had our kids young, quite young.

And so what came first.

And while they were young, I went back to school and worked evenings and weekends to finish all of the education.

And then when my youngest daughter graduated from high school, then I made the decision to go back and do a master’s degree in counseling psychology.

So they kind of just laughed.

They think that that’s kind of all kept her is for school.


Well, let’s let’s plug what you’re doing right now.

What services do you provide to your clients.


So I am a career coach and that’s kind of primarily what I do, but I also dabble a bit in leadership performance as well.

So individuals come to me either mid-career or even just starting out wondering, well, what do I do with my life.

And what should I do.

And so I get to join them on a journey to discover what it is that they want to do and help them through that.

And as I said previously, I work with individuals who are mid-career, people who are either looking to become more effective in their role, whether that’s through professional development or experiential learning.

And I also support people nearing retirement and planning for that.

And those are those are fun conversations, to be honest, helping people find out what they were doing in that stage of life and how.

How do you know if a client, a potential client, is going to be the right fit for you.

And that is actually the client has to decide that for themselves as well as if I am the right fit for them.

Yeah, we do kind of a preliminary session where we just kind of chat and talk about what the client’s goals are and what they’re hoping to achieve, what they would love to see happen around their career.

They get an opportunity to ask me questions as well.

And, and I guess it just to see if there’s a natural fit.

And if not, then I would definitely refer them to other colleagues that I have or individuals help connect them to resources that would better serve them.

What are your techniques for pushing people out of their comfort zones, and does that happen.

Is that are you trying to help people.

You know, yeah.

Basically come out of their comfort zones.

I like doing that, to be honest.


I like to challenge people in a good way.

If you kind of think of the analogy of having a pebble in your shoe walking in, it’s a little bit uncomfortable, but not enough to take it out that to me.

And so I really want people to to challenge people to think outside the box and to really to consider different options and to challenge their perspectives and also to challenge their beliefs.

And values are not value, sorry, but beliefs about who they are and what it is that they want.

Yeah. Yep.

So if not, we would just be having a really nice conversation and I mean, that’s helpful, but that’s not going to help them choose their career or help them better themselves that way.


And how do you track a client’s progress.

Great question, Kim.

Yeah. So tracking well, every session that we’re working together, the individual has year to complete and and most often it’s their identified goals, their actions that they want to take.

And so I’m helping build in an accountability and commitment with that.

And then every time that I meet with the client and challenging them as to what they accomplished and if they didn’t accomplish those tasks, we spend some time in discussing why and what and reevaluating the goals and what they want to accomplish, and always in every conversation, just checking in with the client about what it is that they want to do and then over time, we kind of in the beginning we set goals about what we want to accomplish and set small steps as to what they want to achieve.

And that’s how we measure and measure growth and progression through that.

Imposter syndrome is something I’ve struggled with throughout my my career.

Can you is it is it a common thing.

Can you explain to our listeners what imposter syndrome is and how you can help people.

I guess, you know, out of that mindset of being feeling like an imposter.

I do sometimes feel like an imposter.

It’s common.

It’s quite normal.

We want to perform well in the tasks that we’re doing and we want to look and be seen as competent and it’s something that we all kind of grapple with.

And just giving you an example is for those individuals who are thinking about moving into management and those most people have that imposter syndrome of like, I don’t know if I could do that.

And so it’s it’s kind of challenging people, again, to think outside the box and think about possibilities and doing that and to work with an individual to build confidence, to acquire their goals.

And yeah, I have imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome.

Sorry, I’ve had one cup of coffee and trying to put my words together this morning.

It’s definitely a trying and I find myself even to just finishing your master’s degree and having completed the practical experience as a psychologist, I too have imposter syndrome.

I hope people think that I’m competent.

What people think that I know what I’m doing.


And can they tell if I’m winning.

Is it so it’s tied to confidence and you know, I went through a career change and it’s it’s funny.

You can’t really you don’t know what it feels like until you go through it.

So, you know, you’re plodding along through life, you’re confident, and then one day it feels like your confidence is gone.

And I think I tied imposter syndrome to that.

How do you start to improve somebody’s confidence or the way they look at themselves.

It’s it’s really getting underneath if a person’s feeling fearful.

Where is that coming from.

Where do you feel that within your body.

What’s what are you experiencing and pausing and taking a step back to reflect on how that could be.

What I think, too, is with our society is that our careers are tied so much to our identity of who we are as a people.

Like if I were to meet in conversation, like anything for you, what is it that you do.

Yeah, it’s just a natural given.

It’s a small talk.

And so there’s so much tied to that and there’s so much pressure there.

And it’s funny and I can it’s.

but I completely answer your question.

You did? Did.

You did.

And I was just thinking I was at a company picnic yesterday and I was I was making a point to observe the interactions between people and the question, what do you do for a living.

What do you do for work.

Is the first question that that people would ask at that picnic.

And to a certain degree, I find that sad because is that what society is built up, that we’re just defined by what we do in our our 9 to 5 in our work life.

So that that’s a sad statement almost to me.

It’s so true, though, isn’t it? Yeah.

But yeah, absolutely is the first question that I heard everyone when they were meeting, it’s just like, what do you do for work.

So I’m just like, why can’t we talk about hobbies.

Because, you know, I agree.

It’s so sad because we people are interesting and we’re complex and there’s so much more to us than a job title and where we work and when we don’t ask questions about if we just stick to those questions about who you are and what is it if we just stick to those questions about who you are and what is it that you do, then we’re limited in what we really get to know about a person.

that you do, then we’re limited in what we really get to know about a person.

Yeah, for sure.

You know, your industry, it feels like there is a little there are a lot of snake oil salesmen in your industry Oh, you know, I’ve I’ve experienced it.

And there’s a lot of people out there willing to help you and claim that they’ve they’ve got all the right answers through phishing exercises.

What should a what should a person What should a what should a person should do if they’re in a personal or professional crisis.

Sometimes it’s both because they can be connected.

What’s they look for when seeking out a coach.

And I agree, and it’s really frustrating for me after having gone through all of the education and and testing and auditing.

It’s very frustrating for me to go online and see my social media feeds filling up with people who promise this really quick answer.

You can have everything that you desire, but for me, I would be looking for if you’re looking for a coach, but for me, I would be looking for if you’re looking for a coach, you definitely look for someone who is accredited.

And so for me, I’m accredited.

I’m a professionally certified coach, accredited with the International Coaching Federation.

So I’ve finished all of the requirements and and I’m an accredited coach.

And also with that too is seek look for someone who has the education and the background in the particular area that you’re looking for.

So not only am I a sort of professionally certified coach, but I also have training in career development.

And a lot of people will hang up a shingle outside their door and say, I’m a life coach.

Yeah, I’m a career coach.

I can help you make all your dreams come true.

And they’re not qualified to do those specific tasks.

And within career development, it’s quite a complex field and it’s so much more than just completing online interest inventories to determine your career path.

And so really do your homework, a career searching for your career and planning should be the same as buying a home, buying, making a major life purchase.

Lots of times people just wait for something to fall into their laps.

And and so this this decision where you want to go with your career really should take a lot of time and energy researching to make sure that you are speaking with a qualified professional.

to make sure that you are speaking with a qualified professional.

It’s also important to ask them about their knowledge about the career development process, and that will weed out those coaches who say they have experience, in career development and may not.

So the first phase of the career development process is reflect.

And as I said previously, it’s all about understanding the individual, what your educational history was, what are your interests, what are your values, what are your strengths.

Those skills.

That’s the important first phase of the career development process, because typically most individuals will look at a profession, a job title, and try to fit themselves into it.

But it’s really important with the career development process to pause, take a step back, get a strong sense of who you are, and have a strong knowledge that self-awareness piece, that’s the first stage of development.

The second stage is all about research.

And so once again, when I’m working with a client, if they have that first phase finish, then we start looking at occupations of interest and we don’t just look at job titles, we look at duties and responsibilities.

And I kind of gauge with the client as to how interested are you in that.

And so we we work through that doing some research online.

But then I also support the individual to talk to people, people who love what they do love to talk about it.

You buy them a fattening Starbucks and you ask them some open ended questions.

You get such great information from them.

So coaching an individual to do informational interviews.

So that whole research phase is a research project, but it’s on themselves.

So then once they have all of that data and that information, then we sit down and we kind of weed through it and go through it, and then we we look at those criteria that we established in that first phase, those checkboxes of what you’re looking for.

And we see how different occupation is and might check off those boxes.

The third phase is it’s reflect research.

Decide… is making some decisions on looking at how long you want to go to school, what kind of work environment do you want to be in.

And then we work through a process where we help them decide about what they want to do, and then the final phase is planning.

So let’s take all of that information, those choices, and to create some action steps and to move forward.

And it’s definitely not a linear process.

It’s a circular one.

And so we might pause at one phase and a person might talk to an individual and realize that they don’t want to do that role.

And that’s okay.

Then we work a little bit backwards and then we go for it again.

So it’s really important when you’re looking for a career coach, make sure that they have education and training in the career development process.

Yeah, it’s really it’s huge.

Yeah, it’s really it’s huge.

It’s interesting you mention that.

Do you find that a lot of people get hung up on their age and so you’re you’re going through a crisis and speaking personally, 47 years old.

47 years old, and you want to make a career change.

But then you look at some of the lengths of the years you have to put into just going through the training and education process.

Like I don’t think it’s realistic.

And my dad would probably confirm this, that I could turn around and become a brain surgeon.

So I don’t know.

I guess my question was at the front of that before the tangent, do you find that people get hung up on their age and feel like they’re too old to change.

Oh, definitely.

And a lot of that is it’s tied to fear a little bit, too, about what would be possible, but also to like definitely there is ageism and there is sexism that we will experience through our career.

And a person thinks, well, you know, we have X amount of time until I retire.

What do I want to do with that.

I want to challenge that a bit because I’m a person that went back to school to make it well.

Learning is a hobby for me, so I’ll always be going to school.

But you and I, we may see the world differently based on our worldview and what we believe about ourselves. But.

But the one thing that we have in common is our relationship to time.

And so I always ask people that is like, so in a year from now, if, if let’s just spend some time and think hypothetically, let’s imagine what could be possible.

So let’s say it’s a year from now and you haven’t made any decisions and you’re still in that role.

What’s that like for you.

How satisfying is that for you.

How meaningful.

Okay, let me come back.


So it’s a year from now or five years from now, and you decided to take that training and your role has changed.

What’s that like for you.

We want to be able to look back on our careers as we’re retired and older and really be thankful for the opportunity and really thinking about the legacy that we want to be leaving behind.

But also to think to what do I want to be known for and the life that I wanted.

We’ve only got one shot at this, so we want to maximize it and have the best possible.

And so it’s thinking about what you want to accomplish in your life and then looking backwards to where we are now and to think about, you know, yes, school is expensive, yes, it’s an investment, but it’s all about what you value and what’s important to you.

And so it’s important to consider that as well, too.

And so if we’re in a role that we’re feeling when our values are compromised, if we’re feeling frustrated, tired, sad, annoyed, it’s because we’re in a situation where our values are being infringed upon.

And so it’s really important for us to pause and check into that dial in and go, Where is that coming from.

Why am I experiencing that.

And it is possible to have those things that you want.

It’s just a way to work through that.

And I answer that question.

But yeah, it’s, it’s we want to look back on our careers and really be happy and really satisfied that we did something that we’re proud of.

We’re happy with. Yeah.

What are some obvious misconceptions out there about career and leadership coaches.

Obvious misconceptions.

Will anybody that’s promising you that you can have it all, you can do it all.

The phrase that really gets me is this work life balance.

Yeah, it’s just kind of like a buzzword they draw on.

Work life balance is defined differently by the individual.

It’s all about what works for you.

Yeah, not working for everybody.

So those are some important things to keep in mind and really avoid the sales pitch.

Yeah. Yeah. And slick marketing.

Slick marketing.

Look for qualifications, ask if you could speak, look at their references or testimonials or really powerful tool.

What do you think you love most about being a coach.

I just love joining people on a journey.

I love meeting new people and hearing about their backgrounds and their career history.

Everybody’s got some really unique, interesting stories and I’ve always loved that and I really enjoy the first phase of career development is reflect.

And it’s all about reflection about what your skills, your strengths, your values, your interests are.

And I really love those conversations with people to help them become more self aware of of who they are.

And those are fun conversations that that’s what I really enjoy.

And I love to see them going through this journey and then finally entering, whether it’s going back to school or finding a job or even making changes within their current role to become more effective in the role that they already have is really meaningful and really satisfying.

For me. Yes.

And some of your biggest challenges when you’re working with the client.

Sometimes people get stuck and they work so hard to stay stuck.

Sometimes people fear possibilities and options.

The fear of change can be huge for people and so that can be challenging.

But I enjoy a good challenge and I really like to ask some thought provoking questions using some different interventions to help them kind of get an idea of where that fear is coming from, how that started, and ways to work through that.

So what they could almost telling people that let’s do a little bit of shopping instead of making a commitment and deciding right here, right now, this is what you want to do.

Why don’t we just kind of address the fear and talk about it and work through it, but then let’s kind of look to see what’s going on over here.

out this door, to see what could be possible, and then want to look to see what might be possible for you.

Then we’ll come back and address that with the concerns that you have.


So most people, it’s, it’s I get excited because when you get resistance from somebody, you know that you’re making progress.

I think when I reflect back at what I went through, when I am calling it a midlife crisis, I was in a personal and professional crisis.

I think there were a lot of factors into it where I was 20 years into my place of business and I had that overwhelming feeling of being institutionalized and often kind of wondering what else is out there.

But at the same time, when you’re going through that, you feel like you’re in a constant state of fear.

Like everything, there’s danger.

You’re in a constant state of danger when when you’re not so, again, it’s it’s an interesting it’s an interesting challenge that can pop up in somebody’s life.

But I have two questions for you, and they’re very similar once they’re both specific, what advice would you have for someone considering making a career change.

Like if you were talking to somebody that has been in the job forever, what are the first steps.

And it might be to seek out a coach.


I think it’s I think we would start by pausing and just addressing the emotions of the individuals feeling at that time.

It can be all consuming.

We spend so much time at work, 60% of our lives or more is at work.

And so like we said previously, we were talking previously about how a society really pushes that identity and work and identity.

And when we’re in an all consuming job and we’ve spent, invested 20 years there, then we don’t really want to give that up because we’ve invested so much time there.

And I think I think it’s important to pause and really honor what the individual has accomplished and spend some time talking about values and how that role originally had satisfied an individual’s values.

And then over time, that may have changed.

So when we come in, I’m hoping answering your question, please correct me if I’m not.

So we come to work as ourselves authentically, and there are times when sometimes we have to operate on a preference just based on the work environment.

We bring ourselves to work, we bring our values to work and and all of our outside life factors as well.

And then sometimes we get into a role and we’re doing really well.

And then sometimes those values, our values may change or fluctuate, but then there might be a point to where we count our values or sorry, I’m a visual person.

We talk with my hands, we come in to work.

Our values are a certain way, and there’s a discrepancy between the organization and ourselves.

And sometimes we can kind of tilt a little bit and shift our values just to make that work.

But then sometimes it gets to be too typical for us.

And so then we may have to pause and leave and and that’s okay.

That’s okay to do that because when we are in a job where we’re passionate about that, we enjoy that satisfies our interests, our values and our skills.

There’s positive psychology talks about that being flow, and you can be working in a task and look up a couple of hours later and realize where did they go? Yeah.

And so it’s important to pause and take stock of what the individual accomplished and the strengths that they’ve learned, what they’ve learned along the way.

And it’s okay to find a place for them where they will thrive.

Yeah. Yeah.

And understandably, when you’re saying midlife crisis, Carl Jung, who is the Swiss psychologist that came up with the personality typology, he really theorized that in the end, an individual’s life in their twenties and early thirties, they use all of their strengths and then they kind of get to a point where they’ve maximized all of their strengths and then they’re kind of stuck.

And so his approach hypothesized, he theorized that if an individual kind of works on weaknesses, the areas that are are not, that they’re not using as much as strengths, then a person can become balanced as well too.

Yeah, and that helps with crisis.

But typically the labor statistics are showing that individuals will be in a role for maybe 3 to 5 years. And.

You know, and.

Now like, it’s yeah.

I was just going to say it’s funny you mention that because I remember being in my 20 year career and always seeing that stat of and I would always think about my kids that they were going to change careers, you know, three, three to every 3 to 5 years.

And it was just it was so foreign to me, you know, dedicating my life to the same business.

And suddenly you turn around and you’re 47 years old, you’ve been a video shoot or an editor your entire life.

What do you do next.

It’s it looks like Mount Everest when you’re in that situation. So.

Yeah, definitely.

And then when you have a mortgage and bills and all that as well and a life built for yourself.

Yeah, yeah. It’s it’s mind blowing.

And now they’re predicting that, you know, your children, as they’re entering the workforce, your kids may have up to ten different career changes.

It’s it, but it’s because of technology, globalization.

And then we have a huge group of people that are going to be retiring and our demographics of our population will change.

There’s so much with the labor statistics, but it’s so hard for our kids right now as they’re like.

Both of us have children that are young and becoming young adults.

And there’s so much pressure on them to decide what they’re going to do for the rest of their life.

And they can.

It’s just such a huge expectation for them because of it’s so hard to know what they’re going to be interested in in ten years from now.


And so it’s it’s important that they realize that that what they may be doing may become outdated in a few years and they may have to transition to something different.

Fortunately, my kids have taken after my wife, so I think they’re going to adapt quite well.

They’re all excellent students, which tremendously proud of.

All, I’m sure you and great students.

You know, I was not phys Ed.

I was not a great athlete, but I really liked the curriculum in phys Ed.

So the second question I was going to ask is what kind of advice could you give to someone that is considering becoming a leadership and career coach.

What what can you give that person.

Because in my starting out, I lived it.


And I’m living it now.

Well, you worked in government at all levels.

Did you ever consider becoming a politician.

No, no, no.

I worked with politicians and I decided early on that that wasn’t my that’s a whole other conversation.


No, I the roles that I did with the politicians and I mean, that was a really great learning experience.

I’m so thankful for that because that helped me not only to connect with Albertans and to hear what was going on for them, but also to when I would see Joe Albertan yelling at a politician, No, I don’t think that’s for me.

But the background that I had in corporate really served me well to do leadership coaching.


And I’ve just been blessed to have the opportunity to do career coaching with so many different people.

So working with new Canadians, youth high school students, young adults, individuals just coming out of university, they come into government on internship programs and helping them navigate through that mid-career and career has just been giving me so much opportunity.

I think it’s important to for individuals to realize that they may have to work in different roles before they move into what would be their mid-career role.

Because I think those opportunities give you so much life experience and experience working with a variety of different people is really helpful.

The training for sure, definitely on the coaching training that I took was not easy, it was challenging and I’m so thankful that it was because it helped me to become better at what I do.

And it’s it’s important to to be working.

I’m not going to say just in corporate, but to have leadership roles as well, because it’s important for you to know where the individual’s coming from and to know to have empathy for what they’re experiencing and have an understanding of that as well.


well I came to you when I was going through a personal and professional crisis and you helped me out immensely.

So thank you so much for you for that.

And Jennifer, I wish you all the luck as as you proceed into your career.

And thank you so much for coming on the podcast to talk to us today.

I appreciate it.

You’re really welcome, Kim.

It’s always awesome talking with you and thanks for the opportunity.

And I also enjoyed working with you too.

Thank you for tuning in to The Job Talk Podcast.

For more information, please visit us at thejobtalk.com Our podcast music was created by our friend Mike Malone in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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