Do You Need A Career Coach?

Do You Need A Career Coach?

You might not think you need a career coach, but the reality is plenty of the most successful and senior people you could think of rely on them to help push them to achieve and make the right decisions. So, might it be something worth investigating and investing in? We asked expert coach and author Kathy Caprino to share her insights…
Photography: ISTOCK/FIZKES

What type of person might benefit from using a career coach?

You can benefit from a career coach any time in your professional journey that you desire more success, joy, reward and fulfilment in your career or professional life. That can be when you’re stuck in an unhappy career, or when you’re starting out and can’t figure out the best direction. It can be when you’re longing for more success and understand that how you've been trying to get there just isn't working. It can also be a perfect time for a career coach when you’re ready to make a big change and need outside help to support it.

What are the ‘four buckets’ you talk about?

I hear from hundreds of professional women each year who have achieved great success only to wake up one day saying, “That’s it! I’m done. I need a change.” They’re facing challenges, goals or concerns that they need and want outside help navigating. And they’re ready to do the inner and outer work to make those changes a reality. Generally, though, they tend to fall into one of four categories:

#1: They want more success and reward in their current job.

#2: They want a new job in the same field that will leverage their current talents and abilities.

#3: They want (or think they want) an entirely new career.

#4: They’re considering launching a new venture and want to explore it more thoroughly.

So can a career coach help you achieve any of those things?

A great coach will help you achieve the outcomes you desire most in life and work. Thinking of the four buckets, those outcomes could be around engaging in the interview process effectively, or building more leadership impact, or attaining more joy and fulfilment in your work. They could be learning how to deal effectively with a toxic boss or colleagues, or how to stand out from the competition and get a promotion and higher compensation. Great career coaches help people take the steps that are needed today to enhance their careers and professional success, including building stronger networks, leveraging social media to build their personal brand, and connecting with powerful mentors and sponsors who help them thrive.

Is it really possible for them to help you find a better job?

Anyone can reinvent the core aspects of their professional life and create work that leverages who they are and what they are talented at and passionate about. That said, there are realities about today's corporate workforce and there are limitations to what the corporate world considers an ideal candidate for any particular role. The key is to build a plan together with your coach that is ‘SMART’: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. This will get you to where you want to go, and address the core challenges in an empowering, successful way.

Great career coaches help people take the steps that are needed today to enhance their careers and professional success, including building stronger networks and connecting with powerful mentors and sponsors who help them thrive.

What are some of the main pros and cons?

The happy news is there are many effective and powerful coaches that can help clients achieve tremendously satisfying outcomes that can be life-changing. Great, well-trained and highly experienced coaches provide a powerful support structure, ongoing accountability, and vital new information and effective strategies that help clients finally see, act and think differently so they can achieve the high level of success and fulfilment they desire.

But there are many who haven’t been trained sufficiently (or at all) to truly help people change their lives. They’ve had only rudimentary coaching training that doesn’t go far or deep enough in terms of what’s required, meaning they don’t yet have the tools and processes to help clients do both the inner work required to change how they’re operating in the world. Hundreds of coaches are being trained to think it’s “all in the questions you ask clients” that moves them forward, and I don’t agree. It’s about the coach having a “proven model for change” that they take their clients through. The most effective coaches have had direct and personal experience with the type of challenges and issues clients bring to them. That way, they’re speaking both from deep experience as well as a strong expertise in conducting the coaching process effectively.

What are some of the major red flags to look out for then?

As with any service provider you hire, run if: you feel there’s isn’t a good fit with you in terms of their style and approach; you don’t feel positive, excited, upbeat and hopeful when working with them; they try to say they are the expert in your life (they’re not – you’re the expert); they are not in ‘harmonious sympathy’ with your goals (i.e. they don’t agree with what you want to achieve); or they can’t share with confidence what they think they can help you achieve.

Is it ever a waste of money?

Career coaching will be a waste of money if the client is not ready to do the real, brave work to change how they are operating towards their goal. In other words, if they remain defensive and fight the idea that change is necessary. If the insight that’s uncovered throughout the coaching process isn’t acted upon by the client, the results will be very limited. It’s also a waste of money when the career coach isn’t trained or experienced enough to help the client tackle the critical challenges that lie underneath the obvious issue.

So, bottom line – why work with one?

In the end, working with the right career coach can be a truly life-changing experience. People can build new careers that align with their core values and their talents, and arrive at new ways to speak up for themselves. They start being brave in life and work, and communicating more powerfully and asking for (and receiving) what they deserve. They can step up to negotiate for themselves and land significant promotions and raises. They learn how to interview and network effectively, and build a wonderful support community. They start developing and sharing their unique personal brand in ways that bring wonderful new opportunities their way. In short, finding the right career coach and doing the work can yield tremendous positive outcomes.

Interested? Here are Kathy’s three steps to finding a good career coach…

1. They’ve developed their own proven method

For coaches to help you make a powerful difference in your life, they should have developed their own, teachable point of view and their personal model for change – not just a regurgitation of concepts others have put forward. It’s said there are no new ideas in the world, but there are definitely new, powerful ways of coaching, sharing and exploring universal truths and critical concepts that lead to positive change and career success. For the coach to be a right fit with you, their model for change needs to speak to you directly and have proven efficacy in addressing the types of challenges you are experiencing.

What to look for: Look for evidence of the model for change the coach has developed. It should have specific steps and processes for moving you forward. If they can’t articulate their model for change, the process they use and the outcomes they regularly catalyse and help their clients generate, move on.

2.They have great free materials

The best coaches aren’t just running a business to get rich. Their emails aren’t about selling to you. They aren’t just interested in helping affluent people. They want to help (in some way) a wide array of people from many walks of life who are struggling with the same challenges they know how to address.

What to look for: Check out their website, blog, videos and downloadable materials. Read their free content. Does it move the needle for you, and motivate and inspire you personally? Does it inspire you to make change and take action? Does it help you operate differently in the world? Or does it just talk about how easy it will be to get to where you want to go?

3.Solutions are their main goal

Many professionals who’ve come to me for career help also have some deeper issues, such as depression, or an inability to make productive decisions, or they're facing toxicity and pain in some aspect of their lives. A key dimension of great coaching is not just staying at the superficial level and talking about resumés or LinkedIn profiles and interviewing, but helping clients go deeper to understand what could be in the way of their happiness, fulfilment and ultimate goals. Great coaches know when to refer their clients out to another service provider (such as a therapist) for a different kind of support.

What to look for: Find a coach who has deep, proven experience in support of many clients toward growth and the achievement of their highest goals, and knows how to help with issues beyond the superficial tactics. Make sure they have recommendations and testimonials that validate the work they’ve done to help others.


For more information, visit Her book ‘The Most Powerful You: 7 Brave Paths to Building the Career of Your Dreams’ is available here.

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