Find a Career Coach to Level Up Your Outlook

Find a Career Coach to Level Up Your Outlook

Sometimes we need a little bit of career guidance, but don’t know who to turn to for help. While you may have your mom to turn to, she may not be the right person to tell you if it’s time to quit your job or not.

That’s where a career coach can help. Like any coach, a career coach is there to guide you through the ups and downs of your career. They can help you understand what your missteps are and how to correct them. And they can be a neutral, objective source to help you frame and understand any work-related issues you’re facing.

But choosing a career coach isn’t the same as joining the softball team. Finding the right career coach means not only understanding what you want from a coach but also knowing what qualities you want in a coach.

Know what you want.

Before you hire a career coach, ask yourself what you want to gain from career coaching. You don’t need a step-by-step plan or even a clear idea of what comes next. If you did, you probably wouldn’t need a career coach!

However, you should have a general idea of what you want a coach to help you accomplish. Are you trying to change careers and want guidance? Do you love your current career but feel “stuck” and want advice on how to get “unstuck”? Are you starting your own business and want someone neutral who can help mentor and guide you?

Knowing what you want from a career coach will help you find the right one. Many coaches specialize in an area, and connecting with the right coach with the right expertise will go a long way toward helping you get the most out of your career coaching sessions.

Know what a career coach can’t do.

Once you know what you want from your career coach, you can start your search. However, no matter which coach you choose, understand that a career coach will not help you find a job, no matter how much you want them to. If that’s what you’re looking for, connect with a headhunter or a recruiter.

A career coach helps you define your career goals, then works with you to create a realistic action plan for you to accomplish those goals. More importantly, a career coach holds you accountable if you aren’t working on your action plan, then helps you figure out what’s going wrong and how to get back on track.

What to look for in a career coach.

There are several factors to consider when evaluating and choosing a career coach. Beyond the obvious “we clicked,” feelings, consider these factors:


Some career coaches are “generalists.” Others are “specialists.”  This means that some career coaches have more experience working with clients in a specific area, like career changers or older workers. Other coaches can draw on personal experiences to help guide you. For example, some career coaches have experience in entrepreneurship and can share insights that only another entrepreneur could know.

While there’s no “better” version of a career coach, you may be better off choosing a specialist if you have a solid idea of what your goals are and want specialized help.

Certification and Education

While there are no certification requirements, many career coaches choose to pursue certification. These bodies require members to follow a code of ethics, provide additional training, and help coaches tap into a network of like-minded professionals for support and guidance.

And while there’s no “career coaching” degree program, some career coaches may have a background in counseling, social work, or psychology. While having this background does not make a career coach “better” than one who doesn’t, if you want to explore more than your career, you may want to consider someone with this kind of background or education.


This isn’t their first rodeo. A great career coach will have years of experience working with professionals at a variety of levels, both in brick-and-mortar and remote environments.

But don’t just ask how long they’ve been a career coach. Ask how many individuals they have coached. Being a coach for 20 years doesn’t mean anything if they’ve only coached 20 clients in that time. Ask for referrals and see how happy or unhappy former clients are.


You know, even if you don’t want to admit it, that you’re not their only client. A coach who doesn’t respond to your inquiries immediately is OK, as long as they respond within 24 hours or so. Whether in person or virtually, you want a coach that responds when you’ve got questions or need support outside of your coaching sessions.

Red Flags

Just like anything in life, you’ve got to keep an eye out for problems. As an unregulated industry, anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a career coach. Make sure to watch out for red flags.

Uses High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Interviewing your potential career coach before you enter into an agreement is a smart idea. A good career coach should welcome your questions. Also, a good career coach should interview you to see if you’re a good fit.

However, if at the end of that session the coach is pressuring you to sign on the dotted line, don’t. A good coach knows that it’s not about making sales. It’s about making the right connections. And if you and that coach don’t connect, it’s better to walk away then enter into a doomed relationship.

One Size Fits All

Every coaching session should be unique to every person. Even if the coach has a specialty, no two clients are alike, which means no two coaching sessions are alike.

While you’ll never know if the coach is using a “fill in the blank” technique for coaching, if you start to get the feeling that the coach isn’t listening to you and isn’t personalizing your sessions, listen to your gut. It’s probably right, and you may need to move on.

Has a Plan For You

A good coach doesn’t make the plan. A good coach helps you figure out what plan you want to make for yourself and lets you create it. Anytime a coach is guiding you on a path and insists you must follow it, you’re not being coached anymore. You’re being bossed, and that’s a very different relationship.

Coaching isn’t just for athletes.

Career coaches can help take you to the next level professionally. They can help guide you when you’re lost, hold you accountable when you slack off, and cheer you on when you need it most.

Choosing the right career coach can help put you on the path to success, no matter what success means to you.

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By Kristi DePaul | Categories: Remote Management

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