A career coach can help you create a personalised plan to achieve the goals of your working life. While not qualified to intervene in significant mental, emotional, or psychological issues, they can provide unbiased perspectives on your unique career situation, identify key challenges, and help create realistic solutions for moving forward.
While there is no right or wrong time to ask for guidance, many coaches say that they are more effective the earlier clients engage.
“Career coaching is best used as prevention from finding oneself in an unfulfilling career, but it is also possible to use coaching to level up from an existing professional situation or to take action to change your direction even if you are 15–25 years into your career,” said Eli Bohemond, career coach at SEVEN Career Coaching in the UK.
Here are a few signs, according to two career coaches, that you may want to look into getting a coach.
As a self-described “recovering financial management consultant” who suffered an identity crisis five years into his previous career, Bohemond said apathy and anxiety are signs you could use a coach.
If you are having trouble getting out of bed to go to work, a coach can help you define your purpose and figure out how your current skills can be applied in a new type of professional environment.
While many seek help when struggling professionally, you may also want help in moving up the ladder. For some, the ideal situation is to work with a coach when you are doing relatively well and are looking to structure an action plan to help you evolve.
“If an individual comes to us with a positive mindset, patience, and self-awareness, it becomes infinitely easier to help them make and execute a reasonable action plan to achieve their desired outcomes,” said Bohemond.
Shannah Kennedy, an Australian life and career strategist, agrees. She often works with senior managers who are already thriving, but who want to invest in growth to flourish and show up every day at their best, both personally and professionally.
“It is like being an athlete — even the best athletes have a coach,” Kennedy said. “I think every three to five years you should have a coach for a few months to refocus, re-evaluate, and set new goals.”
Many of Bohemond’s clients come from the banking, private-equity, and financial services sectors, and he said one of the most common challenges is how to break free from the “golden handcuffs” of salary, lifestyle, prestige, and benefits that clients get locked into. Conversely, some of his younger clients with two to five years of experience often feel underappreciated and overworked in a job that they may have chosen for the wrong reasons.
A coach can help you navigate those feelings and figure out how to identify career possibilities, enable self-actualisation, increase self-confidence, and define and map your transferable assets to various careers.
If you are angry all the time, it may be time to hire a career coach, who can help you figure out whether your work is contributing to that anger and how to reroute your life in a more positive direction.
Bohemond said many clients come to him when they realise that their personal relationships with their partner, family, and friends are suffering because of their career.
Kennedy said many clients are in search of clarity. They feel lost or stale, and desire knowledge and perspective from a neutral source.
“Throughout my years of coaching, I’ve found that many of my clients share one commonality — most of them don’t need motivation,” she said. “They’re very successful people, and they know what they need to do to reach their goals. What they actually need is for things to be simplified, so they can dig themselves out of the clutter to find clarity and purpose in their daily routines and live a full life without self-destruction. They want to get back to the foundations of who they are.”
— Hannah Pitstick is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.