What Does a Career Coach Do?

You’ve likely heard about career coaches. Perhaps you stumbled across their advice on blogs. Maybe you’ve even gone as far as to consider hiring one, only to stop short when it’s time to send in the fee. This is the case for many professionals who don’t quite realize the added value a trusted advisor can have on their upward mobility, development, and longevity. Career coaches are often misunderstood as an unnecessary expense when the most successful entrepreneurs and executives swear by their services. Here are some underrated benefits that may convince you to give a career coach a chance:

They can help you gain clarity in passion and productivity in business and personal lives.

If you’re already a c-level suite executive, you’ve probably been around the block for at least a decade, if not longer. And though you may still feel interested in what you do day-in and day-out, you also may feel stuck or lost. That’s where a career coach can come in and shift your perspective and energy. As career expert Wendi Weiner explains, whether it feels like you no longer have a passion or you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling about work, hiring an executive coach can make a difference. “It can provide ultimate clarity on how to sync passion with productivity and reduce detachment from work, increase work-life balance, and ultimately understand who they are and what their struggles are,” Weiner explains.

They will hold you accountable.

When you are determined to lose weight, improve your overall health or perhaps, earn a degree, what do you do? Hire a professional. So why not seek the same expertise when you need to be accountable for your career goals? While friends, partners, and mentors can be influential cheerleaders, they are likely to cut you slack when a career coach isn’t as forgiving. If you’re serious about finding a new job, landing that promotion, or advancing your career, you’ll need to apply time and effort. That being said, it can be hard to prioritize it when you also have a full-time job, a family, and other responsibilities. Having regular check-ins with a career coach may be the push you need to tackle these items and realize your goals faster.

They can make you a superstar in an interview.

The higher you rise in your field, the harder the competition becomes. And that impressive, unique resume with stellar recommendations only goes so far, considering everyone else is your match. What can make or break a job offer, though, is an interview that positively impresses the hiring team. In fact, industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and workplace expert Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., defines a career coach as a secret weapon in this area of job searching. Besides having a thorough understanding of your industry and the leaders within, a career coach can also give you specific guidance on responding to certain interview questions and how to frame your experiences most effectively. Why does it matter? When you know what to wear, what to say, and how to say it so that you are more likely to get the job.

They challenge you to stop coasting — and begin thriving.

In the definition of ‘making it,’ executives have pretty much checked that box off. After all, to lead a team — or multiple teams — takes years of experience, effort, and challenges. That said, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know everything about everything, and thus, don’t need to invest in our professional future. As career expert Michael Dermer explains, executives are sometimes comfortable with the status quo and don’t push themselves to greater heights. Nor do people who work for them. “How many times would a subordinate say to an executive, ‘think outside the box.’ Well, career coaches can play this role,” he continues. “They can come in from the outside and challenge executives to explore new learnings, honor new perspectives and further develop their capabilities.”

They will provide the feedback you need to hear.

The emphasis here is on need, not necessarily want. Top executives are used to being praised for their performance but aren’t always given candid, helpful criticism that would make them that much better. A career coach does just that, Augustine explains, by being truthful and unbiased with feedback. “A coach can help you understand the mistakes you’re making during the interview process that are possibly sabotaging your candidacy. On other occasions, a career coach may be hired by an employer when a high-potential employee is struggling with a soft skill that is prohibitive for a promotion,” she continues. “The feedback can be hard to swallow, but it’s better to work with your coach now to rectify the situation, rather than letting it undermine your job search or your career advancement.”

Adapted from Ladders.com article published in Dec. 2019.


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