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Navigating the Career Coaching Process: What to Expect and How to Make the Most of It

Have you worked with a career coach before?

Many of our clients are new to coaching and its value in career management. They are often unaware of how working with a career coach can make a difference in their job search, interviewing, career transition, and many other components of their careers. Thus, they are missing out on an opportunity to differentiate themselves as they search for jobs, but, most importantly, missing out on an opportunity to gain new insights and perspectives on themselves.

In preparation for this first of two collaborative posts, I reached out to my colleagues Lynda Grossman, Michelle Merritt, and Trish McGrath who, like me, are passionate about career coaching. All of us answered the same questions and it was fascinating to see how much we agreed on as well as how each one’s personality came through in our answers.

Let’s find out what you should expect from coaching.

How do you define coaching?

Coaching is about assisting clients to achieve their professional goals and empowering them to find their career paths forward. Personalized guidance, support, and creating a trusting environment are essential for the collaborative relationship that is the foundation for success as coach and client break down goals, define actionable steps, and navigate through the process together. Engaging in coaching is an effective way for clients to understand themselves, and align their career goals and values. 

Lynda Grossman pointed out that a career coach provides support by asking probing questions and providing information so that clients can clearly see and take the next steps. Trish McGrath shared a more holistic perspective that coaches “help people build happier lives” by empowering them to move from where they are to where they want to be as a collaborative partner for clients to gain clarity about themselves and their careers. Michelle Merritt positioned collaboration in coaching as “coming alongside someone” so that they can see a path forward that they could not find on their own.

What are the most important components of coaching?

Clients need to consider their characteristics as well as those of the coach when deciding to pursue coaching because, without that “client-coach fit,” the coaching relationship is less likely to succeed.

A coaching relationship requires the full commitment of the client and coach so that clients reach their goals. According to Trish McGrath, both parties must be committed to working together as equal partners.

Open communication and mutual respect are essential in this relationship. Clients must be willing to experience vulnerability, handle discomfort, and trust the process as they move forward. According to Lynda Grossman, the client’s action items that come out of the session are important components of coaching. Michelle Merritt adds that the client’s willingness to try something new or make small changes makes a big difference.

Coaches create a safe space, ask probing questions, adapt their approaches to what clients need, respect boundaries, and stay ethical in a successful coaching relationship. They also manage expectations and stay in the role of coach instead of becoming teachers or counselors.

In summary, the combination of a coachable client and a coach who has experience, flexibility, and adaptability are the two most important components of coaching because they are the foundation of what happens next. 

What are some of the benefits?

Career coaching offers clients a unique opportunity for guided self-exploration

Clients can gain new perspectives; achieve clarity about career paths, goals, and action steps; manage stress; become more self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses; and be more effective in their job searches, interviews, and offer negotiations.

Self-confidence is a primary component of job searching and interviewing. Through career coaching, clients gain that confidence and feel empowered in their career journeys because they know that they have a professional with them and, as Michelle Merritt points out, understand that they are not alone in the process. According to Lynda Grossman, after working with a career coach, the client has an action plan and knows the ideal next steps to move forward. Therefore, by working with a career coach, clients avoid unnecessary trial and error since, as Trish McGrath stated, “the quickest way to go from point A to point B” is to work with a career coach.

Final Comments

In the second part of this blog series, we will discuss what a typical coaching session looks like and how long coaching should last. With this information, you will be better prepared to decide if career coaching is the right choice for you.

Interested in working with one of our talented coaches to help advance your career? Schedule a call to learn more.


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