What a career coach does (and doesn’t) do

What a career coach does (and doesn’t) do

I recently met with a career coach. Even though I had met her before, I was nervous. I was coming to the end of a contract and I’m not sure where to go next. Is it time for a pre mid-life career change? Should I look for a cushy job that will give me a good work-life balance? What do I really want? It was time to meet my career coach!

What does a career coach do?

Meeting with a good coach is truly inspirational. You might come out of a meeting with a coach feeling pumped and confident. Or you might come out a bit confused, wondering if you got what you wanted. But as you think more about it you will realised that your coach (if they are a good one) has planted some fresh ideas in your mind. You just need to decide what to do with them.

A coach won’t give a lot of straight answers

 At first you might feel concerned that your questions weren’t answered, but you quickly realised that the only unanswered questions were ones that had no answer. A career coach can’t tell you what job will make you happy. But a good one will help you work out what you enjoy about certain roles and give you guidance on how to keep moving in that direction.

A coach will ask more questions than they will answer

When meeting with a coach you should have a few questions prepared, but be ready for a lot of questions back! The purpose of a coach is to help you make your own decisions in a sensibly considered and logical way.  You might say that you want more responsibility but you don’t want to be a manager. A coach might ask why do you want more responsibility? What type of responsibility? Why not managerial responsibility? Would you only consider additional responsibilities in your current work area? And only for a pay rise? Would you consider getting the experience of additional responsibility outside of your organisation? What about in a voluntary capacity?  Get ready for a grilling: coaches are very good at making you realised just how much you HAVEN’T thought of!

A coach will challenge your assumptions

You will plan for this meeting. You will have some questions to ask and you will have an idea of what you want from the meeting and where you think your career is (or should be) heading. Don’t grasp to tightly to those ideas. A coach will question you, pose alternatives and soon you will wonder if your thinking has been off-track. Don’t worry. Any thought that you put into your career is not wasted. A coach will help you identify where your thinking gets stuck and help you widen your perspectives as well as your career options. 

If you’ve met a good coach before you would know all this already! Have you met with a career coach before? How did they help you? How would you prepare next time?

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

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