Do You Need a Career Coach?
I am often surprised by how few people really understand how a career coach actually helps her clients. Career coaching has actually existed as a service (then called career counseling) in the United States since 1890 when placement services were offered to people during the industrial era. Around 1920, public schools began offering educational guidance which moved to training counselors to work with college students in 1940. In 1960 career counselors started focusing on helping workers find meaning in their lives and in 1980 when the U.S. began changing from the industrial era to the technological age, career counselors focused on teaching the skills necessary to make this shift. Finally in 1990, changes in technology and demographics increased the popularity of career coaching for the general population. With the recent recession, more and more people are hiring career coaches because they have lost their jobs or have gone through a life altering situation such as surviving cancer.
It’s probably easiest to start by listing the few things that a career coach does not do for her clients. She does not find you a job. This means that she does not get on the phone and make calls for you to find job openings and she usually cannot influence a hiring manager to interview you. In other words, she does not perform the functions of a recruiter or headhunter.
However, there are so many things that a career coach can do to help you in your job search or if need be, change careers.
She can help you to bolster or rebuild your confidence. If you have been out of work for a while, this may cause you to feel insecure about your abilities and the value that you can bring to a new employer. Once your career coach learns about you and your work history and achievements, she can remind you of these accomplishments and help you to articulate the value you bring to an employer on paper and in an interview.
Being out of work usually changes your life priorities, including deciding what kind of work you choose to do moving forward. A career coach can help you with your overall career strategy as well as your job search planning. Hiring a professional to help you look at the big picture is very useful. It’s also likely that you haven’t looked for a job in a long time and many aspects of job search have changed since then such as using LinkedIn or the way you write your resume.
A career coach can advise you on some of the most common issues job seekers face such as how to handle questions about time gaps on your resume.
Networking with people is the number one method for uncovering job opportunities yet it can be an awkward skill to learn. A career coach can teach you the elements of effective networking including how to meet new people and what to say to them, networking etiquette and different ways to cultivate relationships and follow-through to reap results. Your coach can share her contacts with you as well.
Interviewing for a job can be nerve wracking and a skilled career coach can actually conduct a mock interview with you while helping you to come up with great responses to tough interview questions such as, “Tell me about yourself” or “What would your last manager say your biggest weaknesses are?”
As you can see the list of topics that a career coach can give you advice about is endless. Equally as important, the support you receive and objective sounding board that you have with a career coach is invaluable.