Finding the purpose for your career may be known early on in life, through a series of jobs, or you may struggle to understand what really interests you no matter how hard you try to find the "right" job or career. This is when people become interested in professional development, mentoring, and even career coaching programs.

Career coaching programs have become popular and yet there is somewhat of a mystery involved because of the number of programs available, and the quality of these programs or coaches may be difficult to assess. The cost of a program can vary significantly, along with the background and experience of the coach. If you are going to make an investment you need to be certain the program has an ability to meet your needs and more importantly, you should be fully informed and aware of the factors that are indicative of an effective coach and meaningful program. While finding a coach can be easy; the challenge is finding the right one, along with a program that is a good fit.

When Is a Career Coach Needed?

One of the first reasons that a person considers a career coaching program is when they feel stuck or uncertain about their career. It may be natural to talk with colleagues, friends, or family; or a quest for answers could involve an Internet search. Looking for answers can be a frustrating process and if this occurs, it will only add to the anxiety and uncertainty the person is already feeling. If you decide to seek help, and understand what to look for as you search for a coach or mentor, you will find the process of searching is much easier to manage.

It is important understand there are misconceptions about what a career coach can or should do as you begin to consider seeking assistance. A coach is not a licensed therapist and they will not cure or resolve medical issues or psychological conditions, which can include depression, grief, or suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing any of those issues or conditions then professional treatment with a licensed therapist or counselor is required. In addition, a career coach is not going to discuss relationship matters, or health and wellness concerns, unless there is a specific need to do so and one that is relevant to your career needs.  

What Can a Coach Do for You?

There are specific areas that a coach can assist you with and it includes uncovering belief systems, developing motivation necessary to change, identifying areas of development, creating productive habits, examining your dreams, and establishing goals. It is possible they can also provide you with strategies, tools, and resources. A coach can help you clarify your feelings of uncertainty, relieve your frustration, and develop a focus on specific plans so that you feel a sense of renewal; provided you are willing to work with your coach. One of the most essential functions that a coach can perform is asking questions that will help prompt you to discover your potential and capacity for change and growth. What a coach should not do is to make promises or guarantees about your career, or finding a job as their role is to provide guidance.

What Makes a Good Career Coach?

There is no guarantee that when you hire a coach you are working with someone who has the experience necessary to produce the results you are looking for or need. There are career coach certification programs, and academic programs with coaching and counseling specializations, so that is one indicator of the background a coach has and the knowledge they possess. For example, I have a doctorate degree in the field of adult education and my experience also provides an indicator of my ability to coach clients. I have been an educator, mentor, teacher, and coach for a majority of my career, and I have an ability to empathize, listen, and help clients focus on finding solutions to address their developmental needs. I have worked with educators, students, and clients throughout my career. When you contact a coach, ask about their experience with this type of work to help you gain a better perspective of their ability to guide you.  

What Makes a Meaningful Program?

When you sign up for a program it should involve more than a coach listening to you and then dictating what you should do with your career. Coaching is a process of discovery where the coach listens to the client, ascertains their needs, and helps them find ways to make changes, while being directly involved in and accountable for their self-development. It is expected you will be fully invested in the process and complete any materials that have been assigned to you. What makes a program meaningful is the inclusion of engaging and relevant materials and resources.

To provide you with an example of a meaningful program, here is an outline of the custom created career coaching program I have created:

Initial No-Cost Consultation: We will learn about you and discuss your career challenges, goals, and interests. You will learn about me and my background, what my program offers and how I can help you, and what you can expect from the program and my role as a mentor and coach. Together we will determine if we can work together to create new goals and plans for your career.

Week One: If we reach a mutual agreement to work together, this week begins the process of self-discovery. Our first goal is to explore your beliefs and how belief systems are formed. Each week you will receive a worksheet to complete and submit prior to our scheduled meeting, and this will help prepare both of us for a productive conversation.

Week Two: We will explore your experience and background to better understand where you have been and what you have done in your career.

Week Three: This week we will summarize your strengths and weaknesses, and consider what your career dreams, passion, and calling may be.

Week Four: We will help you decide what you want to focus on doing from this point forward, and talk about turning dreams into a reality.

Week Five: This week is a time of establishing new career goals, now that you have clarity about your career and what you want to do with your career.

Week Six: In this last and final phase of the program we will discuss potential obstacles and barriers, along with strategies and techniques for addressing those potential issues.

A career coaching program is an investment of time for both you and your coach. To determine if this is a good fit you need time to talk to a prospective coach without having to first make a commitment. For example, I offer a no-cost, no-obligation session to discuss the program, your needs, and expectations of the program.

Not only is there a time factor for you to consider for the program, you also need to be open to new ideas and willing to try new strategies, techniques, and strategies. Your coach can serve as a partner in a journey that explores your interests, goals, dreams, and fears. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding process, especially if you have chosen an experienced coach and found a program that addresses your specific needs.

To schedule a no-cost, no-obligation session with Dr. J, please use the Contact Form

About Dr. J

Dr. J is an educator whose purpose is teaching, writing, and inspiring others. He is available for project-based and long-term assignments. Dr. J has published 184 online articles related to adult education, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development. He has also published the following resources:

Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs

Transform Online Teaching is available for anyone that is interested in teaching online courses and it is on sale this month for $7, plus $3.00 flat shipping fee for shipping to the United States. (The original cost was $19.99). The downloadable PDF version has also been reduced from $10 to only $5.

Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning

Appreciative Andragogy is available for anyone that is interested in teaching online courses and it is on sale this month for $7, plus $3.00 flat shipping fee for shipping to the United States. (The original cost was $15.00). The downloadable PDF version has also been reduced from $10 to only $5.

Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business

Getting Down to Business is available for anyone that is interested in traditional college courses and it is on sale this month for $7, plus $3.00 flat shipping fee for shipping to the United States. (The original cost was $15.00).

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