Do you need a career coach?

A career coach can help you make a good job match based on your skills and interest and give you the tools you need to do a successful job search.

When you're trying to figure out how to make the right moves to make the most of your career, sometimes you can use a career coach. Just like a football coach, a career coach can help you assess your performance, point out areas for improvement, and give you specific and concrete advice on how to better your game. The essence of career coaching is advice tailored to your needs, rather than general advice that might apply to many job seekers. Here are some times when you might want a career coach.

- You are changing careers

- Your industry is having bad times, and you want to think about the future before the layoffs hit

- You want a job that lets you balance work and family responsibilities

- You need some help assessing what jobs might be a good match for you

- You need help with specific skills, like creating a resume, networking and interviewing

Career coaches offer a wide range of services. These include personality assessment, and teaching job search skills, such as interviewing and networking. As you think about finding a career coach, you should consider which of these services would be important to you.


Most career coaches offer an assessment process to help you identify your working style and aptitudes. Often job dissatisfaction comes from people working in a job that doesn't suit their personality or skills. A very shy person trying to be a salesperson, or someone bad at math trying to be an accountant, are probably not very happy in their jobs.

The assessments are one or more tests that ask a series of questions to identify your interests and style. Typically you will be given a series of statements, and be asked how strongly you agree or disagree with them.

The tests help you better understand what good working environments are for you. Some people thrive on a chaotic, rapidly changing environment where they interact with people, others do well in working by themselves on detailed-oriented tasks. Some like to lead, some like to teach, some like to do the same thing each day, and others need variety. The assessments also look at your aptitudes - what are some of the things you are potentially good at, even if you haven't had a lot of experience using those skills.

Your career coach will take the results of these assessments and help you explore jobs that suit you. Sometimes the results can be surprising - many people stumble into a job just out of school, and stay in that work even though it really isn't a good fit. By identifying jobs that may be a better fit, you and your coach can work out a plan to transition to a different career - either through training, volunteer work, or learning new skills in your current job.

Learning Job Search Skills

Many talented and highly qualified job searchers have a hard time getting a new job. Sometimes a career coach can help the job seeker. Job seekers need a good resume, need to network with people who may know of jobs, and need to be able to do well in interviews. Career coaches can help you with all of these tasks.

A clear, targeted resume is essential. A good coach can identify the strengths and weaknesses in a resume, and help you get a strong and effective message across. For career changers, a career coach can help you identify skills from your old type of work, which are applicable to your new interest.

For many job searchers, the interview process is very stressful. A career coach can help you with practice interviews, and interviewing tips. Some career coaches tape practice interviews, and play them back, with commentary, just like the football coach who shows his players tapes of a successful defensive move. They can also help you hone your "elevator pitch", a sales pitch about you that is so short you can get it out in the minute or so of an elevator ride.

Finding a Career Coach

There are many career coaches available. When searching for a coach, look for recommendations from people you know first. Second, understand what this particular coach offers for services, and make sure the services meet your needs. Get some background information - how long has this coach done this type of work, how many clients has he helped, and what credentials does he have. Finally, understand what the fees and costs associated with the service are, and make sure you are comfortable with them.

A career coach can provide you with a lot of insight into your work style and interests, helping you find a satisfying line of work. A coach can also help you develop the job search skills you need to get the job you want.

© High Speed Ventures 2011