June 14

Why you probably shouldn’t find a career coach near you (and what you should look for)


If you’re looking for a career coach, here’s why you shouldn’t do it. Before splashing more money on career coaching, or finding another free career service out there, stop.

Stop wasting your time or money.

Read this before you continue.

This article shares with you why you shouldn’t find a career coach near you and what you should be looking out for in potential coaches.

find a career coach near me
Some coaches can leave you feeling drained. Here’s what you should actually avoid.

My story

I love being coached and mentored. I’ve had many mentors in my life. They aren’t unhelpful. But in the current stage of my life searching for new roles, I’ve found them a complete waste of my time.

Advice is cheap to give, easy to make. Anyone can do it. Ask anyone for their advice, and they can spew everything that’s in their mind. There are very few who take the time to listen to what the issue is before they give advice.

I remember the first time I spoke to someone about my difficulties finding a job. Rather than take time to understand my personality, and where I was currently, she went on to tell me all the things I should do.

  • Get LinkedIn!
  • Apply for more jobs!
  • Network with more people

I have nothing against doing that. But that failed to take into account about the situation I was in, or whether there was any merit in getting a job.

What if a job wasn’t the most helpful thing for me now in this moment?

Would it still be worth getting a job?

Doing business now, I’ve met countless people and learnt how to tell quickly about whether they are worth my time, or are going to be a waste of my time.

find a career coach near me
Don’t waste your time with people who will make you feel worse about yourself.

When I trained as a social worker, I also learnt quickly how to size up clients that came through the door. I had to learn how to read their emotions, their facial expressions, their behaviours, and how to address that accordingly.

I hope these lessons would be helpful in supporting you in finding a career coach that suits you.

What you should be careful of

Before we tell you the qualities that you should look for, it’s vital that you are aware of potential red flags in the people you meet. I categorise them into 3 types of behaviors.

  1. Quick to advise
  2. Different socioeconomic backgrounds

Quick to advise

Have you tried…

These are the worst type of career coaches to work with.

Before understanding your situation, they ask you if you’ve tried XYZ. The problem with these coaches is that they often leave you feeling like you haven’t done enough. They also leave you little space to talk about what you’re currently facing.

Some coaches just talk too much.

These coaches can also leave you drained. They often leave you with a series of things to do, without properly acknowledging all the things you’ve already done.

These coaches are the worst to work with. Don’t waste your time with them.

Whilst some may say that it’s important to have practical coaches who give you steps to follow, coaches that often quickly suggest things for you to do might not be the best. They have yet to diagnose the situation, yet to understand what’s going on, and telling you this is akin to prescribing medications before actually understanding what your disease is.

Talking about something they have never achieved before

I had an auntie who used to give me a lot of advice. Until one day I realised she was talking about things she had never achieved before, and actually keeping a cap on my potential.

For example, she used to tell me about how I shouldn’t be starting my own business, because it was something I could always do later. My parents did the same, constantly questioning me about how far I could really sustain myself in business.

When you find a career coach, find people who have achieved the things you want to achieve. Looking for those who haven’t is bound to leave you dissatisfied as you realise they may end up pulling you down.

What then should you look for?

I’ve had the privilege of having a friend serve as one of my best coaches I’ve had (though he probably doesn’t see himself that way), and I will take this time to dissect why I think he’s been so helpful. I don’t think this means that you will be able to find such a coach, but I would encourage you to try. You may be surprised to find what you get.

career coaches near me
Maybe it’s time to retrench the coaches around you

Questions your core assumptions

When I was searching for a job, and getting deeply frustrated by all the rejections I was getting, my friend asked me,

Why are you bothering with a job when you were so unhappy with your previous one?

My core assumption at that time was that getting a job would make me happy – but it clearly didn’t.

Good coaches question your core assumptions and beliefs about the world. They ask you to probe more deeply into why you see the world in a certain way. They help you to see what’s truth, and what may be an assumption.

We don’t often realise the assumptions that we bring into our conversations. What we hold as truth may not necessarily be how someone else sees it. It may not be truth, but may simply be an opinion.

Here’s what I mean. Take for example this

Climbing up the corporate ladder and taking a bigger role is good.

It’s an assumption. Always getting promoted to your level of incompetence may not always be the best case for everyone. This is something that you may have to note. You may not even be ready for that position, nor have the strengths to excel in that position.

Find someone who’s unafraid to question your core assumptions.

Questions you, rather than telling you

Great coaches don’t assume they know the answers. They probably do, but I’ve often seen great coaches hold back on telling someone the answer they think is right, and would rather that their protege takes time to think through the answer for himself.

It’s how I coach others. Whenever a client brings me a problem, whilst I may have the answers, I don’t always give it. It was only recently that I realised how important that was.

Someone was telling me how he was thankful for the conversation we’d just had, and how he felt safe from being able to talk so honestly about what he was feeling. It made me wonder what I’d done to create that safe space.

Looking back, I realised that the complete absence of instructions had made it a safe space for the person to explore what he was going through, turning over and elucidating what he was thinking. Rather than cutting him by directing the conversation in a certain way, I realised that it was just as important to give him the space to work through the answers himself.

Great coaches show restraint and refrain. That’s very difficult to find. Often when you ask someone a question, they are quick to reply with an answer. But its not often they take time to think through a better question or structure for you to work out that answer for yourself.

Find those coaches. You will be surprised at their effect on you.

Why be coached?

If it’s so hard, why bother? I want to share with you the deepest story of transformation in my life from a coaching session.

During one time in my life, I was considering ending my life because it had gotten too painful for me to bear. I felt that I was getting nowhere. Working with my therapist, he knew at that time that I was struggling. Rather than leaving an open-ended structure for me to work within, he gave me clear instructions on what to do. He told me to write a letter of love to myself, and take time to read that out loud to myself.

Looking back, I realised that was a beautiful thing he did.

We continue to work together still today. But he instructs less, and asks more.

Great coaches know when to hold back, and when to push. They know when they need to step in, and when they can leave the person to do his best.

Those coaches are hard to find. Keep them when you find them.


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