Tips for Choosing a Career Coach or Counselor
Deciding which career path to take isn’t always easy. Like most people, you may have an idea of what you want to achieve but have no roadmap. Whether you are starting or experiencing a career crisis you need help.
According to The Conference Board, only 54% of workers in the U.S reported job satisfaction in 2019.
There are many causes for low job satisfaction, however, one of the key causes is a poor fit between the worker and the job. Most people report feeling unsatisfied at work due to:
- Lack of meaningful work
- Lack of Interest in the work they do
- Inadequate opportunities for career growth. Their careers have stalled.
Whether you are straight out of college or looking for a career change, it’s important to match your skills, ambition, and expectations to the right career. So how do you do this?
If you have ever felt stuck or uncertain when thinking of the next step in your career then you should consider getting a Career Coach or Counselor.
WHO IS A CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR?
Career Coaches or Counselors are trained professionals who help you achieve your career goals successfully.
You should note that the Career Coach or Counselor profession is not regulated. It’s easy for anyone to claim that they are a career coach or counselor. Aside from their degrees most counselors are certified by professional bodies such as:
- ACP International: The Association of Career Professionals International
- ICC International: The Institute of Career Certification International
- ICF: The International Coach Federation
- NBCC: The National Board of Certified Counselors
- NCDA: The National Career Development Association
WHAT SERVICES DOES A CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR OFFER?
In addition to helping you clean up your resume career counselors:
- Help you explore career options that fit your career values and skills. Sometimes we feel a pull towards a certain career path, unfortunately, once we are on it proves anticlimactic. With the help of a career counselor, you can explore what different careers have to offer in the long term and determine if that aligns with your expectations.
- Offer guidance when applying for professional development programs. These include higher education, professional certifications, and professional associations.
- Help you identify any obstacles that are in the way of your career plans and goals. It’s often very easy to convince ourselves that we are doing the best we can. Or that outside forces are responsible for our inability to move up the career ladder. However, we could have underlying issues that we can’t pinpoint without help.
- Use assessment exercises that help identify your strengths and weaknesses. The exercises may include personality tests, interviews, and interest inventories.
- Help you revamp your resume. They have multiple resume templates that will give you an edge. Your resume is your first step towards getting your dream job. At the very least it should be able to get you an interview.
- Help you set clear career goals using different goal-setting metrics.
- Improve your interview skills.
- Provide counseling to help you ease into retirement. Leaving work after decades of a long career isn’t easy. You may feel a sense of loss or emptiness. However, with the right help, you can take steps to make the most out of your remaining career years.
CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR SKILLS.
To achieve the above a career counselor should be able to:
- Put you at ease and build trust to facilitate honest communication.
- Have great listening skills
- Be good at interviewing clients in order to extract information.
- Be an analytical thinker. This will help them make connections between different aspects of your life and how they affect your career.
- Good at researching. They need to have up to date information to issues relating to their client.
- Good at communication. They need to communicate clearly with their clients, otherwise, they won’t be very helpful.
HOW DO YOU FIND A CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR?
There are a large number of professionals in the Career Coach or Counselor field.
This makes it hard for most people to choose from. Unfortunately, most of them are not honest about their abilities.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take as you begin your search.
- Ask your family and friends for recommendations.
- Look up listed counselors in Check with professional associations. Most associations keep a list of counselors registered with them. it’s easy to find one within your area. The National Board of Certified Counselors has a “counselor find” option that may be of help.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CAREER COACH OR COUNSELOR
1. Are they a great fit?
A relationship between a career counselor/coach and a client is very important. Once the two of you establish rapport it becomes easy to open up. As earlier mentioned, your counselor should be able to make you feel at ease. They should come off as trustworthy and non-judgmental.
You can start by creating a short list of traits you would like in a counselor. if a counselor does not meet the required traits, they don’t cut. Consider the type of reinforcement that works on you. Do you respond better to tough love or kind and warm encouragement?
Having a good relationship with your counselor makes you more receptive to their style. As you can imagine having a cold and judgmental counselor can put you on edge. It’s easy to hide aspects of your personality to protect yourself from their cold hard stare.
A good relationship allows both parties to be interactive and responsive. Check to see if your coach is engaging, collaborative, helpful.
A great way to vet different career counselors before meeting them is by going through their websites. Most coaches have a collection of helpful articles, success stories, and resources. As you go through this material you can tell whether or not you would like to work with them.
Not all career coaches are right for every client. Once you find your perfect fit everything else will follow. However, it’s not uncommon for you to realize that your counselor is not a great fit a few weeks into your sessions. In such an instance your career counselor is allowed to give you a referral.
2. How much do they charge?
Getting your career counseling started is a big commitment. It requires your time, energy, and finances. Most career counselors charge between $75 and $300. Before you begin your search for the perfect helper, create a budget. This will help you eliminate any counselors whose rates are too high.
Most counselors charge per hour; however, some have a monthly fee that covers all the sessions. Others charge per task. This means that you only pay for a single task such as reworking your LinkedIn profile or revamping your Resume.
There is a wide range of payment options in this field. Always choose the one that makes it easy for you to plan your budget. You could start by giving preference to those who charge per hour. Before settling on one career coach make sure that they are clear on what services you will receive and at what price.
The sessions might seem expensive but try to look at the bright side. Once you get your career going you stand to earn more money and enjoy your job.
3. Can they solve your specific problem?
There are multiple reasons for you to seek out the help of a career counselor. Career counseling isn’t a “one solution that fits all” situation. Each problem needs a different solution. The first step should be determining what career issues you are experiencing. Once identified it becomes a lot easier to determine what kind of counselor you need.
Career counselors and coaches come from diverse backgrounds. Some career counselors work with those preparing for semi-retirement. Others have experience helping recent college graduates.
Others help individuals transition from corporate jobs to non-profit organizations or businesses. Other councilors teach individuals how to maneuver through corporate office politics.
There are even more specialized counselors who focus their work on people with Attention deficit disorder (ADD).
4. Can they work with other aspects of your career that affect your professional life?
Most people are held back from achieving happiness, success, and fulfillment in their careers by personal issues. Most of the time your emotions and personality affect your ability to thrive at work.
This may manifest itself in your lack of confidence or esteem, and even your beliefs. Certain aspects of our human experience such as trauma or childhood pain can prevent us from achieving success.
Your career coach or counselor should be able to understand how your past influences your career. Is your inability to set boundaries or communicate effectively linked to something that happened in the past? What is causing your lack of motivation? Is it possible to modify your behavior in order to get the desired results?
In some cases, your counselor or coach can recommend therapy to help you deal with any deep-seated issues such as depression. It is possible to take up therapy and career counseling concurrently.
5. Interview the coaches before committing to one.
Career counselors or coaches are aware that you need to pick the best fit for your needs. Most coaches offer a free introductory session for this purpose.
As mentioned earlier you can look into a career counselor before meeting them. Browse through their websites, and blogs then come up with a list of questions to ask during the initial meeting.
These will help you get better acquainted. Below is a list of questions you can ask.
- How can you describe your style?
- How will your process work in my case?
- What can I expect from our sessions?
- What do you require of me during our sessions?
- Do you have any success stories similar to my current issue?
These will help you get a feel of what your future interaction will be like. After the meeting thank the counselor and
6. What are your objectives?
Getting counseling is a step in the right direction. However, to be successful you need clear objectives. Ask yourself:
- Where do I want my career to go?
- What kind of help do I need?
A career coach helps you identify the type of changes you need to make to your professional journey. They can help create a strategy to help you achieve this. However, your experience will be richer if you can articulate your needs are.
Once you have a strategy, your career coach will help you stay on track. They will help you:
- Identify job opportunities that align with your goals.
- Focus on your objectives.
- Identify and self-sabotage behavior.
- Strengthen your resilience
- Keep you motivated.
- Identify improvements needed in your skillset.
If you are already working in your desired field then your focus is on achieving growth within your organization.
Before your sessions begin you can come up with a career map.
This will highlight the steps you need to take to move from your entry-level position to your goal. If you are unable to make, you’re your counselor can assist you.
7. Are they part of a professional body?
There are thousands of career counselors. unfortunately, not all of them are qualified to help you on a journey. To make your search fruitful consider selecting a career counselor or coach who is registered with a reputable association.
Since this field is unregulated you need to take adequate steps when selecting a counselor/coach.
You can start by looking into the National Career Development Association (NCDA). This association has a list of career counselors and coaches who display competency in counseling and assessment. They also have a “counselor find” option that allows you to identify any counselors or coaches within your area.
The NCDA recognizes members who have achieved professional levels such as a Master’s degree in counseling or a related field. They also have a list of counselors who hold Local licenses from state boards.
Consider checking if the counselor is listed in the Better Business Bureau. This website allows consumers to file complaints against service providers for unethical practices.
8. Avoid overpromising counselors or coaches.
When looking for a career counselor or coach avoid anyone who promises you a high-paying job or a quick recipe for success.
It’s a common misconception that career coaches or counselors can get you a job. This is not part of their job description. Only recruiters, headhunters, and job placement organizations do this. They can leverage their networks to help you find a job.
A career coach can be considered a mentor. They help you identify steps that you can take to land a job. You can still enlist their help even after you have gotten your dream job. After all, your career growth strategy is long-term.
9. Are they able to look beyond your career?
Life is not just about working. It’s very negligent of you to focus on just one aspect of your entire existence. A growing number of individuals who seek out career counseling end up feeling misunderstood and angry. Finding your dream job is just the beginning of your career journey.
Things such as Company culture, toxic bosses, sexual harassment, and discrimination can leave you feeling short-changed.
A great career counselor can see past your job. After all, success isn’t just determined by money. They can align your career goals with other life goals.
This allows you to create a balance to allow you to live a joyful and successful life. A good coach can identify:
- Your intentions. What do you want to achieve by the end of your life?
- What you are not willing to compromise on. This speaks to your integrity as a person and should align with the culture of your workplace. If it doesn’t then your day to day actions may cause you a lot of guilt and unfulfillment.
- Your purpose in life. What validates your existence? A good career coach will help you explore your purpose. If you believe that your life’s purpose is to help the needy then your career goals should be tied to this. It will be very unfulfilling if you become the president of a company that makes a profit but has little Social value.
- Additional financial, social, and environmental needs. If you want to transition to business after retirement your coach should identify what you need to make your retirement strategy effective.
- The outcome you want to achieve. Your career has an impact on others as well as yourself. Your career counselor or coach should identify initiatives and projects that are centered around what you want to put in the world. Your skillset could be suited to a work environment that does not mirror your objectives.
A Career Coach or Counselor who identifies your other needs will help you achieve more than career success. They give you a wholesome life.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF COACHING
As with every relationship, communication is very important between a career counselor and the client. You should strive to be honest about any issues you think you are facing. This gives rise to solution-based discussions.
Be open about issues in your personal life that have a direct impact on your career. Remember that the sooner you communicate any problems, reservations, and hardships, the sooner you can get a solution.
Your coach is human too so they may speak or act in a way that may make you uncomfortable. Speaking out about such matters also gives your coach a chance to change. Be kind when you communicate your displeasure.
2. Be open to criticism
Your career coach holds you accountable. They will point out issues in your performance that are affecting your growth. Even though they constantly motivate you they are allowed to point out your shortcomings.
By highlighting your weak spots, they do not mean to discourage you, but offer you an opportunity to make the relevant changes.
3. Prepare for each session
Most sessions last for an hour, so it’s in your best interest to maximize your time. Organize your thoughts and make detailed notes of anything you would like to focus on. If you need to work on your resume, make sure to pick out any relevant information.
If your career coach is up to it, you can send them regular updates on your progress. This gives your career counselor a chance to reflect on your progress before you meet. Once you begin your conversation you can focus on the pertinent issues.
4. Manager expectations
When you begin your career counseling, do not expect a job to land on your lap immediately. If you do you are very likely to be disappointed. Getting your career on track will not happen in a day. It requires tremendous sacrifice and work.
Seeing a career counselor regularly will help you put together an adequate strategy. They act as a guide and mentor. That the bulk of the work still lies in your hands. If you want to land your dream job then you have to work for it.
Make an effort to reevaluate your progress. You can then share your thoughts with your coach so that they can assist you.
However, make sure that your expectations are realistic. Do not give yourself huge goals and narrow timelines. If you do not achieve your goals when the time runs out you are likely to become very discouraged and lose your focus.
It is not easy to navigate the professional world by yourself. By getting a career counselor, you will ease the burden and allow yourself to grow. They can prevent you from wasting time trying to figure things out.
Their years of practice and accumulated knowledge will come in handy when you need to make tough decisions during a transition.
When you begin your career counseling always remember that your decision to work with a counselor is revocable.
You can choose to move on once you outgrow the Counselor’s Style. Or if you feel that it is not working out.
Stay in touch with any changes in your goal or life in order to make the right adjustments.
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