If you’re like the average American, you’ll change careers at least once during your lifetime., And whether that change is a new position at your current company, an unfamiliar role in your industry, or a completely different professional path, it’s always beneficial to have someone supporting you through the process.
A career transition coach offers advice and encouragement as you move from one role to another. Their guidance benefits you from the moment you decide to look for a new job until you feel settled in the position.
But what is a career transition coach, and how can they make your job hunt easier? Let’s take a closer look at this particular branch of career coaching.
What does a career coach do?
Working with a career coach is a bit like hiring your own personal branding team. The coach assesses your professional history, working style, and other qualities to uncover your best attributes. Then, they teach you how to highlight those attributes to give you a competitive edge over other job seekers.
Career coaches can also help you learn and refine vital skills like public speaking, collaboration, and time management. These areas of personal development are critical for success in the business world — and also valuable skills for nearly every facet of life. Even professionals who aren’t looking to climb the corporate ladder can benefit from working with a coach.
It’s vital to understand that coaching is a non-directive experience, which means coaches don’t tell you what to do and when to do it. Instead, they offer you a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on as you chart your own career path.
If you want to earn a promotion from your current employer or land a new role within your industry, a career transition coach can assist you with updating your resume and preparing for interviews. If you’d rather explore an entirely new career, a great coach can help you determine which skills and experiences from your current job best illustrate your potential in the new role.
How can a career transition coach help you?
Imagine you’re among the 56% of Americans looking for a new job this year. You know the market is full of qualified candidates, so you hire a job and career transition coach to support you in your search. Your coach will help you land that new position with the following steps:
1. Develop an action plan
Just as a wellness coach starts by learning their client’s health goals, your career coaching starts with a discussion about your dream job. Your coach needs to know what type of work you’re looking for so they can empower you to create an effective plan of action. During this initial step, you and your coach discuss your long-term and short-term professional goals, as well as realistic steps you can take to make them a reality.
2. Determine your strengths and weaknesses
Once your coach knows where you want to take your career, they can help you find ways to make it happen. Your coach might give you an assessment test to figure out what you’re good at or simply discuss your work achievements and history to find key skills that apply to your dream job. Coaches also assess your weaknesses — whether that’s navigating interviews, writing cover letters, or accountability — and help you build up those skills before you begin your search.
3. Advise the job hunt
At this point in your job transition process, your coach understands where you want to go, how you want to get there, and the skills you have to make it happen. Now, it’s time to put your plan into action. Depending on your unique needs, your coach could take any number of steps: They may help you update your resume or LinkedIn profile, share job search strategies and resources, or use executive coaching techniques to boost your leadership skills.
4. Prepare for interviews
With your coach’s help, you land an interview with a company that seems perfect for you. A career coach then helps you prepare for the interview process by conducting mock interviews, giving tips to help manage anxiety, and offering any other support you may need.
5. Motivate you
Ultimately, a career transition coach aims to motivate you as you take on the challenge of finding a new job. Looking for work can be overwhelming, but having a coach in your corner can help stave off job search depression and keep you moving forward. Career coaches are also invested in your career goals, so they can encourage you to prioritize landing a job that makes you happy.
How to choose a career coach
There are over 11 thousand career coaches in the United States alone, each with their own methods, personalities, and expertise. When you’re looking for a coach to guide your next career move, finding a coach that meets your needs is essential.
Here are a few guidelines to help you narrow your search:
1. Identify your goals
If you want to improve your leadership skills to score a promotion, you need a career coach who specializes in career development and building leadership characteristics. If you hope to explore a new career, your coach should have experience with job training programs, resume building, and interview prep. Take time to consider your professional goals and use those to find the career coach who’s best equipped to help you realize them.
2. Look for coaches near you (or online)
When you start looking for a career coach, your first instinct might be to search for coaches in your local area. There are definite benefits to meeting with a coach face-to-face: you might build a better rapport with your coach in person, and you might be more comfortable doing mock interviews or other coaching exercises when your coach is physically there to support you.
However, keep in mind that video conference tools have made virtual coaching a viable option for many people. You can just as easily discuss coaching topics and get the support you need from a coach across the country.
Plus, virtual coaches offer unparalleled access and flexibility. Online, you aren’t limited to the coaches in your local area — meaning you have more available options to find a compatible professional. And many digital coaches manage clients through an easy-to-use coaching platform that grants you constant access to session notes and assignments.
3. Check backgrounds
The coaching industry is largely unregulated, so do some extra homework before hiring anyone.
First, look for coaches who have credentials, like a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). A certified coach is more likely to have the education and experience necessary to provide an effective coaching program.
Next, ask the coaches that interest you about their work experience. If possible, talk with previous clients the coaches consider “success stories” and see how they felt about the coaching process and how it impacted their career journey. Previous clients are a great indication of how each coach will approach your career plan.
4. Do an initial consultation
When someone learns how to become a career transition coach, they develop unique skills and processes. Some coaches may be no-nonsense, tough-love types while others are more nurturing.
Of course, not every coaching style resonates with every client, so most coaches offer you a short consultation to let you test the waters with them. Use these initial coaching sessions to assess how you feel about the coach and their style, and only move forward with the coach you think will work best with you.
5. Get a clear price point
Career transition coaching should help you land more lucrative job offers — but that doesn’t mean it should break the bank first. Talk to the coach you want to hire about their career coaching costs and make sure you can reasonably afford their desired rate.
When should you hire a career transition coach?
Anyone looking to improve their working life can benefit from a career coach. But there are certain times in your career journey when coaching can really help you gain a competitive edge. Here are some examples:
You just finished college: Your college education is extremely valuable for your career prospects, but coaches offer job-seeking advice you didn’t learn in the classroom. A career transition coach can help you fine-tune your cover letter, highlight your academic honors and achievements to emphasize the value you’d bring to a company, and support you as you go on your first job interviews in the “real world.”
You’re climbing the ladder: If you’ve been on the same career path for a while and you’re looking to take things to the next level, you should consider a senior career transition coach. These coaches empower you to harness your years of experience and use them to further your career by developing your leadership skills, communication, and other vital qualities.
You’re going through a career change: Career coaches are very helpful during drastic career shifts. Your coach supports you as navigate an unfamiliar industry, land the perfect job, and take a brave step toward something brand new.
Take the leap
If you find yourself unfulfilled at work, a career transition coach can reinvigorate you to land that perfect job. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, the position you hold, or how much experience you have — you can benefit from coaching at any stage in your professional development.
Next time you find yourself wistfully wondering what life would be like if you had a different career, reach out to a coach and make those daydreams a reality.