Career coaching programs have become very popular and yet there is a bit of mystery involved because of the number of programs that are available, and the quality of these programs may be difficult to assess. In addition, the cost of a program can vary significantly, along with the background and experience of the coach. If you are going to make an investment of this nature then you need to be certain the program has an ability to meet your needs and more importantly, you need to be fully informed and aware of the factors that make a good coach and the qualities that are indicative of a meaningful program. Finding a coach is easy; the challenge is finding the right one – and a program that is a good fit for you.
When Is a Career Coach Needed?
One of the first reasons that a person considers a career coaching program is when they feel stuck or uncertain about their career. It is not uncommon to first have a discussion with colleagues, friends, or family; however, for many they do not receive adequate advice or they still remain unclear about their job or career. Then a search for answers begins and it may involve an internet search or perhaps a search for resources about career development. Looking for answers can be a frustrating process and if that is the case it will only add to the anxiety and uncertainty that the person is already feeling. If you understand what to look for as you search for a coach or mentor you will find the search is much easier to manage.
It is important to note that there are misconceptions about what a career coach can or should do and that is the first point of clarity needed. A coach is not a licensed therapist and they will not cure or resolve medical issues or psychological conditions, which can include depression, grief, or suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing any of those issues or conditions then professional treatment is required. In addition, a career coach is not going to discuss relationship matters or health and wellness concerns unless there is a specific need to do so, one that is relevant to your career needs.
What Can a Coach Do for You?
There are specific areas that a coach can assist you with and it includes uncovering belief systems, developing motivation necessary to change, identifying areas of development, creating productive habits, examining your dreams, establishing goals, and they can also provide you with strategies, tools, and resources. A coach can help you clarify your feelings of uncertainty, relieve your frustration, and develop a focus on specific plans so that you feel a sense of renewal – provided that you are willing to work with your coach. One of the most important functions that a coach can perform is asking questions that help prompt you to discover your potential and capacity for change and growth. What a coach should not do is to make promises or guarantees about your career or finding a job as their role is to provide guidance.
What Makes a Good Career Coach?
There is no guarantee that when you hire a coach you are working with someone who has the experience necessary to produce the results you are looking for or need. There is career coach certification programs and academic programs with coaching and counseling specializations, so that is one clue that provides an indicator of the background a coach has and the knowledge they possess. For example, I have a doctorate degree in the field of adult education and my experience also provides an indicator of my ability to coach clients. I have been an educator, mentor, teacher, and coach for a majority of my career, and I have an ability to empathize, listen, and help clients focus on finding solutions to address their developmental needs. I have worked with educators, students, and clients throughout my career. When you contact a coach ask about their experience with this type of work and you should have a better perspective of their ability to help you.
What Makes a Meaningful Program?
When you sign up for a program it should involve more than a coach listening to you and then dictating what you should do with your career. Coaching is a process of discovery where the coach listens to the client, ascertains their needs, and helps them find ways to make changes and be directly involved in and accountable for their self-development. It is expected that you will be fully invested in the process and there is also an expectation that you will complete any materials that have been assigned to you. In other words, what makes a program meaningful includes engaging and relevant materials and resources provided by your coach, along with your direct involvement in completing them. To provide you with an example of a meaningful program, here is an outline of a new program I’ve recently developed:
Week One: This begins a two-week discovery process. We assess your values and priorities, talk about your needs, and discuss your belief system.
Week Two: We continue the journey of self-discovery and discuss topics that include integrity and past career experiences.
Week Three: This marks the midpoint of the program and now we begin to talk about the importance of a calling, dreams, passion, and life purpose.
Week Four: This is the design phase and the focus is on taking ideas and dreams and making it a reality through concrete plans.
Week Five: This is the destiny phase and we talk about visualizing an ideal career and creating a new story for your life.
Week Six: In this last and final phase of the program we talk about topics that are designed to support your ongoing progress, from time management to productive habits.
A career coaching program is an investment of time for both you and your coach. To determine if this is a good fit you need to have time to talk to a prospective coach without having to first make a commitment. As an example, I offer a no-cost, no-obligation session to discuss the program, your needs, and the expectations of the program. Not only is there a time factor for you to consider, you also need to be open to new ideas and willing to try new strategies, techniques, and strategies. Your coach can serve as a partner in a journey that explores your interests, goals, dreams, and fears. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding process if you have chosen an experienced coach and found a program that addresses your specific needs.