How to Get Ready To Work With A Career Coach

Are you ready for it? KDB Coaching
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Alternate Title: I’m Probably Going to Scare You

As I was thinking about a title other than “How to Get Ready to Work With a Career Coach,” the lyrics for “Oops I Did It Again” ran through my head. See, there was a certain new client call I had recently that’s inspiring this post. Once again I accidentally frightened a prospective client. She even told me I scared her. I didn’t mean to, honestly!

Before I go any further, it can not be said enough that if you are reading this you are ahead of the game. If you are seeking out a coaching website, drafting a new résumé, looking at job postings, or just admitting you need a new job, excellent! Congratulations on looking up and getting ready to make a change. That is already a giant win in your column. Keep it up!!

Now back to the scaring people part… If you call me as your coach, I promise to work for your best interest. But, I can’t promise not to scare you. I sort of have a reputation for being the truth-teller in the room. It’s good for my clients, not so good for family get-togethers. I firmly believe that coaches exist to tell you the truth. We teach the good and the bad of hiring and explain where it’s going to get ugly. A good coach tries to ask you the right questions. The goal is for you to understand when you might be going off the rails and provide support to get on track.

My job is to get you through a program reasonably quickly. I want you to get a fantastic new job. To do that, you have to be both physically and mentally ready to go. To that end, here are a few things to think about as you begin to learn how to get ready to work with a career coach.

How to Get Ready To Work With A Career Coach

#1 – Know What You Are Getting Into. Reading this blog counts as research for this topic.

Going into a coaching relationship means that someone is going to ask hard questions. You are hiring them to support you while you fix behaviors and strategies that are not serving you well. It can be emotionally draining and bring up feelings. Coaches are not therapists. If it gets too difficult, you may need to find even more support to get you through it.

While I love it if prospective clients only want to talk to me, they really shouldn’t. OK, you can, but if you are not sure, please do your research. Each coach has their own way of doing things. It’s important that their teaching and coaching style meshes with how you learn and process information. Getting ready to work with a career coach means that you have to understand your coach’s process and be ok with it.

For example, I can’t write a résumé without fully interviewing a client. I honestly can’t do anything with a client until we have had that résumé interview call. It’s the basis for everything I do. My background is recruiting, so for me, everything starts with the interview.

This also means I cost more because of the time I put in. Going through a résumé writing process with me is still coaching. My process is one on one and high touch. We cover a lot of ground developing your career story. No story means no résumé or interview structure.

Some people don’t want a high touch résumé writer or coach, and that is ok. I am happy to make referrals because this business is not about me. The goal is you getting a job and not blowing your budget to do so. That should always be the first priority.

#2 – Coaching is a partnership. I can not do my job if my client is not invested in our relationship. It is so important that if you are looking for a coach, you find one you trust and enjoy spending time with.

In a coaching session, we are going to talk about what you want to do with your life. We may also talk about how those decisions affect your family, your team, your reputation, and myriad other topics. If you are someone who has not worked for a while we may talk about finances. Basically, we cover topics that are emotionally challenging.

Not quite ready? No problem. It’s a big commitment. Take a step back and decide if coaching right now is the best choice. Does it even work with your world view? You have to value the work and the relationship while you are going through the process. Trust and partnering with a coach are truly the keys to success. You will be ready to work with a career coach when you are ready, on your time.

The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.
– Oprah Winfrey 

#3 – Decide to be present and intentional. In our world of mobile devices, overscheduling, and overcommitting, it is tough to carve out an hour a week for yourself. It’s even more challenging to devote the project time necessary to complete a job search.

Starting and committing to a job search will require you to be present. You will make conscious decisions about how to spend your time and energy wisely. It means adding 5 – 10 hours a week for job search tasks. This is on top of everything else going on in your life. The worst thing anyone can do is mindlessly answer job postings on the internet with no purpose.

Did I mention there is homework? Coaches know the juggling act you are trying to pull off. I personally won’t add to your burden unless I feel the homework is going to come with a big payoff for you. I can’t do my job without your input. However, you still have to factor in the time to get your assignments done.

I’m always going to ask for you to be present and focused on your calls. No driving during our scheduled sessions. No, “hey can I take this other call?” I think your time is important and you matter. You should too.

Article: 5 Steps for Being Present

#4 – Be willing to try new things. I feel that the biggest hesitation for my clients is the fear of trying something new. This means going out of one’s comfort zone. The second is general public speaking in interview settings. That said, more than the others, trying new things is the one that paralyzes people. I don’t think enough attention or support is given to people at the beginning of a job search, especially around this topic.

I’ve had many clients who have never had to look for a job before they came to me. Maybe they have been at the same company for fifteen years, or they have always been recruited by a colleague and now they have to actually look because of a layoff. Add in technology, ATS, internet recruiting, generational gaps, industry stereotypes, fear of interviews, fear of public speaking, fear of being too old, fear of being too young, scared to network…and the list just keeps going.

If you did not feel a little anxiety while reading that last paragraph, good for you. I had anxiety just writing it. Now think of the person who knows what they are doing is not working because they are not getting interviews. Maybe they also have fears around 2 or 3 things on that list. Next, add in a coach asking them to change how they ask questions, change how they answer in an interview, and persuade them to reflect on things they may not be quite ready to admit at 1:00 in the morning while they can’t sleep.

Add in a dash of “they have never worked with a coach before” and they have to build this new relationship. You have a perfect recipe for anyone to be paralyzed. It’s not easy.

Please think about what you are asking of yourself and be kind as you tackle new ideas, ways of being, and tasks in the job search. This can not be underestimated.

#5 – Be willing to be kind to yourself. Trust me when I say you are on the right track. You are going to shine in an interview. You will make it through the offer stage, your first day, the first 90 days, and be fulfilled in your new role. Your new job is going to be amazing!

I often ask my clients to put the search aside and go do something just for them. Part of being taking on a coaching relationship and being willing to do the research to know what you are getting into, committing to a partnership, deciding to be present, and trying new things. But it’s also knowing when you need a time out.

This is one of those “duh” articles, but I like it because the advice is simple and actionable: How to Be Kind to Yourself and Still Get Stuff Done

What Next?

The good news is you got through the blog. You now know a few things about how to get ready to work with a career coach.

It’s time to decide if you want to start calling coaches or go things alone. Either way, I’m here to help. Drop me a line, contact me through the website, schedule a new client consultation, or leave me a comment.

No matter what you choose it will be the right thing for you.

Good luck with your search,


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