How Does Career Coaching Work?

Professional coaching is a field that has grown in recent years, as the job search and job application process has become more complicated, and technology has advanced. There are quite a few kinds of coaching, including Job Search coaching, Interview coaching, and Career coaching. Job Search advice and interview tips are fairly straightforward, but career coaching is a bit more ambiguous. What is it exactly? Well, it’s what it sounds like, but more general than the other popular kinds of coaching. Career coaching could span networking advice, direct professional mentorship, skill development, continuous education planning, and career roadmap planning among many other options. Still, how does career coaching work?

Finding the Right Fit

The first step for someone seeking career coaching is to find a reputable coaching firm. Simply searching for “career coaching” or “career coaching in my area” if you care about supporting local businesses should be enough to turn up a few. Then, you should scan the reviews to see what other customers have had to say. Of course, the more reviews there, and the higher rated they are, the better. Once you’ve whittled down the firms by review, you should then take a longer look at their websites to examine the exact services they offer and see if they meet what you’re looking for.

There are other critical items to look for when searching for career coaching service firms. One is how much direct contact you have with the coach (whether over the phone, virtually, or in-person). Some firms might try to skate by with providing materials and resources and not delivering as much direct person-to-person, white-glove service. If you’re budget-conscious, these services could still be an option, but they won’t be nearly as helpful as one where you’re spending a great deal of time in direct correspondence with the coach.

Working With a Certified Professional

Another important distinction that some career coaching services will offer is coaches with professional certifications, such as the SHRM-CP (Society of Human Resources Professionals – Certified Professional). Any person can provide career coaching advice, but those who are trained specifically in the broader realm of professional development, career advancement, and interviewing and recruiting can offer more targeted and evidence-based suggestions. If the firm doesn’t specify whether their coaches have certifications (or related Bachelor or Master degrees), don’t be afraid to ask!

Once you’ve selected the career coaching organization, you will most likely talk with a sales representative to set up the services and schedule a meeting with your coach. The actual services involved in career coaching are varied. They can include narrower focuses on job search advice coaching and interview coaching, as well as specifics on offer negotiation, roadmap planning, and continuous education discussion.

What Are the Benefits?

In a broad sense, career coaching is exactly what it sounds like – moving your career forward in a path that you’d like. For some people, who don’t even know what they want to do or where they might want to take their career (such as college graduates, or those going through a mid-career crisis), this could be as straightforward as discussing potential career options. This might involve reviewing your skills, discussing what kinds of things you like doing (customer service, creative projects, data analysis), what fields you might have interest in (manufacturing, aerospace, advertising, etc.), and other important items such as location and desired pay. Hopefully, over the course of a meeting (or multiple meetings), you can come to some sort of idea on what career might best suit you – and what strategy to pursue to attain that career.

For people who have a better idea of what they want to do, and just need help getting there, career coaching can be more specific and tailored. For example, the coach might provide a list of training courses and certifications that could help you reach the next step in your career. For someone hoping to enter project management, this could be a PMP (Project Management Professional) certification, and for someone in manufacturing, it might be a Lean Six Sigma Belt. Other coaching could involve even more specific situations, such as how to navigate a difficult workplace environment and continue progressing, or when it’s time to leave companies based on lack of growth or development.

However, such coaching should ideally not be a one-off occurrence. A full hour, while helpful, is often not comprehensive enough to answer all the questions a client might have and provide needed support. Career coaching should be an ongoing involvement, where the client can reach out (even if via email) to the coach for further questions, advice, and to deliver progress updates. The ideal situation is one where the coach and client develop a long-term relationship and the coach delivers continued recommendations to guide the client along their career development arc.

Career coaching is a rapidly growing field that provides all sorts of support, advice, and aid to professionals across a range of roles, industries, and career stages. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


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