When to Consider Getting Help With Career Coaching

Updated July 21, 2022

When you're ready for a change in some aspect of your employment, there are resources available to help you. Additional education, training, professional organizations and job fairs may provide you with inspiration and guidance. In some instances, using a professional career coach may address your needs. In this article, we describe what professional career coaches do, list when you may want to use one and discuss what to consider when looking for a professional career coach.

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What is a professional career coach?

A professional career coach is an employment expert committed to helping people explore, navigate, enhance and develop their career paths. Some professional career coaches have specialties, like assisting new graduates in finding entry-level positions or aiding older workers as they move from one stage of their careers to the next. Other professional career coaches are generalists who work with people of all ages and in all stages of their careers. Professional career coaches may also be called career counselors or job coaches.

When should you consider hiring a professional career coach?

You may want to consider hiring a professional career coach when you want assistance:

Entering a field

Whether you are new to the workforce or are changing fields altogether, a professional career coach can help you find the right entry position. A professional career coach can advise recent grads, new certification holders and seasoned employees entering a different line of work on what to expect and how to make the most of the process.

Asking for a raise

If asking for a pay raise is not something you are comfortable doing, your professional career coach can advise you on how to proceed. Professional career counselors know about salary structures and pay grades and can help you determine what is an equitable amount of increase to ask for.

Getting other things you need

Professional career coaches can also assist you if you have trouble asking for other things you need and aren't getting at work. This includes things like managerial support, tools and training that are essential to your endeavors.

Managing work relationships

Sometimes, you may encounter people in the workplace who you just can't seem to figure out or work well with. When you've exhausted the approaches you know with little success, your professional career coach can offer insight into how to deal with coworkers and manage difficult work relationships.

Marketing yourself

Professional career coaches stay up to date on recruiting and hiring trends. They are well-positioned to provide advice on writing cover letters, updating your resume, curating your work sample portfolio and navigating applicant tracking systems.

Read more: Resume Writing 101: Tips for Creating a Resume (With Examples)

Preparing for interviews

It may be that despite all your skills and expertise, you simply don't interview well, and that hinders you in your career progression. A professional job coach can provide tips and help you practice your interview techniques so that you are confident and ready to impress in your next interview.

Read more: 7 Interview Practice Tips

Handling a layoff or position elimination

When your employment ends involuntarily—that is, you didn't resign, your position was eliminated or you were laid off in a staff reduction—it can be difficult to deal with. Professional career coaches have experience helping unemployed workers find new employment in the same or different fields.

Read more: Termination Versus Layoff: What's the Difference?

Making an ambitious plan

It may be that you have already set some ambitious goals for yourself in your career but don't know how to realize them. That's a perfect time to engage a professional career counselor to help you make those ambitions a reality.

Improving leadership skills

Professional career counselors are also adept at helping you grow in your current role. For example, if you are a leader in your company and want to improve your leadership skills, hiring a professional job coach is a proactive step you can take.

Read more: How to Improve Your Leadership Skills: Steps and Tips

Seeking a cultural fit

You may be satisfied with your role at a company, pleased with your work output, but still feel that something is not quite as it should be. It could be that you aren't a good fit into the existing corporate culture. A professional career counselor can take an objective look at your personality and help you determine whether your company's culture is the right place for you to be happy and successful.

Read more: Guide to Company Culture

Evaluating workplace conflicts

As an outsider with few preconceptions, a professional career coach can serve as a valuable aid in helping you evaluate workplace conflicts. Your coach may be the impartial party you need as you determine your course of action to resolve work-related tensions.

Read more: Dealing With Interpersonal Conflict at Work

Identifying opportunities for growth

A professional career coach can support your search for ways to grow in your role at your current company. Growth is often a prerequisite for advancement.

Identifying opportunities for advancement

There may be opportunities for you to advance at your current company that you don't recognize or know about. With experience across many different lines of business and levels of employee, your professional job coach is able to help you find those opportunities.

Maintaining work-life balance

Sometimes you may find yourself expending too much of your energy and time on work-related issues and not enough on self-care, family and friends. Your professional job counselor can help you find ways to bring work you and home you into better alignment.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance

Uncovering causes for dissatisfaction

If you have ongoing dissatisfaction at work but are unsure exactly why, a professional career coach may be able to assist you in identifying the underlying issues. Once again, in this situation, an unbiased third party may be the right person to help you pinpoint root causes for frustrations related to your employment.

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What should you consider when hiring a career coach?

Here are some things to consider as you search for a professional career counselor:

  • Location: If you are uneasy working virtually with a professional career coach, be sure to find one who is located within a comfortable distance.

  • Communication style: Search out a professional career counselor whose communication style appeals to you and doesn't conflict with yours. The two of you need to be able to talk honestly about important issues in order to work together successfully.

  • Personality: Trust your instincts when interviewing possible job coaches. If your coach is outgoing and you are shy, for example, it may be that you aren't well-matched.

  • Specialization: Find out if your potential professional career coach is a specialist or generalist. You'll want to have someone working with you whose talents align with your needs.

  • Reviews and references: Checking online reviews and professional references is imperative as you shop for a professional career counselor. Finding the right person to help you on your career path is just as important as finding a doctor you trust or a car dealership you can rely on.

  • Cost: The best career coaches you can find won't help you if you can't afford to pay their fees. You may need to budget ahead or save up to hire the professional job coach you want.

  • Credentials: A career coach doesn't have to be certified to be good, but many job counselors hold credentials from professional organizations. Do a search for “career coach credentials” to learn about how career coaches become certified, and let that information help guide your decision.

  • Contract: Be sure to establish clear terms with your professional career coach. Outline specific goals with deadlines attached.

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