In this day and age, when Google answers all, why should you hire a coach to help you figure out your next career move? It’s all here online. You don’t need a live person anymore, right?
And even if you want a coach, you feel like you shouldn’t need one. This is America, darn it. We do things for ourselves. We’re independent, free spirits.
Career coaches aren’t for everyone, and I’m not here to argue that everyone needs to hire one right this instant or they’re doomed. But coaches can save you time and heartache if you hire them for the right reasons, especially when you’re considering changing your career. Career coaches can give you:
Someone in Your Corner
There’s a certain kind of loneliness you experience when you have a problem no one else understands. You may have great friends and family, a loving spouse, but if they don’t quite get it, it’s awful. A good coach will share your problem with you and put it in context.
I often can tell you that you’re not the only one. I can say, “I’ve had many clients who’ve faced this, and here’s what many of them did.” This is especially important when everyone is quick to post their success stories on social media, but few are talking about failures or decisions they’ve regretted and what they’ve done to turn around their lives.
Facts You Can Trust
You’re swimming in online articles, but you’re not sure if this or that source is reliable. It’s wise to doubt Google. A good career coach can guide you to reliable information, assessments that are proven to work, and move you through a process that has been tested. Certifications matter, here.
I’m biased because I’m a Global Career Development Facilitator. My training included a master’s degree in counseling and a course that showed me the right tools to pass along to my clients. But there are other wonderful certifications out there. What’s important is that your coach values reliable data. This is my favorite source for starting to explore careers. I also help clients find relevant industry associations, industry magazines, LinkedIn groups, articles and other resources.
Help with Organizing Your Thoughts
There’s so much advice online about how to get started with a career change, but I don’t think people have trouble starting. People get stuck in the middle. They get started researching new careers or doing online assessments or talking with people in new industries. Which ones are most important? What’s right for them?
A coach can help you sort out what’s important and remind you of those things under pressure, for example, when you’re tempted by a job offer that’s got a great salary but has none of the other qualities you’ve said you want in a job. They can also help you question beliefs or assumptions that aren’t helping. Maybe you’ve been operating under the assumption that only people with four-year degrees in X get hired for Y. That may not be true, and if you can get beyond that hurdle, maybe that’s the job for you.
An Imperfect, Workable Plan
When faced with a big decision that affects your life, it can be tempting to try to wait until the perfect moment to take action, but that perfect moment will never come. You keep gathering info, or you keep talking with people in the industry, but you never apply for a job or grad school. You’ll do that when you’ve figured out every last detail, right? That’s the responsible thing to do.
Wrong. A coach can help you brainstorm ways to test your ideas, to get in motion in low-risk ways that help you make those bigger moves. They can help you create a workable plan that still has loose ends, sure, but will get you on your way. And they’ll help you tie up those loose ends along the way. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
A coach listens, and you get to talk. That seems pretty basic, pretty unremarkable, right? But think about your past week. When have you had a conversation with someone who listened to you completely, didn’t interrupt, didn’t look at their phone or text someone back, didn’t judge you, either openly with a comment or with a look that gave away what they were thinking? A good coach listens without judging you and then asks good questions.
Sometimes space is all you need to figure things out. I once had a client who was doing all the career change things: researching, talking to people in the careers he was considering, taking assessments, and he was making no progress. Finally, I asked offhand where he was doing his research, and he shared that he did it somewhere that wasn’t private. Let’s say, for the sake of the story, that it was in his living room on his laptop, and his girlfriend was literally looking over his shoulder and making comments. “You’ll never make enough to live at that,” she’d say casually, not to be mean, but because she was worried.
Sometimes the advantage of the coach is that they don’t care as much as the people in your life do. They aren’t worried. They’ve seen others get out of this mess, and they know you can too. This provides you with an impartial sounding board, and sometimes that’s all it takes to realize what you want. Once that client had some space, he could go back to the people in his life and say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan.” (an imperfect, workable plan). It gave him the confidence to declare what he would do next.
So consider some of these reasons for hiring a coach. And here’s a great list of what a good career professional can do.