Do I really need to hire a Career Coach?
Why it Makes Sense to Hire a Career Coach in your 20’s
I am constantly answering questions about career coaching, from college students, parents, and the young professionals I meet while out and about. While the basic concept of this coaching specialty is simple to grasp, there’s a tendency to view career coaching as a luxury, only attainable by the wealthiest individuals, or only necessary for professionals who are unemployed.
These misconceptions are just that: distorted narratives that eclipse the real benefits of working with a trained expert who helps mentor and guide you through professional transitions. After 17 years of listening to these interesting narratives, I’ve curated the common objections I hear and my responses to them:
The objection: “I can’t afford a career coach until I actually get a job!”
This touches upon a much longer conversation about feelings of scarcity vs. abundance, as well as “when…then” thinking (“when I have X, then I will be Y”). For now, though, I’d just ask you to challenge yourself by changing your premise. Instead of making the statement “I can’t afford…” ask yourself the question “How can I afford…?”
We can have most of what we want if we’re only willing to be resourceful and make sacrifices accordingly. Career coaches should be willing to work on a payment plan or otherwise accommodate your individual situation. Personally, I work on a shared success model, which means the initial investment is manageable, and the balance is only due when the goals are met.
Career coaching is an investment in your future. Most people don’t think twice about taking out a student loan, or paying tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college education. They understand college is an investment. After college comes a career in the real world, which comes easily to some and less so for others. If the transition into full and fulfilling employment is turning out to be harder than you thought, you may need to continue to invest in yourself by “stopping and asking for some directions,” so that all the investments to date are maximized.
Objection: “I already know what I want to do.”
Some graduates believe they already know exactly what they “want to be when they grow up.” However, studying a particular subject in college is often very different than the experience of working a job in that field. Career coaches can offer perspective on what potential careers look like day in and day out.
A career coach can also help you explore new possibilities. There are so many more jobs out in the world than there are college majors! Most college grads aren’t aware of even a fraction of the possibilities that exist with the degree they hold. A career coach can help you identify not only what fields interest you, but which particular aspects of that field are the best match for your skill set.
For example, suppose you’re interested in the field of mental health. The obvious conclusion you might draw is that you ought to become a therapist. That’s certainly one possibility, but there are many others that also relate to mental health: office management for a therapy practice, advisor or associate for a mental health nonprofit organization, or a role in a human resources department or employee assistance program, to name a few. Your skills, interests and personality type may be much more conducive to managing a therapy practice than being a therapist yourself.
Even if you have a clear understanding of what a job in your field entails, there are still many aspects of getting the job that can be learned by working with a professional. It’s not just knowing what you want to do: it’s putting together the resume, finding appropriate internships, making connections, building your professional online presence, learning how to negotiate, interviewing with confidence, and more. A good career coach will be a hybrid: an expert in hundreds of job titles and industries, as well as in the job search process.
A great career coach has had a varied and interesting career themselves, and hasn’t only been a coach/consultant or worked in a career center. They must know the ins and outs of many industries and job titles, and have a plethora of contacts to introduce you to for networking purposes.
Objection: “I need to go it alone; my parents were able to find jobs without a career coach.”
While it’s true that career coaching may not have been an option for your parents, that doesn’t mean you should forgo this resource today (nor does it mean your parents wouldn’t have benefitted from career coaching!) In today’s society, the culture around work is different. The multitude of job options has only increased, and there is plenty of competition for each available position out there.
There’s no shame in asking for help. As they say, “If you don’t stop and ask for directions, you can get lost.” A career coach is the GPS that helps you navigate your career path! And if you’re concerned about missing out on a growth opportunity by getting assistance and support, remember: career coaches aren’t there to do the work for you. They act as mentors and guides, but you’ll still be putting in plenty of good old-fashioned hard work.
Professional career coaches have experience and expertise that can streamline your career search. When it comes to finding a job, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. There is a clear sequence of steps you can take to have a successful career search. Save yourself the time and the trouble of a meandering journey with missteps and mistakes.
When you need help with plumbing, you call the plumber. When you need help with taxes, you call your CPA. It’s only logical that when you need help with your career, you’d call a professional for that too. Career coaches live and breathe this stuff, and they can make your life a whole lot easier.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about career coaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out!