Rebecca Hawk is the product manager for ASAE Business Services, Inc.
Working at an association often means you get used to wearing many hats and being resourceful. But when it comes to your career, sometimes it’s better to seek outside help than to go it alone. A professional career coach can help you gain perspective and give you objective, constructive feedback—no matter what your next steps are.
No matter how independently you might operate within your organization, you’ve likely encountered a career challenge that warranted asking for help. Sometimes a trusted colleague or mentor can offer you feedback or guidance. (Learn more about how mentoring and career coaching compare here.) But there are a few scenarios in which you might benefit from a more structured approach to problem solving—and that’s where a career coach can play a role.
Career coaching tends to be most beneficial when it’s used to reach specific goals, and a job search is a major one. A career coach can help you identify ways to make yourself a stronger candidate, from pinpointing skills gaps to illuminating a behavior that might set you back in interviews.
If you are about to embark on a job hunt, a career coach can help you prepare the necessary materials—from your resume to your cover letter and LinkedIn profile—and create an action plan.
Or, if you’re already in the midst of a job search and finding that you’re not hearing back from employers—or you’re getting to the interview stage but not receiving any offers—you might benefit from the objective perspective a coach can bring.
If you feel stuck and are unable to decide on what to do next, a coach can help you reflect on your career and identify a path forward. While a colleague or supervisor might be able to offer advice on your career options, their perspective will likely be limited to the scope of your association.
A career coach, on the other hand, can help you identify strengths and skills, including those that might fall outside of the work you’re doing daily. Many career coaches use personality or strengths assessments to help their clients get a better sense of their preferences and traits and use those to inform their next steps.
Perhaps you’re new to management and having trouble adjusting to the new dynamic with your colleagues. Or you might be feeling some tension with your team and aren’t sure how to address it. In instances where discussing your issue with a colleague might create awkwardness or additional tension, working with a career coach can give you an outlet to voice your concerns, while allowing you to take a step back from the situation and create a strategy for dealing with the problem productively.
Whether you’re shifting from one role to another or thinking about changing sectors, a career pivot can be both exciting and disorienting. A career coach can help you identify transferable skills and guide you through the transition.
Working with a career coach is typically a bit of an investment in terms of your time and finances, but many professionals find that it helps them clarify their priorities and create a plan to reach their goals. For the situations outlined above, a career coach can provide valuable, objective feedback—and give you the tools you need to build the career you want.