What Does a Career Coach Do?

May 12, 2022
What Does a Career Coach Do?

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As working individuals, we all go through the many ups and down in our professional journey. The exact issues may vary for each person (lack of direction professionally, being overlooked for that deserving promotion, troubles getting the interview answers right, negative attitudes & mindsets that prevent growth, having anxiety transitioning to a different professional sphere…), but the sense of frustration, unfulfillment, stagnation, confusion, and stress are emotions that most people have experienced at some stage of their careers. If left unsolved, these seemingly small bumps can balloon into a mountain of trouble down the road.

One’s career should be treated as a marathon and not a 100m sprint – too much energy expended at the start and one may not have any fuel left in the tank to close out the race. On the other hand, being too sluggish at the start may lead to them never being the race at all. The trick is to phase oneself smartly, spread out resources out in a balanced manner so that they give themselves the best chance for being one of the winners in the career run.

Of course, this is easier said than done and requires an unbiased, trained, structured guidance that may well require external help to put one’s career on the right track. In such instances, a career coach can be the perfect ally.

A career coach is a trained professional who brings a range of services – such as understanding the client’s skills & aptitudes, challenges & barriers, strength & weakness, helping the client explore workplaces and job profiles that match their inclination, knowledge and experience, preparing a job search strategy that will make a positive impact on the client’s career, helping navigate the career bumps and brakes and professional anxieties, giving neutral and honest feedback on what areas works and what areas need work – all with the intent of helping the client achieve their desired professional goals.

So, if you are a newly minted coach yet to figure out a niche and are looking for an answer to the question ‘what does a career coach do’? –  here’s a list of things that a career coach does. Give it a read to know if it is the right fit for you to specialise in.

Chart Out a Customized Career Selection & Growth Plan

Selecting the correct career field is of utmost importance, one that aligns with your values, inclinations, education & expertise. All your top-notch credentials are for naught if you’ve made the wrong choice in choosing your career. For instance, family pressures (and your inherent intelligence) may have made you graduate top of your medical class, but your real passion lies in singing! You may well become a good doctor, but the lack of true enthusiasm towards medicine will prevent you from becoming a great one (not to mention a seriously frustrated bathroom singer!). It is vital that desires and qualifications have a sound marriage to ensure a successful professional journey.

In such cases, a career coach can help understand & evaluate where a client is and try and help them get where they truly want to be. Of course, the career coach can’t be expected to make decisions for the client, but what they can do is help their clients make informed career choices in their field (e.g. help them realize which specialization in medicine interests them the most etc.).

Getting the client out of their comfort zones and urging them to realize their own capacities and expand their professional limits is another of the many benefits of hiring a career coach

Next step is to chart out an actionable road map that is designed keeping the client’s skills and wishes in mind. A career coach will assess the state of their present career by asking detailed questions to gauge what roadblocks are holding back progress, what aspects need to be worked on, what changes need to be implemented to alter the current course, etc. Depending on the answers from the client, the career coach will plan a career strategy that will aim to deliver positive outcomes to the client’s professional growth.

Help Create Impressive Job Search Documents

Even finding a good job is a serious job! Having a smart job search strategy in place is essential to find a good job or better your current one. A career coach can guide the client by refining job search strategies, making optimum use of social media profiles on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, helping the client prepare eye-catching, well worded resumes and covering letters that make a strong impression on prospective employers, giving tips on the importance of good communication, poised and well-groomed look while engaging with likely bosses, etc.

Helping the client with personal branding of their credentials is necessary to help them stand out in the competitive job market, boost their chances of being found suitable for that lucrative job opening.

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Prepare the Client for Real-World Interviews & Negotiations

Your client has the credentials, the smart resumes, the talk & the walk but they still need to go out in the real corporate world and make an impression when it really counts – during the actual interview. It may sound surprising but the most confident of interviewees develop cold feet while being questioned by potential employers.

A career coach can help put those interview anxieties at rest by running the client through a mock drill that prepares them about the company’s background, the position and its responsibilities they are interviewing for, possible questions the interviewer may ask and how best to answer them, how to maintain a cool exterior and project an air of confidence during the interview, and more.

In addition, the career coach can also provide valuable pointers on how to negotiate salary packages and best possible benefits when the time comes.

Motivate the Client to Put in Their Best Efforts

When an individual has a smart job strategy, top of the line resume and qualifications, has sent out a whole lot of applications and are yet not getting the response they deserve, it can be discouraging. Especially if they are in desperate need of a job or even looking for a swift job change.

During these difficult times, having a good career coach to rely on can be a blessing. A career coach can not only provide an empathetic ear to their client’s problems but can be the best person to offer some wise advice on dealing with these professional challenges, ensuring they stay motivated and change their efforts (not downsize their goals) in their quest for career advancement.

Give Advice on How to Deal Positively with Career Setbacks & Anxieties

Career setbacks, repeated rejections, being overlooked for deserving promotions can have a damaging effect on a person’s mental health and create a lot of self-doubt about their own albitites. One of the important benefits of good career coaching is that it can help the client deal effectively with job stress and negative outcomes.

A career coach can help the individual find the real reason for rejections and help them work on those areas. In face of some serious professional holdups, anxieties about career transitions and their outcomes, the career coach can play a crucial role in helping the client maintain their focus on achieving their goals instead of deliberating on the negativities.

A mid-career slump can become very difficult to navigate around once there is lack of ambition, loss of motivation and general confusion on what to do next. The career coach can help that individual recollect the true reason why they chose the profession in the first place as well as help re-ignite the old passion for their work.

Provide Constructive Feedback & Set Accountability

Humans are often guilty of seeking self-glorification – most individuals love to hear how they are doing all things right (even if in reality their personal/professional lives might be in doldrums!) and attribute any failures to be the result of external circumstances! But this living in fantasy is not going to change reality and vital changes need to be implemented by the individual if they are going to turn around their career prospects.

A smart career coach will never be a ‘yes man’ to their client – which defeats the very purpose of their job. Instead, a good coach will give constructive but impartial, frank and honest feedback to the client, based on which the client can begin to plan out a reconstructive strategy that will truly help them in achieving their targets.

A career coach is well versed in knowing different career opportunities, career development plans, real and potential roadblocks and ways to overcome them – that can prove very effective for the client (assuming they keep an open mind) in their job search, career progress and attainment of objectives.

One of key advantages of utilizing the services of a career coach is that they encourage the client to accept their share of responsibilities for bringing about a transformation in their career, whether it is to restart a stalled one, transitioning into a newer field, assuming higher positions and the added duties that come with them, or turning around a serious career setback. A great career strategy only becomes great when it is implemented exactly the way it was envisioned. A career coach can keep regular track of progress, monitor periodic changes, help keep the client stay focused on the purpose of the coaching program and much more. But the accountability for any professional progress will eventually rest solely with the client. The career coach is like a stable hand who will bring the horse (client) to the water, but it is the horse’s (client’s) responsibility to drink the water.

Any coaching, not just career coaching, is a trusted, collaborative effort that requires full dedication from both the coach and the coachee for the process to deliver any positive transformations.

Engaging the services of a career coach can provide many benefits and value additions to an individual’s career graph. We hope this article has also provided useful answers to all the new (or about-to-be) coaches who are asking the question, ‘What does a career coach do?’


1. What is the role of a career coach?

A career coach is a trained professional who provides a collaborative, solution-oriented learning for professionals looking to upgrade, improve, alter, and grow their career trajectory. A career coach helps clients understand their own professional value, their skill sets, and real-world application of their qualifications and then guides them in finding best fit job profiles and companies that will align with their values, knowledge & capabilities. A career coach can help the client bridge the gap between their present and their future by helping set realistic goals and devising strategies that will truly deliver the desired outcomes. 

In short, the role of a career coach is to guide, motivate, encourage clients to pursue their dream careers and also to deter clients from giving up in the face of difficulties and provide valuable support while navigating tough work problems on their quest towards achieving specific career goals.

2. How do you become a career coach?

The main intent of career coaching is to help other individuals advance their own career graph. So, the career coach himself/herself has to be well qualified to coach fellow professionals. 

In order to become a career coach ideally the first step is to complete your graduation (bachelor’s degree) in a particular education stream (HR, Business, English and Mass Communication are common choices) and then upgrading as per the chosen field. Although having a degree is not mandatory, good educational qualifications on the resume make a good impression while engaging with clients. 

Having some prior experience of the professional field of the client can definitely be an add-on while understanding the requirements of clients. 

Developing good interpersonal and communication skills such as uninterrupted listening, empathizing with the client’s issues, clear and precise communication to avoid misunderstandings are also necessary.

A professional coaching certification from a recognized institution such as the ICF is a great way to boost credentials and establish a solid identity as a coach.  

Building a strong network helps engage with other professionals in the same field (giving you access to a shared knowledge database) and is also useful in expanding your reach and clientele. 

Conducting thorough research, on market & employment trends, the general condition of the job market, which sectors are likely to gain popularity in the near future, etc., can be quite helpful while advising your clients in making an informed decisions about their career paths. 

Marketing your services is an essential part of staying and succeeding in the competitive career coaching industry. Social media platforms, professional networking sites, website & personalized branding etc., are all great mediums to advertise your services to the intended audience and potential clients.

About Simply.Coach

Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF-accredited and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.  

About the author

An avid reader with love for books on history, sci-fi and popular fiction, Pallavi is a gifted content writer. She is also a keen listener of Indian semi & classical music. Currently, she juggles her duties of being a full-time mom with part-time content writing.

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