Career Coaching: Finding a Coach that Fits Your Needs

Written by Coursera • Updated on

If you're looking for guidance along your career path, a career coach could help.

[Featured image] Two women in pantsuits sit together at a coffee table with drinks in front of them during a career coaching session.

A career coach works with clients to help them move forward on their career paths. Together, they may focus on a number of areas, including job changes, the application process, negotiating offers, or feeling settled in a current position.

In this article, we’ll discuss how career coaching works, who can benefit from working with a career coach, and how you can find one.

What do career coaches do?

Career coaches aim to help their clients navigate their career paths. If you are interested in working with a career coach, here are some ways they may help you:

  • Assess your career trajectory

  • Create career goals and generate pathways

  • Advise you on skills-building to strengthen your position

  • Update your resume and public-facing social media profiles

  • Offer feedback on job applications

  • Secure informational interviews

  • Prepare for informational or job interviews

  • Write business communications

  • Prepare to ask for a promotion

  • Assess job offers and help you negotiate


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Who can benefit from career coaching?

Typically, a person seeking a career coach is looking to make some type of change to their current career path. This desire can take many forms, including people who are:

  • Vying for a promotion

  • Seeking a career change

  • Seeking an industry change

  • Moving through the application process

  • Struggling to identify their next steps

It used to be more common for people to work with career coaches later in their careers, such as those at the senior or executive level; however, now people might seek career coaching at any career stage.

Finding a career coach

As long as you work with the right coach for you, anyone stands to benefit from career coaching. Here are some steps you can take to find a coach who can fit your needs:

1. Recognize the type of support you need.

The process of finding a career coach starts with knowing what you hope to get out of your career coaching experience, whether that’s an overall goal or a skill set you’ll need to develop in order to get there. Many career coaches can help in all areas of career planning, but some might specialize in specific areas. Career coaches with specializations may highlight their area of expertise on their website or wherever they advertise their services.

Also, take into account the type of support that feels most motivating to you. Some people seeking a career change opt for alternative coaching styles—such as spiritual coaches, meditation coaches, or life coaches—rather than a traditional career coach. This may help illuminate how your career change fits into the entire structure of your life.

Consider what you can do for yourself

Working one-on-one with a career coach can offer a level of personalization that you won’t get elsewhere. However, there are many resources available to help you help yourself. Get started with courses like Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential and the University of Michigan’s Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life, available on Coursera.


2. Determine your career coach search criteria.

Once you know more about the support you are looking for, you may have some logistical considerations, including:

  • Certifications: Although career coaches aren’t required to hold any specific credential, there are a few different certification options available. If you want some extra reassurance surrounding your coach’s skills and expertise, you may want to consider finding a credentialed or certified coach. Some popular career coaching certifications include Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC), International Coaching Federation (ICF), or Board Certified Coach (BCC).

  • Cost: Career coaching is an investment. Coaches can arrange their own pricing structure, but many will charge between $75 to $150 per session. Depending on their experience and expertise, some coaches may charge much more.

  • Location: Career coaches may work with clients in person, on the phone, or over video chat. Think about the meeting structure that feels most beneficial for you.

3. Find your career coach.

With your goals and criteria set, you’re ready to start your search. A good place to start is referrals. If you know anyone who has worked with a career coach, ask if they would recommend their coach. Some certification websites, such as ICF, also have search functions allowing you to find a coach based on your criteria. You can also find a coach through a general internet search. To help verify a coach’s offerings, browse their website, social media pages, and reviews of their business.

Regardless of where you find your coach, schedule an introductory session or consultation before committing to any services. You can also ask your prospective coach for references. It’s important to have confidence that you and your coach will work well together in order to reach your goals.

Continue learning

If your goals involve a career or industry change, consider earning a Professional Certificate from companies like Google, Meta, and IBM, available on Coursera. Get job-ready through online instruction and hands-on projects as you prepare to transition into a new stage of your career.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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