“Career coaching is a great way to get personal help with establishing your professional goals, making career decisions, creating and executing plans, and overcoming obstacles that may come in your way,” according to Tracy Brisson, the founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, a career coaching and recruitment consulting company.
But you might be confused about the process and precisely how career coaches can help. Brisson along with two seasoned coaches share all the details below.
What Career Coaches Do (and Don’t Do)
“In essence, you are in the driver’s seat, and I’m riding shotgun with a lapful of maps, travel guides, GPS, and knowledge of the terrain.” That’s how Laura Simms, a career coach for creatives, describes her role as a coach.
“As a certified life coach, I’ve been trained to focus on my client’s present life and their future (rarely their past), intently listening and asking questions, always believing that only they know what’s best for them on the path to achieving their goals,” said Michelle Ward, aka The When I Grow Up Coach. She’s helped almost 200 creative people devise the career they think they can’t have — or discover it to begin with. (Ward has a podcast that clients can listen to on her site.)
According to Simms, career coaching is a broad field. Coaches help with everything from finding the right job to advancing in the field you’re already in to finding a completely new career.
They also might focus on a particular population or demographic, she said. For instance, Simms works with creative people who don’t know what they want to do but know it’s not what they’re currently doing. “It’s a discovery process of investigating their skills, strengths, wants, and needs to find a career that is personally and financially satisfying.”
Career coaching is different from career counseling, Ward said, because counselors typically give clients various tests and conduct assessments. Career coaches also don’t give advice or tell clients what they should do. “As the client, you will do most of the hard work by being reflective and not shying away from difficult subjects and issues in the sessions,” Brisson said.
Who Needs to See a Career Coach
“I am biased, but I think everyone!” Brisson said. “Successful people invest in themselves.” Simms and Ward noted that anyone who’s stuck would benefit from career coaching. “Often your career issues are so close to home and emotionally charged that it’s hard to make the best decisions. Or even know where to start,” Simms said.