How to know if career coaching is right for you

Feb 28, 2019

The world of work is changing. Disruption to every industry is impacting the way we work and the jobs we require. Our careers are continually evolving, with multiple career changes expected in an individual’s working lifetime.

Last year I changed careers, transitioning into career coaching after a decade in the recruitment industry. I’d seen rapid changes to the way we hire and find jobs. I knew it was critical that individuals began to take responsibility for the direction of their careers. I saw an opportunity to use my expertise to teach others how to manage and develop their own careers.

As a recruiter, I assisted people to move from one job to another in the same narrow field. I wanted to have a greater impact on the careers of thousands of professionals. My former recruitment role limited my ability to do so.

Today, as a career coach I work with high-achieving professionals who feel unhappy, unfulfilled or stuck in their careers. I help them clarify their career goals and develop the careers they want to create lasting changes in their professional lives.

Since making the transition, I’ve occasionally been asked questions such as: “Can you tell me what jobs I’d be suited to?” or “Are you able to assist me with finding a new job opportunity?”. As a career coach, I can’t tell you what career to pursue or find you a job.

So how exactly do I assist professionals in their careers? Below I clarify the major differences between career coaching and other related professions. Read on to determine if working with a career coach is right for you.

WHAT IS CAREER COACHING?

In a recent post, I discussed what coaching is and how it can support you. Career coaching focuses specifically on an individual’s career goals and issues impacting their professional life. I coach individuals who are stuck, uncertain what to do next, or who want to transition their careers. In my executive career coaching work with organisations, I support high potential employees who want to get promoted to a management role. Or new managers as they navigate their first leadership position.

HOW DOES CAREER COACHING DIFFER TO CAREER COUNSELLING?

Remember those career assessments in high school – the ones that provided a list of potential careers for you to consider? Career counsellors use career assessments and personality tests to suggest a list of career options. They provide information on study requirements, career pathways and practical support with finding a job.

Career coaches combine assessments with other coaching tools that consider an individual’s strengths, interests and values to support the coaching. Because of my recruitment and HR background, I view career assessments as one tool to help professionals assess their careers. However, I do not believe career decisions should be based exclusively on their results.

As a career coach, I personally use a range of coaching and assessment tools to support my clients. If required, I also provide supplementary guidance with job search strategy, CV or interview preparation as part of my overall coaching programs.

When I was considering a career change, I consulted a career counsellor and was presented with a list of career options that didn’t fit. They didn’t consider me as a whole person, or my entire life. A career coach will never provide you with a list of jobs or tell you which careers to pursue.

The key difference is that career coaching dives deeper into who you are as a person and what you want, including your values, purpose and what fulfilling work looks like to you. It also considers your whole life and how work fits in. A career coach will work with you to find your own answers, make your own career decisions and set your own career goals.

DO YOU NEED A CAREER COACH OR TO WORK WITH A RECRUITER?

Since transitioning into career coaching, I’ve had many former recruitment clients approach me about coaching. Once we’ve discussed what they’re needing assistance with, I’ve found a few clients are actually seeking specific advice on their job prospects, salaries or market conditions within their specialist field.

This is not my area of expertise as a career coach, as I work with professionals from a range of consulting and service based industries across Australia and globally. However, this is definitely where a specialist recruiter can help.

Recruiters assist you to find a new role in a profession where you already have sufficient existing experience. The best recruiters provide personalised advice throughout the job search process. They’ll have strong networks and be aware of suitable roles in your existing field.

When would you not use a recruiter?

I recently spoke to a highly experienced professional who wanted to transition into a new field. This individual expressed frustration at recruiters who only considered their existing experience, overlooking them for positions where they had no demonstrated experience.

Whilst I empathise, I know firsthand that recruiters are very busy people, juggling multiple job vacancies, interview processes and job enquiries. The truth is, recruiters are paid by their clients to find people with solid existing experience and they need to prioritise their time on the right candidates. If you’re looking to make a career change, a recruiter is not the best person to help you.

WHAT DO YOU DO INSTEAD?

It’s definitely advisable to connect with specialist recruiters who work in the area you’d like to move into. They can be a wealth of information on the market and helpful when building your network.

However, a more effective strategy is to use your network to make direct enquiries with companies or contacts in the field or industry you’re interested in. A career coach can also assist you to clarify your professional goals, provide accountability and support to execute your transition or help to overcome fears holding you back.

In summary, a career coach can’t find you a new role or tell you what career to pursue. Instead, they’ll help you understand who you are and what’s important to you at work, guiding you to make your own career decisions. They’ll also assist with mindset, confidence and provide accountability and support to help you execute your career goals.

Want help to take action on your professional goals + create the business, career + life you desire?

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult to find out how I can support you!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.