“A career coach is a professional who can help you navigate professional transitions, such as identifying which job or career is right for you, or helping you sharpen your pitch so that you can pursue the job of your dreams,” says Dorie Price, marketing strategy consultant, speaker and author of Reinventing You.
Here are five things a career coach can do for you—better than you can do yourself.
1. Help you get to know yourself better
“Often people think they already know themselves pretty well, but when asked one simple question, What are your top four personal and emotional needs?, they draw a blank,” says Talane Miedaner, speaker, coach and author of Coach Yourself to a New Career. “How can you claim to be self-aware or emotionally intelligent if you don't know the basics—your very own needs?”
With their objective perspectives, career coaches can help you identify your needs in order to use that information to create a fulfilling career.
2. See the possibilities
Sometimes we’re so mired in the day-to-day business of work that we can’t see beyond the tips of our own noses. That’s where a career coach comes in. “Ideally, you want to find a job that matches your unique talents, abilities, financial goals, family considerations and core values,” explains Miedaner.
A career coach can help you determine your individual priorities and strengths and look for opportunities where you can honor and employ them—sometimes in places you’ve never considered before.
“Then, once you’ve identified where you’d like to land, a good career coach can help you think about how to network strategically in order to break into that company or industry, and help you hone your resume and interview skills so that you’ll wow them during the interview,” adds Clark.
3. Identify roadblocks
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may feel like you’ve hit a plateau at work—with no end in sight. “A good career coach can help you identify roadblocks and navigate office politics,” notes Clark. Are there new skills you need to develop?
“They can also help you make a good assessment about whether the obstacles at your current job can be overcome or not, and if not, where and how to start looking for your next position,” she says.
4. Discover your military-to-civilian fit
A career coach can be especially helpful for those transitioning from the military to a civilian career. They can help you explain how your military experience transfers to a civilian job. “Employers often wrongly pigeonhole military veterans,” says Clark. “If you did logistics in the service, you may only be considered for logistics in the civilian world. And if you did a job that doesn’t have too many civilian analogues—such as operating a submarine or defusing bombs— they may not know what to make of you,” she explains.
A career coach can help you translate your skills to a civilian position that puts those skills to good use. “The key is to identify the tasks and abilities you have and, then choose a career path that will enable you to develop and express them,” Miedaner explains.
5. Shine a light on what you missed
“What most people don't realize is that any unused or unexpressed ability is very likely to produce a sense of dissatisfaction—that rankling feeling that there has to be something better that you could do,” says Miedaner. “If you feel you haven't tapped into your full potential, it’s a fairly safe bet that there is some hidden ability that is now starting to demand expression.”
A career coach can help you pinpoint this mysterious talent so you can put it to good use.