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What is the Purpose of a Career Coach?

Have you ever thought about hiring a career coach but then thought… no.


Perhaps memories of your school career counsellor came to mind.

The truth is, many people have never sought the services of a career coach. That’s either because it just wasn’t something they felt they needed or because they didn’t consider it.


In fact, most people only consider hiring a career coach when they’re making a major change in their career, relocating or when their career isn’t working out. Or if they’re desperate for a job but can’t get one.

However, there's more to it than that .


If you’re frustrated in your career and feeling stuck, under-used, overworked or underpaid, now could be the time to find out what a career coach does and more importantly, how they can help you.



What does a career coach do?


Very simply, a career coach helps you clarify the work you want to do and find the roles you’re looking for. A career coach does this by working with you to discover your underlying life purpose so you can find work that's fulfilling and motivating. That means a career coach can suggest careers you might not have considered before and help you find satisfying work you’re aligned with.


By assessing your personality and skills through various tests, a career coach can give you a different perspective on who you are so you have a better understanding about why your current role or career isn’t working for you. Through asking questions and discussions you can work with your coach to clarify your long-term career goals and create a career plan that will achieve them.


Finally, once you're clear about what you want, your career coach will help you structure your job search, put together job applications and coach you through the interview process.


Help you figure out what you want


Your ideal career will help you make the most of your greatest strengths, tap into your passions, and offer you the right balance of personal satisfaction, financial compensation, creative challenge, and time flexibility so you can enjoy your life.


Help you get clear on your career path


Some careers pathways are easy to discern but others are not. An experienced career coach will help you design a career plan that will get you where you want to go, even when the steps aren’t obvious.


Work out how to create a coherent career story


If you’ve done a wide range of jobs or worked in more than one industry, your CV can come across as incoherent. That makes it difficult for an employer to understand what you can offer. And if that’s the case, you’re unlikely to get interviews. An objective assessment of you will allow you to tie together your career story to create a compelling narrative that will communicate what you have to offer to any recruiter.


Help you figure out your true potential


This is possibly the biggest reason to use a career coach.


Unless you just want to be part of the herd, you need to uncover what you may not know you have. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re satisfied realizing only part of your professional potential or want to push the envelope and show the world what you are really capable of doing.


What is career coaching for students?


If you’re a student, you may be wondering whether career coaching is right for you, especially if you’re still only part way through your course. But even if you have only a vague idea of what you want to do, a career coach can help you assess your options.


Try this career coaching exercise to get a feel for what career coaching could do for you. It will help you see where you’re struggling and where you need help most.


  1. Assess your skills, talents, and interests. What do you like doing most, what excites you in life, what are you naturally good at and what have you already learned to do?
  2. What jobs or careers would you most like to do? These should match up with your interests and aptitudes. If not, something is wrong.
  3. Do you have all the skills you need to do your ideal jobs? If not, what do you need to learn? Read some job descriptions and work out what gaps you need to fill.


With the help of a career coach, you’ll be able to figure what you want and how to get it, which will mean you can get your first job faster and feel confident it’s the right thing for you.



How is a career coach different from a career counsellor?


Career counsellors and career coaches have unique approaches to helping clients. The main difference is in the approach each coach and counsellor takes.


Career coaches


  • Career coaches focus on the current situation and create action goals to help clients move forward.
  • A career coach is similar to an athletic coach. They assess where you are and encourage/challenge you to become a better you.  They may focus on outcomes, results and accomplishments.

Career Counsellors


  • Career counsellors look at past experiences or barriers that may be causing work challenges.
  • A career counsellor will assess your situation and subsequently detangle confusion or address the emotional reasons why you’re not making progress in your career – ending with a new direction.


When do you need career coaching?


You can choose to work with a career coach at any point in your career, but there are specific times when getting help will be especially helpful.


Those include times when you need a job fast, when you’re frustrated with your career progression and when you’ve reached the end of the line with your current choices. But mostly, you need help with your career when your work is having a significant negative impact on you and your life.


For example, if you’ve started to suffer with depression, you’re exhausted all the time, when your days feel like months, and you realise you’re living for weekends and holiday ... that's when it's time for a change.


Finding a new role can also become a priority if you’re being bullied at work and have no redress, if your boss is making unrealistic demands or when you’ve been applying for roles and not getting any of them.


  • That’s when a career coach can help you to:
  • Fully explore your career options
  • Change direction in your career
  • Make more progress in your career progression either with your current employer or a new one
  • Stop feeling stuck in your career
  • Position yourself so you’re ready for future opportunities
  • Manage threats to your career such as redundancy or changes in your industry
  • Ensure your working life aligns with your personal priorities
  • Create a career plan so you can direct your career, rather than having it "just happen" to you


There’s nothing to be gained by being miserable, frustrated or stuck in your career. You’re just losing ground and missing out on what life has to offer. Simply taking a career choice profile can open up your mind to new possibilities.


Once you realise there’s always something better out there for you, taking the decision to work with a career coach will become simple.



What does a career coach charge?


Like any service, career coaching can cost the earth or be very affordable. It depends on how much and what kind of help you need and what you’re willing to pay for it.


While individual career coaching is the ideal, there are many other ways to get the help you need. These include career workshops, online career coaching and distance learning options so it’s worth checking out all the possibilities. Then you'll know what’s possible and what you’re getting.


One to one career coaching


This is a more affordable option than you might think.  You may choose to combine personal career coaching with online or distance learning options so you have the best of both worlds.


Online career coaching


Online career advice has many benefits, including the fact your money isn’t paying for swish city offices. Working online means you can still get the help and advice you need but can do so where and when it suits you. You can do assessments and exercises when you’re comfortable. Online career options are likely to offer more and cost less than one-to-one consultations. Combined with personal coaching, this option can maximise flexibility with the benefits of personal attention.


Distance Learning


Career coaching and distance learning are a great option if you’re busy with a demanding job and busy life. Like online career coaching, you can work at your own pace both where and when you want to do the work. Again, you could combine distance learning with one-to-one or group calls to keep costs down while still getting the help you need.


Is career coaching worth the cost?


The best way to answer this question is to consider where you’ve got so far in your career and what would be different if you achieved your career goals. Only you know whether what you can achieve is worth the cost.


Think of it this way: a good career coach will more than likely have a positive impact on you and your career, which means it’s almost definitely worth investigating and trying out.


How do you find a career coach in the UK?


Selecting a career coach isn’t easy. You need to find someone with the right skills, the experience and the range of services you need. But how do you know if they’re right for you? This checklist will help you choose the right person for you. Be as vigilant in your search for a coach as you would for job hunting.


6 top tips on choosing a career coach that’s right for you


  1. Research your options: Check LinkedIn profiles to see client recommendations and ask people in your network for suggestions and referrals.
  2. Check experience: How much experience does your coach have – and are they any good? Check out their background here and read what their clients have had to say about them. [Link to Sarah’s About Me page]
  3. What is their area of expertise? Some coaches have different areas of focus, such as working only with executives or career changers. Decide what you’re looking for in your career coach and then find out if they offer what you want and need.
  4. Are they right for you? Finding the right person for you is as important as any other factor when looking for a career coach. Do you find them easy to talk to? Are they accessible?
  5. Dip your toe in the water. If you're unsure whether coaching is for you, try and book a session. This will give you a sense as to whether it’s right for you without making a big financial commitment.
  6. Manage your own expectations. Your coach can help you get "unstuck" and find the answers that are right for you. A coach helps you stay on track with your goals, explore options, and handle different elements of a job search – including rejection. Expect to go through a thought process to work out what's important to you, but a coach won't tell you what job to do.


Take the Career Choice Profile Test


If you’re ready to get started with changing your job or career, take our FREE Career Choice Profile Test and begin clarifying which careers are likely to be right for you. Not only will it shift your mind-set, it will also get you thinking about what you want from your career so you can make positive work and life changes.



Do you want to find out what a Career Coach could do for your Career?


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