Do You Need a Career Coach?

The right career guru could help you get ahead in the job market.

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Lindsay Olson
As much as we'd all like to believe that employers instantly see our merit, sometimes it's difficult to stand out in a sea of candidates. Working with a career coach is one way to get ahead in the job market.

[See our list of the Best Careers.]

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I regularly get looked over for jobs for which I feel I'm qualified?
  • Do I find it difficult to sell myself in an interview?
  • Do I find it hard to articulate my previous contributions and successes?
  • Do I feel like I need outside assistance to get a promotion or make a major career change?
  • If you answered yes to any of these, a career coach may be able to help. Whether you're looking for a job or want a promotion, the right career coach can help you gain insight, clarify your goals, and overcome career obstacles.

    Identify Your Strengths

    Sometimes it's hard for us to really view ourselves in the light that potential employers do. We may rattle off a list of skills we've acquired and technologies that we know how to use, but when it comes to digging a bit deeper to demonstrate how selecting you will help the company solve a problem, you feel completely lost. A career coach should be able to help you articulate your unique skills and strengths and help you discover personal issues that could be holding you back.

    Improve Your Communication Skills

    We're not all born communicators; sometimes we need a little help to navigate through tough job situations. A career coach can help you deal with a difficult boss or coworker, shine in an interview, or help you find ways to make your contributions more visible on the job.

    [See 8 Signs You Should Look for a New Job.]

    Enhance Your Job-Hunting Skills

    For many of us, the idea of networking is petrifying. A career coach can walk you through how to enter a room of strangers and do so confidently. She can assist you in creating a strategy for your networking to increase your chance of finding a job.

    Position You for More Promotions

    If you're getting overlooked for promotions, a career coach can help you identify the cause and help better position you to move up. It might be as simple as diversifying your skills or communicating better, or even simply knowing how to ask your boss for the promotion.

    How to Find a Career Coach

    Career and life coaching are relatively new areas that have gained massive traction in the past decade. Anyone can call themselves a life coach or career coach, so finding the right person takes a bit of effort.

    Look for a coach who is certified with an organization like the International Coach Federation or the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches. These organizations offer formal training and accreditation—you want to work with someone committed to the profession.

    [See The Skinny on Employee Referral Programs.]

    The most important factor in selecting a coach is the chemistry between you and that person. This is someone you will be sharing intimate details of your life with and working alongside to better yourself. Avoid coaches who over-promise or say they will take care of everything for you; this is your career, after all. The process is a two-way street and hiring a coach won't magically set you on the right path. Coachees must be active, engaged participants who are willing to accept feedback and have realistic expectations about their goals to reap the benefits.

    Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

    Twitter: @PRJobs