Designing your career can feel like an incredibly risky business. Having a good career coach by your side makes that challenge much more manageable. Whether you’ve ended up somewhere that feels like a dead end or you’re worried about the options ahead of you, taking the next step in your career is stressful.
Will you be able to handle a new position? What skills are you developing, and which are you neglecting? Which path is most viable, and which has the best financial incentive? A career coach won’t present you with the exact job opportunity you need at the right time, but they will help you answer all these questions, and more, that can help you create a roadmap for your future path.
Why Each of Us Needs a Career Coach
A career coach is helpful for someone looking to make a major change in field, position or goal. This person will discuss with you your personal life goals outside of your career, and then discuss with you which careers are compatible with those goals, and which will require compromise. They will evaluate your personality and skills in order to determine which position best aligns with your talents, as well as which will demand things of you that you wouldn’t be able to provide.
Your career coach can help you design a path  and an ultimate map for your future, including identifying what steps you will need to take to get there, what skills you will need to improve, what training or education you should seek and what industry you can consider. And although a career coach won’t hand select jobs to you, they will help you navigate through the job hunting process. Your coach can offer tips for getting through interviews, a keen eye to go over your cover letter, resume and applications, and advice on where to hunt for good positions.
How Having a Coach Can Fast-Track Your Career Success
Making a major career change, whether it’s changing the role you take on or the industry you work in, can feel like an impossible struggle. Outside of college, you rarely get an easy opportunity to prepare yourself for entering an industry, which makes a mid-life change feel overwhelming. This is where a good career coach comes in. He can help you figure out how to make that transition between positions or industries, including learning what skills you can put forward, what you can do to improve your qualifications and where you can enter in the industry to begin your new path.
A career coach will not do your job search for you, will not personally network you into an industry and will not give you a magical leg up. If you aren’t trying to make a major career change, you likely don’t need their services – your own knowledge of the industry or position should be comparable to theirs, or a quick Google search about people in your field should answer your question.
How to Find a Career Coach Who Caters to Your Need
Once you’ve decided you want to make a change and begin the hunt  for a career coach, you must be on alert for scammers. Plenty of people are trying to sell you promises they can’t keep. Avoid career coaches who seem to have a plan for you before you tell them about yourself, as well as coaches who have no references to give.
Try networking around for a career coach among friends and associates, searching for recommendations and previous experiences. Since there are no specific qualifications to make someone a career coach, it is important that you know someone’s reputation in order to consider them as a coach. Don’t call up the first person you find on Google – look for recommendations, reviews, honest opinions and feedback from your industry, community or connections. Look for news about your coach, their presence on social media and on the internet in general
Your coach’s personality will play a major factor in how comfortable you are with them, so feel free to request an informal conversation or interview before committing to anyone, but a career coach’s time is valuable – payments can run up to $300 per hour – so most will likely not give you too much free time to talk about yourself before you’ll have to start paying.
Don’t expect face to face meetings with your coach – many prefer internet or phone conversations nowadays. This gives you more freedom, however, to find a coach that fits well with you and understands your goals. Finally, don’t expect the process of working with your coach to be quick. You shouldn’t expect your coach to place you in a new career in a few weeks – the average relationship lasts six months to a year. This is about redesigning your career. It takes time.