Career Coaching Explained

What is Career Coaching?

Simply put, career coaching is a partnership between a client and a coach through which the client learns to define and achieve goals, specifically those that are career or job related. Clients are typically in career pain or seek to re-position their skills and careers to take them to the next level. Career coaches work one-on-one with a client for a series of sessions, either in person or over the telephone.

Career coaches tackle a myriad of job and work issues.

Here’s a sampling:

  • Selecting the best career options to pursue
  • Redirecting a job search to explore possibilities in different industries or in new disciplines
  • Creating a game plan for changing careers – and actually doing it
  • Preparing for the next promotion
  • Learning how to stay motivated within the confines of a current job
  • Developing the skills to deal with a difficult boss
  • Moving forward with a new life and career after being terminated
  • Determining the best choice among several job offers
  • Deciding whether to freelance or start a new business
  • Deciding between job paths within an organization
  • Learning how to deal effectively with office politics

How does Career Coaching work?

Usually, a client enters the coaching partnership unhappy about his/her current job or future prospects. During the initial session(s) the client and coach discuss the changes the client wishes to make. Often the coach will assign homework such as research and written exercises, reawakening the client’s creativity and uncovering career-related values. Sometimes an assessment will be used, such as the Myers-Briggs or the Strong Interest Inventory. The results help tap into the client’s strengths, potential, and career possibilities. The objective is to jumpstart the client’s thinking and provides a framework for career exploration, questioning and re-considerations. From this platform the client’s career goals are established.

Once the client and coach have established career goals, the coach helps the client break these goals into “action steps.” Depending upon the situation, the client (with the coach’s help), might develop a 30 second “commercial,” refine networking skills, rehearse scenarios for complex interview situations, develop tools for dealing with a difficult boss, etc. These actions steps form the practical tools that will move the client forward.

Profound Shifts

In addition to the specific “action steps,” the real value of career coaching lies in helping clients overcome their fear of change and transforming their career anxiety into positive action. This is where the impact of career coaching can most readily be felt and where profound shifts take place.

Often clients want to overcome a long-standing fear such as networking at a professional gathering, starting a new career, or securing a higher-level job. The trust and partnership that is developed in a career coaching relationship provides a safe and supportive environment that enables clients to try new approaches, approaches that result in new skills and new rewards.

Finding the Right Career Coach

Career coaching is a very personal and life changing process. Develop an awareness of the coaching style that will be most comfortable for you. Does the coach understand your concerns? Does the coach work in an open-ended way that is matched to your personality? Or is coaching based primarily on career assessment tools? Does the coach’s speaking style mesh with yours? Does the coach have the depth of career experience to offer more than boilerplate responses? Do you feel the coach would be sensitive to your needs yet could challenge you? Make sure that you get your questions fully answered and choose your coach with care. A good career coach can help you change jobs; the right career coach can help you find a new awareness of your place in the world.