What Is a Career Coach and When to Hire One?
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What is a career coach?
A career coach specializes in helping people identify their career goals and develop strategies to achieve them through advice, tools, and techniques that enable you to choose the right profession and develop the skills necessary to be successful.
A career coach can assist people at any stage of career planning, whether just starting out, looking to pursue a new career, or hoping to advance within their current profession. Coaches usually work one-on-one and serve as valuable resources by offering personalized guidance, support, and feedback.
What does a career coach do? 9 most common services
According to the latest data, there were over 11,300 career coaches in the US in 2021, and the number has been increasing. Since the pandemic, the value of career coaching has been emphasized, which doesn’t come as a surprise if you have in mind work trends like the Great resignation and quiet quitting. People are leaving jobs where their values don’t align with the company’s and are looking for more appropriate career opportunities.
Career coaches offer various services depending on the individual, background, experience, or end goal. Here’s what a career coach usually does for their clients:
- Conducts skills and interest assessments to identify potential career paths
- Helps clients develop career goals and create action plans to achieve them
- Assists with job searching strategies, such as resume writing, updating LinkedIn profile, and cover letter creation
- Guides networking and job interview skills
- Offers advice on negotiating salary and benefits
- Provides support and accountability throughout the career development process
- Helps clients navigate career transitions, such as changing industries or returning to work after a break
- Guides professional development and continuing education opportunities
- Helps clients identify and overcome obstacles that may hold them back in their careers
The process of working with a career coach
Working with a career coach is tailored to the individual’s needs and depends on the coach’s style. Even so, the following steps are generally included during a one-on-one coaching process.
- Initial consultation to discuss the client’s career goals, challenges, and expectations from the coaching
- Assessment to identify the client’s skills, strengths, and interests
- Goal-setting based on the assessment results, usually including SMART career goals
- Action planning which involves the development of a strategy to achieve the goals, such as networking strategies, updating the client’s resume, and exploring job search techniques
- Regular coaching sessions for guidance, support, and feedback
- Evaluation of the plan (and making adjustments as needed)
Benefits of working with a career coach
A career coach can be a valuable resource for anyone looking to take their professional life to the next level. Whether you’re looking for a career change or simply some guidance in your current role and possible next steps, you may experience some of the following benefits.
Clarify career goals
Working with a career coach can be a game-changer when clarifying your career goals. A coach can help you identify your strengths, values, and interests and then work with you to understand what you want out of your career.
By providing a safe space to explore your options, a career coach can help you discover your true passions and align your career goals with your personal values. They can also provide the tools and resources to create an actionable plan for achieving those goals.
Improve job search strategies
Job searching can be daunting, but working with a career coach can give you a major advantage. A coach can help you identify job opportunities that align with your career goals and provide the tools and resources you need to stand out in the application process.
From polishing your resume and cover letter to perfecting your interviewing skills, a career coach can help you confidently and easily navigate the job search process. They can also provide valuable networking strategies and insider tips on accessing the hidden job market and exclusive job offers.
Navigate workplace challenges
Navigating workplace challenges can be stressful and overwhelming, but a career coach empowers you to tackle these obstacles head-on. A coach can provide you with a fresh perspective on the situation and offer guidance on effectively communicating with your colleagues or managers.
They can also help you develop strategies to manage difficult work relationships, address conflicts, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Armed with these tools and techniques, you'll be better equipped to navigate workplace challenges gracefully and confidently.
Achieve work-life balance
Achieving work-life balance is essential for your overall well-being and happiness, and working with a career coach can help you achieve it. A coach can help you identify your priorities, set realistic goals, and develop effective strategies to manage your time and energy.
Working with a career coach makes establishing boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and creating a sustainable work-life balance that aligns with your values and goals easier. These processes help to avoid burnout, maintain productivity, and sustain your overall well-being.
Signs you may need a career coach
Career coaches offer a versatile range of offerings (and benefits) you may not realize you need. Professionals recommend hiring a career coach before you even need one, just to check in with your professional goals and ensure that you are on the right path.
Even so, there are a few instances where a career coach may be a knight in shining armor. Consider the following signs that you need a career coach.
You feel stuck
Feeling stuck in your current job or career path can be frustrating, but working with a career coach can help you break free from the rut and move forward. A coach can help you identify your strengths, passions, and potential opportunities and develop a plan to pivot your career in a new direction.
You feel confused about your next step
If you're feeling unclear about your career goals or what steps to take, working with a career coach can help you gain clarity and direction. By identifying your strengths, passions, and values, exploring potential career paths that align with what’s best for you is easier. A career coach will also guide you in creating a plan of action to achieve your goals and offer ongoing support and accountability to help you stay on track.
You struggle to navigate the workplace
Navigating workplace challenges and conflicts can be tough, but working with a career coach can help you face these challenges with a cool head. A coach guides how to communicate effectively with your colleagues or managers, develop strategies to manage difficult work relationships, and address conflicts with confidence and professionalism.
You feel overwhelmed
Working with a good career coach can help you regain your balance and take control of your life, especially when feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. A coach can help you identify your stress's root causes, develop strategies to manage your workload, and prioritize self-care.
How to find the right career coach
No two career coaches are the same, so it's important to research and choose the career coach that aligns with your specific needs, goals, and personality. Take your time to do thorough research and make sure you've chosen the best person to help you create an ideal career path.
- Look for certifications or credentials to ensure that the certified career coach has the relevant training and experience in career development (for example, they’ve completed training by the International Coaching Federation (ICF))
- Check for references and testimonials from past clients (or ask for references if you can’t find any online)
- Consider compatibility and choose a coach whose personality and coaching style align with your own preferences and needs
- Use a free consultation if available, as sometimes you won’t be able to tell if you’re a good fit until you speak to the coach
- Consider flexibility and costs, as career coaching can be a considerable investment you might need to prepare financially for
Career coaching FAQs
Do you still have questions about finding the right coach and navigating the coaching space? Here are some additional answers for you.
What is the difference between a life coach and a career coach?
The main difference between life and career coaches is their focus. A life coach works with clients to improve various areas of their life, including relationships, health, personal growth, and overall happiness. In contrast, a career coach focuses on helping clients achieve their career goals, such as finding the right job, advancing in their current career, or changing careers.
How can hiring managers and human resources work with a career coach?
Hiring managers and human resources can work with a career coach to help employees develop and advance their careers. For example, HR professionals can partner with employees to provide career development opportunities, support employee retention, develop leadership skills, and address performance issues.
Can a career coach help with launching my own business?
A career coach is a valuable resource when planning to launch your business. For example, career coaches provide business planning guidance, offer networking and mentorship opportunities, provide guidance on marketing and branding, and offer ongoing support and accountability.
What is the difference between a career coach and a career counselor?
The main difference between a career coach and a career counselor is their approach and qualifications.
Career counselors typically have a background in psychology or counseling and work in educational or government settings, using assessments and career counseling techniques to help clients identify potential career paths.
Career coaches come from various backgrounds and may have experience in fields such as business, human resources, or leadership development. They typically work with clients one-on-one to help them identify their strengths, set career goals, and develop strategies to achieve them.
How can I prepare for a career coaching session?
Preparing for a career coaching session can help you maximize your time with your coach and achieve the best possible outcomes.
Before you meet with the career coach, reflect on your career goals, prepare questions or topics you want to discuss, bring any relevant materials to review, and be open and honest.
How much does a career coach cost?
The cost of career coaching depends on multiple factors, such as the qualifications and experience of the coach, the services you’re using, location, and more. In the US, the prices typically range from $50 to $200 per one or two-hour session.
Empower your career journey with a career coach
Whether you’re straight out of high school and paving your way to your dream job, you’re looking for a new job that matches your goals, or you’re looking for a career change, career coaching services offer guidance and support.
Working with a career coach enables you to navigate your career path successfully by clarifying your goals and developing the skills needed to overcome obstacles. The end result is a more fulfilling and balanced career.
In this content series, we share articles, templates, and guides to help job seekers and new hires navigate the world of work. These resources guide you through the entire hiring process, from preparing your resume to interviewing to identifying career growth opportunities.
Stay tuned for more actionable career advice.