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Career coaching: Do you need it?

Published June 14, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Whether you’re employed and looking to make a shift or a job seeker on the hunt for a position, you may be considering working with a career coach to help you advance your career, discover hidden skills, and develop your personal brand, among many other reasons.

    Unlike mentors, who may offer advice based on their experience, career coaches may help you create and execute goals, such as exploring career interests or applying to specific jobs.

    Still, hiring a career coach isn’t suitable for everyone. And there’s the expense of hiring a career coach to consider, too.

    So, how do you know if a career coach is right for you? And if you feel like it is, where do you find one? In this article, we'll break down the basics of career coaches so you can begin to decide if hiring one is the right choice for your situation.

    What’s a career coach?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career coach is someone who develops plans with customized goals to improve their clients’ careers. On a basic level, this often means helping their clients figure out what they want their careers to be and then how to advance in their careers.

    Career coaches may motivate their clients to remain on track with their career goals and may provide helpful resources such as career assessments and resume edits during their work with clients.

    Those working in this field may assist people in various stages of their careers, from students and recent graduates to experienced professionals seeking advancement or a career change.

    What services do career coaches provide?

    Career coaches offer a range of services. A sampling of these services includes:

    • Resume and cover letter editing
    • Help diversifying skill sets
    • Interview preparation
    • Career planning help and accountability
    • Executive presence training
    • Mental health services

    Not all career coaches are going to offer every service, and they often have very different styles when it comes to working with clients. Because of this, if you’re looking for a career coach to work with, you may want to compare coaches and the services they provide.

    How do I know if I need a career coach?

    Having a career coach is not a requirement for a successful career, but it may help — particularly if you’re facing certain obstacles or need help making an informed decision in your career.

    Here are some reasons that someone may seek out a career coach:

    • To seek help with finding a job
    • For support if struggling with work-life balance
    • To find accountability with career goals
    • To get help with career stagnancy
    • To get help changing careers
    • To get help finding a career path
    • To get help with your resume
    • To get help interviewing for jobs
    • To deal with specific obstacles within a job
    • To help cope with job burnout
    • For help with re-entry into the workforce

    Does working with a career coach help?

    While working with a coach may not be for everybody, it may be effective for others. If you ultimately want to hire a career coach, it may be helpful to define what success looks like for you ahead of working with a coach, so you’ll be prepared to measure if it’s useful for you.

    For instance, you may define a successful career coaching experience as one where you gain more confidence in job interviews, or you may define success as finding a job within six months of working with a coach.

    What success looks like for you will be very personal, and you’ll have to define it for yourself.

    How do you find a career coach?

    There are many ways to find a career coach. For instance, you can contact your network to ask for leads. You can post on social media platforms that you’re looking for a career coach. You can even look for career coaches via an online search.

    Here are some options to consider if you’re looking for a career coach:

    • Reach out to accredited coaching organizations for leads
    • Search for career coaches on professional social media platforms
    • Look for career coaches online
    • Reach out to mentors, friends, and colleagues for recommendations
    • Check with your school or university’s career center for recommendations (even if you’ve graduated)
    • Search for career coaches on social media
    • Read articles about career development that may include career coach suggestions

    As you research potential career coaches, look for things like:

    • Online reviews of the coaches you’re considering
    • The coaches’ training, certifications, and experience
    • If coaches offer free consultations or a first session for free
    • The exact services the career coaches offer
    • The format that the career coaches offer sessions (in-person, virtually, etc.)

    Once you start to narrow down on a few career coaches, consider setting up free consultation calls with each of them if they offer that. This may help you decide if a particular career coach is the right fit for your needs.

    How much does a career coach cost?

    Career coaching fees will differ significantly depending on the coach. Coaches may charge clients in different ways, too. For instance, some may charge an hourly fee, while others will charge clients a monthly retainer fee. It’s also important to be mindful that some coaches may charge additional fees for certain services, including help with resume revisions or creating a portfolio. Coaches may charge differently depending on whether you meet in person or virtually, too.

    Before deciding on a coach, you may want to compare the fees of various coaches to find the best option for your budget and needs and make sure to ask the coaches you’re considering enough questions to ensure you fully understand their fee structures.

    Final thoughts

    If you’re considering hiring a career coach, it’s important to remember that seeking help from a career coach won’t guarantee a job offer, a promotion, or any kind of instant career help. That said, career coaching may help you depending on your situation and your willingness to put in the work.