What is career coaching and what to expect

By Upskill Coach, On Mar 10th 2020

Do you feel stuck in your career? Unsure about the professional route you’ve chosen? Re-entering the workforce after an employment gap? Career coaching can make the process of clarifying and creating a change easier. 

Oftentimes people are hesitant to spend money on developing their careers when in reality they probably spend more on their mobile phone bill each month. And when you think about the number of hours in your life you spend doing your job, it’s worth investing a little to make the most of those hours.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” 

Now you might be thinking “I have my friends and family for that”. 

The challenge that can present itself when talking to family and friends is that they may have long-held opinions about who you are and what you can do. Their advice can work against you as their perspective is, of course, biased. Their advice may be well-meaning but it can put you off your stride before you’ve even taken the first step.

A career coach provides unbiased, objective feedback tailored to your search and career goals. A professional mentor of this type will get to know your skills and aptitude as an employee and then go from there in helping you achieve your goals.

How can a career coach help?

Career coaching can provide a fresh perspective, as well as access to various tools and techniques designed to help you take stock and achieve your goals.

A career coach is also someone to bounce new, bold ideas off of, such as that creative personal statement you’re unsure of. Hiring a career coach is the beginning of an exciting journey as experimentation will be a major part of your work together.

If you’re curious about working with an expert in the field and want to know more about what to expect, then read on.

What’s the difference between Career Coaching and Career Counselling?

People who seek career help will often see both terms used interchangeably. The reality is, career counsellors are not the same things as career coaches. While the objective of both is to assist you to determine a course for the job of your life, there are distinct differences between them. Before you decide, it’s a good idea to understand the difference between the two professions.

Career Counselling 

Counselling is aimed at helping you think about what you want to do. They can administer personality tests (such as Myers-Briggs), interest inventories, or other evaluations. These tests are designed to assist you to identify prospective professions that may suit you well. 

Career counsellors also tend to look at previous experiences of their clients. They concentrate on barriers that may cause their clients ‘ career difficulties or hamper their pursuit of finding a job. Usually, with a counsellor, there is a wider focus on abilities, talents, interests, or values is what you will discover. They may offer you tips or strategies for getting the job you want, but as a rule, it’s not their main objective.

Career Coaching

Coaching concentrates on the present circumstances of their clients to generate action plans and objectives for career progression. Instead of spending time on what doesn’t work. Coaches look at where their clients want to go and how they can assist them to get where they want to be.

They use a solution-oriented approach to assist and inform any person who needs career advice. In other words, they help people define, redefine, and achieve their professional objectives and other work-related goals.

Most commonly, they use Skype or telephone calls to interact with their clients, which enlarges the audience they can reach out to.

Career coaching will offer you the methodology and mindset you need to create intelligent professional choices and discover your sweet place – i.e. the possibilities you have, what you are great at and what you want from life.

To summarize, both counsellors and coaches can assist individuals in their careers. Whether you’re searching for more insight into what’s getting you stuck or you’re looking for an action plan to accomplish your career objectives, individuals should choose the strategy that suits their style and ideas of professional and personal growth.

When and why you need a coach

Many individuals believe that a career coach is only useful after you have applied for dozens of applications and are in desperate need of a job. While it would be a good time to find a coach, a career coach can help with many other career crossroads.

Career coaches are widely known for helping with a job search or career transition. They are just as valuable for helping clients make the most out of their job and the opportunities at the company he or she works for. 
The right time to get a career coach is when you’re not making the progress you need to make in finding the dream career you truly want

Here are a few of the most common signs that you need a coach; 

1. There is no sign of a promotion or advancement in your career

If you feel like your career has plateaued, it may mean you lack the necessary skills to move up in the company. A recent report shows only four in 10 millennials and three in 10 working Gen Z believe they have the skills and knowledge they’ll need to thrive. Sound familiar?

A coach can help you figure out what you can do in order to advance in your career.

2. You need someone to hold you accountable

Often, we get busy and let our deadlines slip or we lose contact with the inspiration that we had when we first set a goal. A coach will keep those objectives in mind for you and make sure you remain on track to reach them. 

3. The Wheel Keeps Spinning

The wheel represents a condition we can slip into as humans where we lose relationship to context . That means we lose the meaningful reason we’re doing something. You look online, apply for jobs, get a couple of interview callbacks, but don’t land the job. You feel that you are on an ongoing cycle of applying for jobs and being rejected. Quite frankly, you’re surprised when you do receive a rejection email.

With the help of a career coach, they enable you to avoid the endless rounds of “apply now” that so many of us endure. They help to identify what may not be working for you and assist you to get the job you want. You achieve this through a specific set of steps tailored to you. This can be by updating your curriculum vitae, sharpening your interview abilities, or arming yourself with the courage to look at a whole fresh career route that may be more fulfilling.

4. You start settling for second best

The job offers don’t immediately start coming in. Gradually you start applying for any job. Or telling yourself you’re going to take anything just to work or get out of your present unfulfilling job. This is just a waste of time and you’ll regret it within months of taking a position. Discovering your mission cannot be done overnight. It requires time, hard work and perseverance. The issue is usually some sort of fear that prevents you from doing what it takes to go after what you want. 

5. You need an unbiased view

I’m sure friends and family are great at offering advice. However, sometimes they give you the advice they would take, what’s best for them versus what’s best for you. People often think through the filter of their own life experiences or their own needs and wants. If they want financial security themselves, they might suggest you stay at your job even if you don’t like it. It could also be a loved one who worries about how your career change affects them. A career coach can be that objective third party to help you think through all your alternative options and provide assistance and guidance without all the baggage a friend or family member carries with them.

6. You are anxious about the future

You may experience anxiety or nervousness whenever you are uncertain about something. This may be linked to your profession. So, it may be time for a professional to step in and assist you. Coaching enables you to be introspective and understand yourself better. With professional guidance, your objectives and actions will align more with who you are and what you need to be in order to be happy. While career coaching may focus on career advancement or the development of certain abilities, you will also find ways to do more work you that you benefit from and eliminate the habits that make you unhappy at a job.

7. You don’t know what to do next

People know they want to leave their current job but they are so burnt out or discouraged from their work that they can’t even think clearly about what might make them happy in a new job. A great career coach has the tools, resources, and ability to draw out your passions, gifts, and values to help you think through career options that will fulfill you.

No major life change is done alone or in isolation. So don’t look at a job change as something you need to do on your own. If you’re not getting the results you want, then it might be time to reach out to a career coach. They can help you take that step towards finding the dream job you know is out there waiting for you.

As you can see, there are many indications that someone may need a career coach. These are just a few examples. The problems you’re facing may be completely different. But the benefit of having a coach is that they prioritise your current situation and needs. 

How does career coaching work?

Career coaching typically consists of one – on – one meeting between you and your coach. A session usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes each. Most clients meet their professional coach once a week, although some clients meet every two weeks or even once a month.

Your career coach will generally gain information about your career objectives and life aspirations in the first one or two meetings. any coaches will also give you several assessments to help you identify your strengths, values, and the things that give you meaning and purpose. The main objective of these initial sessions is to provide you, the client, with complete clarity about what you want to accomplish and then assist you to create a personalized career plan.

At the end of each session, your coach will ask you to commit to taking action before the next session. Generally speaking, these will consist of particular activities that you and your coach have recognized as the most significant things you can do to get closer to meeting your career goals. Your coach may even challenge you to take action that moves you outside of your comfort zone.


Your coach will hold you responsible from week to week to ensure that you constantly take action. Commitment, accountability, and follow-through are some of the coaching process’s most precious elements. They are a major reason why people who work with a career coach experience advancement and career development.

While a career coach can and will provide you with the tools and resources necessary to make you and your job search successful, they’re not there to do the work for you. Taking what you learn in a session and what you do with it is entirely up to you. For instance, being prepared to set aside devoted time to practice interviewing techniques or crafting an excellent cover letter. As with most things, you’ll get out what you put into the relationship.

Is career coaching worth the cost?

In short, yes. It can offer immense clarity, completely revamp your career, or offer support during a difficult period in your career. There are variations in how much a career coach costs. And when you find the right coach, the long-term advantages it can reap will make you happy you have invested.  After all, we’re talking about your profession. The activity that takes up at least 40 hours of your week. 

The benefits of professional career coaching are innumerable. Professional career coaching can help you to find a new job, improve leadership skills and create a healthier work-life balance.

Your coach will be there to monitor your progress, motivate you, and check in to make sure you meet your career objectives. You are less likely to stray from your objectives and intentions by having accountability. With that support, you will be more likely to remain on your planned career path. You will most probably meet at least one sink-or-swim scenario in your life at one stage in time. You will want someone trustworthy and knowledgeable to assist you to navigate the decision-making process.

Some of the most successful people on the planet have used coaches such as Steve Jobs, Oprah, and Serena Williams. The software magnate Bill Gates put it best when he said: “Everyone needs a coach. We all need people to give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

By working with a coach you’ll get crystal clear on your values and your priorities at work. Together you’ll set goals in each area of your life and map out ways of achieving these. A coach will help you overcome obstacles you may face on your journey. Sign up to a free discovery call on Upskill Coach today and start shaping your future. 

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