When to Hire a Career Coach

One of the hardest things to do in any career, and in life, is to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Getting comfortable and understanding our weaknesses is the best way to face them. Identifying areas for growth and addressing them head-on is a great way to clear your path to success.

When to Hire a Career Coach

In reality, owning up to our weaknesses is a lot easier said than done and sometimes you need a coach to help you face these weaknesses and how to address them. Think about it – athletes do this all the time – they even watch clips of their mistakes repeatedly so they can move on and make sure they don’t make the same mistake again. Could you imagine “watching the tape” of your workday over and over again to see how you could improve (yikes!)?

Think of an influential person you admire…they most likely have some sort of coach, whether it’s an athlete, a CEO with advisors, or a politician with experts surrounding them. Take a look at this long list of successful people who all use coaches. If you have big goals, why wouldn’t you hire a coach to help you get there?

What Does a Career Coach Do?

A career coach is a guide and a partner – they walk alongside you and can hold you accountable. If you’re feeling stuck, confused, and unsure of your next steps, a career coach might be right for you. A coach can help you identify your goals, boost your confidence, and develop an action plan.

You might be an expert in your chosen profession, but a career coach is an expert in their profession: job searching, career planning, resume building, negotiation, interviewing, and more. You might have 12-15 jobs throughout your entire career, so you’re participating in a job search every few years. Each time you have to figure out what’s new in the industry, how best to go about a job search, and update your materials. This takes a lot of your valuable time and energy when you could hire an expert to walk you through the process. Why spend hours on Google looking up contradictory information about building your resume when you could work with an expert who is building resumes every day?

A career coach can also give you a broader perspective of your career situation instead of only being focused on your next paycheck. They can also provide context of what’s happening with other job searchers and recruiters and what’s changed since the last time you put yourself out there.

A coach is not necessarily going to give you advice or tell you what to do. They are going to work with you to come up with solutions to help you reach your goals. Coaching is about developing people. The majority of people know what they want -they just need to give themselves PERMISSION to invest in themselves.

Invest in Yourself

Think about the toughest career transitions you’ve been through – you might have been laid off or fired. Maybe you were trapped in a toxic workplace or stuck with a horrible boss. These situations can hurt your self-esteem and make you feel like you’re not good enough for new opportunities. When you’re stuck in a negative space, this is the moment a career coach is crucial to help give you the confidence to get unstuck. Even something as simple as a resume or cover letter can be difficult – a lot of people are uncomfortable promoting themselves. Working with a third-party career coach can help you get a different perspective and see yourself from a new perspective.

What Can a Career Coach Help You With?

A Career Coach can help you get unstuck. Don’t wait until you’ve been in the job-hunting trenches for six months or longer with no results before you finally decide to hire a career coach. You want to be in a position where you have multiple offers, and you are the one making the decisions.

How do you know when to engage a career coach? Here are a few signs it might be time:

  • You don’t know what you want to do next.
  • You aren’t sure how to position your resume.
  • You aren’t over your last job.
  • You’re interviewing but haven’t landed the job.
  • You’re not moving up in your career.

A career coach can also help you with other transitions in your career. If you haven’t been promoted in years or want to negotiate your salary, a career coach can help you navigate the process and give you the confidence and support to make the ask.

If you’ve been reprimanded at work or are put on a personal improvement plan (PIP) it’s time to call a coach to prepare you for what’s coming and help you make the decision to either stick it out or cut your losses and search. There are so many details in these situations that can be confusing – like should you sign a non-compete if they provide you a severance package? Can you negotiate a severance package? Will you get unemployment? What can the company say about you after you leave? What rights do you have?

Sometimes you find yourself in a toxic situation and you need someone to tell you what is not okay or give you the confidence to stand up for yourself. You might not realize it at the time but there is something else out there for you that you deserve, and you can get it!

How to Choose a Career Coach

When you’ve decided to move forward with a career coach, you should take it seriously and find someone that aligns with your values. Don’t be afraid to interview a few coaches before you narrow it down to one. Here are a few things you can look for in your search:

  • Do they specialize in a specific industry or career level? For example, are you looking for someone to help you at the beginning of your career or mid-career (like me!).
  • Is it the right fit? Look at their website and social media channels, do their philosophies line up with yours?
  • Do they have strong coaching experience and certifications? As for myself, Sheldrake Consulting has been around for seven years and I’m a Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Administrator and Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW).
  • What do their former clients say? They should have strong testimonials and be able to provide you with references.
  • Do they offer individual feedback? Your situation is unique to you, so your coach should be willing to listen to you and help develop an action plan that’s specific to your goals.

How to Choose a Career Coach

My Coaching Approach

I started my company, Sheldrake Consulting because I saw too many women doubting their abilities and underselling their accomplishments. Their resumes read like job descriptions, instead of highlight reels, and their job searching strategies were outdated and inefficient.

As a toxic workplace survivor, I know all too well the toll it can take on you. My career coaching programs are informed by my own career transitions, as well as years of coaching and advising experience. I offer a safe place where you feel heard.

Some of the things that inform my coaching practice include:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certification – The MBTI is a self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing, or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging, or perceiving. One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result, such as “INTJ” or “ESFP.” As a certified administrator, I like to use this as a jumping-off point to see what might resonate best with my clients.
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott – A book, a podcast, a movement – Radical Candor is caring personally while challenging directly – it’s providing guidance and feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific, and sincere. The author Kim Scott was formerly a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. She was also a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google.

Radical Candor

  • My CPRW Resume Writing Certification – This training has taught me how to ask questions and tell your story from the list of bullet points and anecdotes you provide me.
  • Experience – I’m an introvert so I LISTEN (same letters as SILENT) and after years of working with clients I can identify patterns and themes quickly.

So many women hem and haw in deciding to invest in their future. Consider how much you’re losing by not investing in yourself and your career. Coaching is an investment in you and your future. YOU are worthy of the investment.