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Are You Coachable? A key question before engaging with a coach

Are you thinking about working with a coach to help advance your career?


See if any of these situations sound familiar:


  • You left your most recent position or want to make a change but don’t know where to start with your search.

  • You are unsure about how you will present yourself during an interview because you have not been in one in a long time.

  • You would like to advance in your career within your industry and don’t know if staying in your company will allow you to do that.

  • You want to make sure that you get the best possible offer because you don’t want to leave money on the table.

  • You have heard about how different the job search process is for senior-level professionals and executives yet continue to apply online and are not getting any callbacks.

  • You are ready for an encore career and think that joining a board of directors would be a good idea if you could figure out how to do it.

  • You have friends who worked with career coaches and can’t stop talking about how much coaching helped them to move forward.  

Which of these scenarios resonated with you? Are any of them similar to what you are going through right now? What have you done about it and what results have you obtained?


All of these situations are examples of what brings our clients to seek career coaching when they decide to allow themselves to explore something different that, with time, dedication, and effort, is beneficial for their careers. However, clients are not always ready to work with a coach, and, when they are not ready, they are less likely to get the benefits that they expected.  


We encourage you to think about how ready you are to take this important step in your career before you do anything else, including asking for career coach recommendations from your network, which is the best way to find someone you can trust.


You may be wondering what you need to consider to decide if and how ready you are for this potentially transformational experience.


We’ve made it easier for you with a list of the main factors that determine readiness for career coaching. You can use the list as a checklist or as a series of prompts for reflection.  


Let’s get started.


If you decided to use this tool as a checklist, answer “yes” or “no” after each statement.


Factor: Willingness to Change

  • You have made significant changes in your career before

  • You respond positively to challenges

  • You know which changes you are willing to make in your career and which ones you are not


Factor: Trust in the Process

  • You are open to developing a relationship with your coach where you can share your career aspirations and concerns

  • You believe that coaching can help you to achieve your career goals

  • You are convinced that career coaching is the right next step for you

  • You are willing to be guided to explore and think differently about your career


Factor: Openness to Feedback

  • You see the value of receiving constructive feedback

  • You are open to receiving constructive feedback

  • You are comfortable asking for clarification when you need to do so

  • You are receptive to considering different perspectives

  • You are open to new ways of thinking about how to represent yourself on your résumé

  • You are willing to consider alternative options for your job search

Factor: Commitment to the Process

  • You are willing to adjust your schedule to meet with your coach  

  • You are comfortable working to achieve the goals of long-term projects

  • Your commitment to the goals of coaching is at 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10

  • You are willing to complete assigned tasks, such as doing research, on time

Factor: Capacity for Self-Reflection

  • You practice self-reflection regularly

  • You are comfortable with the occasional discomfort during self-reflection

  • You are comfortable exploring your strengths and weaknesses

  • You see self-reflection as a valuable tool for your growth

Factor: Coaching Goals

  • You make your goals for growth a priority

  • You review and update your career goals regularly

  • You know what you would like to gain from career coaching

  • You are willing to modify your coaching goals as the process evolves

Factor: Ownership and Responsibility

  • You assume accountability for your career decisions and their results

  • You own your career mistakes

  • You actively seek opportunities for professional learning and growth

  • You are used to taking the initiative to tackle career challenges


Answering “yes” or finding out that something resonates with you to most of these statements suggests that you may be ready for coaching. In contrast, if your answers follow a different pattern, you may benefit from taking other steps to clarify any issues that may hinder your success before you start.    


Coachability is critical to unlocking your potential and will allow you to obtain the greatest benefits from a career coaching experience. We encourage you to take the steps necessary to become more coachable as you prepare for the journey of career coaching. 


Fellow coaches and D&S Executive Career Coaching colleagues, Lynda Grossman and Trish McGrath contributed to this blog post.

1 comment

1 Comment


Quite an insightful one. Food for thoughts!

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