What Career Coaches CAN’T Do For You….

Posted: March 26, 2013 in career
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Changes are rampant in the Job Market, likely never to return to any sort of “status quo.” Careerealism(c) has gone so far as to say “Because every job is temporary.” Many accomplished and competent professionals are finding themselves investigating and investing in something they would have never thought of a few years ago – a Career Coach. Such a move is fraught with both opportunities and threats. With all due respect to my chosen profession, there are some things that are clearly beyond the capability of even the most practiced of Career Coaches.

Of course, there are some “caveat emptor” issues that come to mind immediately, Imageincluding– be sure to seek out someone with bona fide experience and related certification (there are numerous certifying organizations out there, not all of which are as bona fide as they may appear to be), request references from former clients, get a real sense of the potential investment in time and money, etc. Be a wise consumer….

All that being said, here are a few areas where I recommend you don’t “count on” Career Coaches (myself included!):

  • A career coach cannot tell you what you should be when you grow up, or even what you should do next.

This is a moving target, open to all kinds of changes at all ages and life stages. There is just no way that anyone has the ability and the knowledge to guarantee what the “best job” is for someone else. What they should be able to do is help you understand more about where your passions lie, what your best skills are, how you find satisfaction and provide guidance and support in seeking the best possible matches in your work and life.

  • A career coach cannot give you the ideal career path to follow from entry level to retirement.

Career paths are almost never straight. I once read that they are only linear in the rearview mirror! The fact is that the job market is so volatile and we humans are so malleable that one, specific “ideal career path” for most of us is probably a pipe dream.  By the way, this is good news, not bad!  This means that there could be any number of ways to arrive at Employment Nirvana, not just one!

  • A career coach cannot have a one-size fits all process that will work effectively for everyone.

Unfortunately, some do have a very programmed, lock step, this-is-always-the-way-to-do-it approach where they follow the same process each time, just add the client. Once again, people are entirely too complex and complicated to all have the same needs and to respond in the same manner. This is not to say, however, that career assessment and career planning systems are all bad. There are some excellent products and processes out there that can be very helpful in directing vocational development at almost any age. But none of them are fail-safe!  You have to make allowances for the human element (after all, we all are human, right?).

  • A career coach cannot have all the answers.

I know this is true for me! They should be asking you the right questions, though! And, to clarify, the professional career coach will be able to provide information, guidance, focus, skill-building and accountability, as well as assisting in reviewing and revising the process along the way, sharing insights and alternatives throughout.

As hackneyed as it may sound, Career Development is not a Destination; it’s a Journey.


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