Career Coaching: How to Find a Coach That Fits Your Needs

Written by Coursera Staff • 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

  • Navigate career transitions

  • 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

Who can benefit from career coaching?

The short answer is everyone can benefit from career coaching. But it can be pricey, so it tends to be an investment for someone seeking to make some type of change in 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, but now people seek career coaching at any career stage.

How to find 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 switching careers 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 that can help you narrow down your search. Consider the following:

Remote or in-person? 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. If you're looking to meet your career coach in person, you'll need to search within your area.

Are they certified? 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).

3. Consider how much you're willing to pay.

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.

Consider the potential value of career coaching in your life. Ask yourself the following:

  • How many sessions are you aiming for?

  • Do you want an accelerated process with weekly check-ins or a long-term approach?

  • Do you have a target salary in mind? What are your professional goals?

  • How much are you willing to pay for coaching?

Some of these answers will vary depending on your career coach's recommendations and preferences. Some coaches are flexible and work with clients to determine a cadence that works for both of you, while other coaches have developed a structured plan with high success rates.

You'll want to shop around for a coach and plan that aligns with your financial needs and career goals.

Is a career coach worth it?

A career coach can help you unlock new opportunities when you're feeling stuck. Their purpose is to challenge your mindset, craft a strategic plan of action, and provide best practices that are tailored to your career goals. While it may seem like a lot to pay $750 for, say, five sessions, if a career coach helps you get a promotion, pivot your career faster, or increase your salary by $40k, then $750 might feel like a worthy investment in the long run.


4. Find your career coach.

With your goals, criteria, and budget in mind, 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.

5. Schedule an introductory session.

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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