Feeling stuck in a career rut and looking to get unstuck? Maybe a career change could be the answer! It can be really tempting to avoid rocking the boat in favor of maintaining a steady income and a peaceful life. But, what if you are missing out and wasting your potential?
Let’s be honest, we are all still triggered by the pandemic in some way. The Great Resignation and 4.4 million people quitting their jobs showed us that work priorities have shifted. Many people have turned to career coaching to help them navigate these changing work landscapes, and this trend seems to be rapidly rising in popularity.
Sometimes an external perspective can be the objective advice that you really need. Whatever your career level, coaching for a career change can help you strike forward in your long-term career. In this article we explore:
What is a career transition coach?
How can a career transition coach help you?
How to find the right career coach
According to the recent International Coaching Federation (ICF) report, career coaching has shown rapid growth between 2019 and 2022. Clients aged between 35 and 44 years are most frequently accessing coaching services (37 percent), followed by clients aged 45 to 54 years (32 percent), and the under 35’s rank at 21 percent.
What is a career transition coach?
Career transition coaches are talented professionals who can help you get a foot in the door if you are looking for a career switch. Typically they will have a strong background in recruitment or HR, combined with significant industry and career coaching experience.
Career coaches can not only help you improve your resume/application documents, enhance your social media presence, and prepare for interviews, they can also support you in many other ways, such as negotiating compensation, accessing training programs, and opening up networking opportunities and industry connections.
In a nutshell, career transition coaches work in partnership with you to pinpoint what you want to achieve in your career, provide strategies and solutions to get started, and create an action plan with career milestones and objectives.
How can a career transition coach help you?
When you are targeting a completely new role or industry, you might not know where to get started and it can feel a bit overwhelming. Here are some ways a career transition coach can help you:
1. Career planning
As Benjamin Franklin stated, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Career transition coaches can help you prepare a career plan with realistic goals. It can be difficult to be objective when creating a career plan for yourself. You might not realize your potential and be overly cautious in goal setting, or you could reach for the stars and set unrealistic targets.
Your career transition coach can provide you with a personalized career plan, enabling you to visualize each step of the process until you reach your long-term goals.
2. Strengths assessment
Career transition coaches can provide you with valuable insights into your personal strengths and how these relate to your proposed career change. This can be difficult to assess yourself, or for family or friends to advise, so an objective and trusted third-party is probably the best option.
For example, if you love working with children, enjoy educating, and school holidays would be ideal due to family commitments, you may think a teaching role would be perfect. However, classroom management, administrative duties, CPD requirements, and preparation demands outside of the academic year could be other aspects that you may not have thought about and perhaps might not play to your strengths.
Career transition coaches have a wide range of tools and assessments they can use to evaluate your strengths and provide some insightful input to your new career direction. The Myers-Briggs test, SWOT, and PESTLE tools can help assess your suitability for target careers and measure the feasibility of your new career direction.
Ask your career transition coach to assess your weaknesses as well as your strengths. While it may be a tough pill to swallow, constructive criticism can help you make positive progress on both a personal and professional level. Learning how to receive and give this type of feedback can mean the difference between your career skyrocketing or potentially nosediving.
3. Resources for your job search
Career transition coaches can point you in the right direction when it comes to using the best resources for your job search. Whether this is creating optimized job searches, enhancing your networking skills, uncovering training opportunities, or building industry connections.
4. Create targeted application materials
Creating targeted job application materials, including resumes, cover letters, social media profiles, and personal statements can help you get a foot in the door. Career coaches will hone your application to meet the brief and set you apart in a crowded candidate pool.
5. Interview preparation
Crafting persuasive job application materials is vital, but being ready to ace the interview process is equally important. Career coaches will ensure you are interview-ready by preparing killer answers to interview questions and practicing these with you via mock interviews.
6. Provide motivation
When making a career transition it can be easy to get demotivated due to the inevitable lack of response or rejections you may receive from employers. Optimistically clicking send on 10 online applications is an exciting feeling, but zero responses can soon deflate your optimism levels. Career coaches will pick you up and encourage you to persevere despite these hurdles - thereby ensuring you don’t give up on your new career goals.
- Ask how much it will cost. Coaching fees aren’t regulated so ask first to avoid a shock.
- Keep in mind, hourly fees range from $75 to $500 (or more) and are not reflective of success rates.
- Think about what you can afford and stick with it.
- Sign up with the first career transition coach you meet, even if they seem perfect.
- Try a few taster sessions and speak to at least three different coaches.
- Rush. Pursuing a career change is a major life event, so take your time.
How to find the right career transition coach
Career transition coaches clearly have a lot to offer, but how can you make sure you find the right one in an unregulated industry? Here are some top tips to finding a career coach that will tick all your boxes:
Connecting with people in your network and asking for a referral is one of the best ways to find a great career transition coach. Whether they are currently using a coach or have in the past, find out about their experience and any positive outcomes so you can evaluate if this coach is worth contacting.
2. Conduct local and online searches
Alongside referrals, search for career transition coaches in your area, particularly if you would like to meet your coach in person. If you prefer to work remotely with your career coach then you can extend your search further afield via online research.
Most career coaches will have their own social media pages and websites where you can get a sense of their background, style, approach, clients, and success stories. If you find yourself identifying with a specific career coach, then add them to your shortlist.
3. Check credentials
While coaching is an unregulated industry, you can still check the credentials of a career transition coach. Check if the career coach has significant industry experience, completed training courses, or secured accreditation with reputable bodies such as the International Coaching Foundation.
Alongside this, try to find out how many people they have helped transition to a new career and any positive outcomes. Check client testimonials or ask to speak to previous or existing clients directly to find out whether they had a positive experience.
Many career transition coaches will offer an initial consultation for free, so it’s well worth taking them up on this offer. During this taster session you can find out more about the coach and their background. This is also a great opportunity to see if you can build rapport with the coach and assess whether you will actually enjoy the coaching experience.
Here are some key questions to ask during your consultation session:
What is your coaching style?
Coaches have different approaches, so it’s good to find one aligned to your individual requirements. Are you a person who prefers a holistic or introspective approach? Would you thrive while working with a career transition coach who is action-focused? Most importantly, will the chosen approach help you achieve your goals?
What experience do you have in (my target industry)? Can you give me an example of a client who you successfully helped achieve their career goals?
If your coach is experienced and, even better, has specific expertise in your target industry, then they are more likely to be able to help you succeed. While this may involve a higher price tag, it can definitely be a worthy investment. Ask for specific examples of success stories and the opportunity to speak to past clients to verify this information.
What format are the coaching sessions?
Coaching sessions may be in-person, online, or a mixture of the two. Think about what works best for you in terms of interactions and factor this in when choosing your career transition coach.
What type of tools, resources, and approaches will you use during the coaching process?
Coaches will use different resources and approaches to help you achieve your career goals, so it’s a good idea to find out about their specific methods during a consultation so you can compare and contrast.
Ask the career coach how a typical session will run, what the overall coaching program would look like, and present them with a specific goal you have in your career switch up to see how they respond.
Career transition coaches are professionals who can help you chart a new career direction, providing you with strategies, resources, and solutions to achieve your goal.
Making a career change is a major life decision. Coaches can help you create a robust career plan, assess your strengths, develop targeted application materials, prepare for interviews, and most importantly, keep you motivated!
Ask your network for referrals of great career transition coaches and conduct your own research to create a shortlist. Investigating credentials and attending free consultations will help you find the best coach for your unique requirements.
Finding the right coach may take time and effort, but investing this time could pave the way to an exciting new career.