Money·4 min read

Want to Take Your Career to the Next Level? Maybe You Should Hire a Coach

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Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
July 27, 2022

Whether you’re updating your resume or contemplating your next promotion, a career coach can be a valuable resource. Because a good one could help you speed up the process and get the salary you deserve. To learn more about what exactly a career coach does, we tapped two pros — Dr. Tega Edwin, creator of Her Career Doctor, and Ashley Stahl, author and host of the You Turn podcast — to find out.

Back up. What is a career coach?

Someone you can hire to help you level up your career no matter what stage you’re at. That means you can find a career coach to help you prepare for your next interview, create a strong resume, or switch career paths. What can’t a career coach do? All the work for you. They can teach you tips and strategies, but you’ll have to take the lead on your job hunt.

Oh, and while they are professionals, keep in mind that the career coaching space is not a regulated industry. Read: Specialized training isn’t required for the title. So it’s important to interview your potential career coach to make sure they have the know-how to help you reach your career goals.

How do I know when I need to hire a career coach?

Dr. Edwin says a career coach could help you at any point in your journey. “I think the way you know when you need one is when you’re not reaching your goals,”she explains. And Stahl says, the sooner you get help with your career, the better, because job hunting while desperate is a bad idea. “The best time to look for a job is when you don’t need a job,” she says.

Other signs you might want to hire a career coach:

  • You’re not feeling motivated in your current role.

  • You don’t feel fulfilled by the work that you’re doing.

  • You feel “stuck” in your current job.

  • You’re not sure what the next step in your career path is.

  • You want to switch industries, but you’re not sure where to start.

  • You’re applying for jobs, but not getting any responses.

  • You’re considering a career move.

  • You want a raise, but don’t know how to negotiate

Where do I find a career coach?

There are lots of different ways to find a good career coach. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is one good place to start. But don’t stop there.You can also ask your family and friends if they know a good coach. Or reach out to a local college or career office and ask for a referral. Psst…if you’re a college grad, there’s a good chance your alma mater can point you in the right direction. 

So many career coaches out there. How do I find the right one for me?

Both Dr. Edwin and Stahl agree it begins with your needs. And your budget. Because, remember, career coaching is not a regulated industry.Fees can range from $5 to over $1,000 per session, with an average between $75- $150 per session.

Ask yourself: Do you care about credentials? If so, look for someone who’s accredited. Example: ICF offers three levels of credentials for pros, based on how many hours of education and experience they’ve invested in their career coaching careers.

And don’t skip over reviews and testimonials from people they’ve coached in the past — they could help you confirm your new potential coach has a strategy that has worked for previous clients. 

Anything else I should keep in mind during my search?

Yes. Take advantage of free consultations to decide who’s right for the job. Ask about their coaching style and testimonials from previous clients.

Also, make a plan to reach a specific goal. Like scoring a raise, getting a certain number of interviews, landing a new job, or starting your own business. Or whatever goal feels right for you.

And remember: Career coaching is not usually a permanent relationship, unless you need more help to reach your next goal. So be clear with your new coach about what your goals are, when you’re hoping to reach them, and what will happen to your relationship after you do.


A career coach can be a great resource when you’re feeling stuck during your job search. Especially when it comes to the tough stuff, like interviews and negotiations. Just keep in mind they can only give guidance. You’re still in the driver’s seat.

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