7 signs you’re ready to hire a career coach — and 3 signs you’re not

If you are at a career crossroads, or have hit a wall, a career coach can help you maximize your potential — but only if you’re willing to put in the work.

7 signs you’re ready to hire a career coach — and 3 signs you’re not
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If you find yourself unmotivated at your job, struggling to find new work, or feeling like your career passions and talents are underutilized, it might be time to consider investing in a career coach.

Whether you’ve hit a crossroads or a brick wall, a career coach can help you determine the best path forward in maximizing your passions and potential. Not only do professional career coaches help you ask the right questions, they provide resources and support that can help you figure out your next steps and hold you accountable for setting and achieving your career goals.

7 signs you should consider hiring a career coach

While some signals are obvious, it’s not always clear when it’s time to seek outside help to advance your career. Here are seven key indicators that a career coach might be a worthwhile investment.

1. You’re experiencing job angst

If you're bored or frustrated with your job, but don't know what other career(s) you could pursue, enlisting a career coach is a valuable idea. Rita Friedman, JCTC, JCDC, CLC, a certified career coach in Philadelphia, says that many of her clients start with a vague sense of feeling overwhelmed without knowing why, and then come around to thinking, ““I need a trusted advisor to guide me and to hold me accountable as I try and figure out my career.’”

2. You’re struggling with your job search

If you're looking for a new job and sending out resumes, but your job search isn’t bearing fruit, a career coach can help. For many this might mean getting no calls in response to a resume, or not being asked to job interviews. For those who do get the call for an interview, a career coach can be a valuable investment if you're not receiving offers.

“Sometimes, clients come in with specific issues: They need to know how to conduct a job search. Branding. Career storytelling. Again, this is an area where a coach can help,” Friedman says.

3. Your professional brand needs work

To market yourself in your job search, you need to consider your professional brand, and this starts with a strong resume. If you need help crafting a resume, cover letters and other materials, or if you are seeking tips on how to present yourself in your best light in job interviews, a career coach can be a good choice. Career coaches can help craft résumés, cover letters, elevator pitches, and all the other facets of developing your professional brand to be successful in your job search or your career progression.

4. Your career has stalled

Another clear sign a career coach is for you: You're not moving up the career ladder, despite your hard work. “I also see clients who are trying to move up, who’re being groomed for leadership and need help with navigating politics in the office and organizational change,” Friedman says.

5. You’re challenged to stand out from the crowd

When it comes to differentiating yourself from other job seekers, it’s important to present yourself as more than just a collection of skills and credentials. In extremely competitive labor markets, honing in on your unique strengths and passion can make all the difference, and a career coach can help you identify and build on those strengths, helping you to stand out as the perfect fit for that next role.

6. You struggle with self-motivation

Advancing your career is challenging work, and at times, even the most motivated individuals can find themselves slacking or burnt out. So if you find yourself in need of someone “neutral” to hold you accountable for achieving your career goals, a career coach is a good bet. Setting goals and milestones and mapping out a path and concrete steps to achieve those goals can be easier when a neutral third-party is holding you accountable.

7. You’re ambitious

If you want to be successful and are looking to accelerate your journey to achieving your career goals, a career coach can be a catalyst. You can’t expect your dream career to just fall into your lap; you must prioritize success, and with a career coach by your side, achieving your professional goals can be that much more likely.

3 signs you’re not ready for career coaching

Even if you’ve identified the need for a career coach, if you struggle to look inside yourself for answers, a career coach may not be a solution for you at this time. A career coach can only take you so far, Friedman says. You must be open-minded and willing to work hard to identify your strengths and weaknesses and fight for the fulfilling career you want.

Here are three indicators that a career coach may not be right for you.

1. You think a career coach possesses all the answers and will find you a job

If you approach a career coach expecting the coach will connect you with a VP job in four easy steps, you may be disappointed. Career coaches are quick to point out that they can't perform miracles. What's more, the service is not a quick fix.

"This is not a situation where the coach waves a magic wand and gives you magic insights and everything is all better," says Curt Rosengren, a career coach in Seattle who specializes in matching people with professions. "If what you're really trying to do is buy a solution, the solution comes from the work you do."

2. You're reluctant to self-assess, self-examine and, quite possibly, network

A career coach will almost always give a client something to do or think about in preparation for their next session. For example, the coach could ask you to take a personality test, to reflect on your best and worst work experiences, or to network in your spare time. It's in your best interest to put time into this work, otherwise you're wasting your time and the coach’s time. You're also wasting your money.

Again, a career coach isn’t a miracle-worker. They can help you identify your passions, work to build up your strengths and mitigate weaknesses and help you present your best self to the world. But much of the actual work will come from within.

3. You have trouble opening up to others

For coaching to be effective, clients have to be honest with themselves and their coaches. And both coach and client have to be open to feedback and constructive criticism. Good career coaches won’t be shy about asking direct, probing questions and will be open to hearing constructive feedback on what is and isn’t working both in the general coaching process and in the job/career search. You shouldn’t be either.

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