A career coach can help you achieve your professional goals. However, choosing the right career coach for you is crucial for benefiting from their guidance. Use these questions to ask your prospective career coach about their coaching style to gauge if they’re a good fit for you.
In this article we’ll discuss:
Tips for preparing for your first meeting with a career coach
Questions to ask to gauge if a career coach is right for you
How to prepare for a career coach meeting
Many career coaches offer initial consultations or meet and greets to give an opportunity to see if the fit is right. Before going to your first meeting, take a moment to prepare yourself. Using the prompts below as a reference, write down the questions you hope to ask. Take some time to sit with yourself and think about what it is you hope to achieve from working with a career coach.
When you meet with a career coach, you want to be the one centered. You shouldn’t leave your meeting feeling anxious, lost, or unheard. While the career coach should be the one to create a balanced dynamic, it’s also important for you to assert yourself and your needs. Make a list and bring the physical paper with you to reference. Practice saying your needs out loud before your meeting if you have a hard time speaking up or are intimidated by the interaction.
Overall, meeting with a career coach should feel welcoming and inspiring. Coaches understand that clients usually seek them out when they’re needing a nudge in the right direction, and they should be excited to be the person to help get you there.
10 Questions to ask your career coach
While interviewing potential career coaches, consider asking the following questions to help select the best career coach for you:
1. What is your background in career coaching?
Years of experience aren’t the most crucial qualification of a career coach, but learning about their background can be. There are a number of certifications a career coach can possess that can help amplify their credibility. Ask about their education and professional development specifically relating to career coaching.
2. Why did you decide to become a career coach?
Ideally, your career coach chooses this profession because they are passionate about helping others. However, it’s important to recognize that in the field of career coaching, there are people who have ulterior motives. Ask your coach to explain what motivates them about their own career and what led them down that career path.
3. What is your coaching style and what influences it?
This is a very important question! Every person has a learning style that benefits them more than others. The same goes for a coaching style. The two main camps of career coaching styles are directive and non-directive. Basically, directive coaching is where the client is given clear, tangible steps on how to think about their goals and work towards them. Non-directive, on the other hand, is based more on prompting the client to think about how to achieve their goals on their own. Think about which one might work with your learning style best, and go with a career coach who implements it.
4. How will you help me define my career goals?
Half the people who pursue a career coach know exactly what direction they want to go and need help figuring out the route. The other half don’t know what direction to go and need guidance on how to move forward in one direction. By asking the coach how they will help you define your goals, you will be able to see if they are better suited to support one type of client over the other.
5. Do you help clients with their resumes and cover letters?
Most people benefit from having a professional review their resume and cover letter. Trends in both documents are always evolving and formatting for each can be difficult to get right. If you feel uncertain about the quality of your resume and cover letter, you definitely want a career coach who feels confident in their ability to produce effective documents.
6. What kind of industries have you explored, and are you able to give guidance on them?
If you are interested in owning a small business, a career coach that has primarily worked in corporate settings might not be able to offer the most relevant insight. Ask your prospective career coach about what kind of in-depth knowledge they have for the industries that interest you.
7. Do you have experience in negotiating salary and benefits?
Having real, firsthand experience negotiating salary offers important insight. Engaging in negotiations can feel intimidating and risky. By learning from someone who has personal experience, they can offer tips and tools on how to remain empowered throughout the conversation.
8. How do you provide guidance for overcoming obstacles?
Employment obstacles affect professionals at every stage of their careers. A career coach can act as a mentor for maneuvering through those hardships. It can be easy to become discouraged during the job search if you keep hitting dead ends. Entry-level positions can face conflict with their management team. Mid-level people might start to experience burnout. Whatever the hardship, you want a career coach who can empathize and give effective advice.
Try asking your prospective career coach about how they resolve conflict, what kinds of professional obstacles they’ve overcome, and testimonials from previous clients about how their advice has helped.
9. Can you help me identify my strengths and weaknesses?
One of the best ways to hone in your professional skills is to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Doing so requires vulnerability and self-awareness, which can be challenging for some to move through. A career coach should be able to provide support in identifying your skills and areas of improvement, which will allow you to make informed decisions about your professional growth.
10. Can you help me prepare for interviews?
Interviews are all subjective, but there are general themes that are typically followed in most industries. Working with a career coach can help you to ace your interview. They will be able to guide you through developing concrete responses to common interview questions, and hopefully they will be able to practice mock interviews with you too.
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Working with a career coach is a great tool for advancing your career forward.
The career coach is there to help you! Make sure they’re insight and experience aligns with your needs.
Prepare the questions you ask ahead of time so that you can go into your initial meeting feeling confident.