Do you dread Monday mornings? … Are you envious of friends who seem to have a clear-cut career path? … Were you recently overlooked for a promotion – and can’t figure out why?

Perhaps you’ve heard of career coaching, but are unclear about what it really is — and how it could benefit you. Career coaching incorporates reflection, conversation and action. All three are essential to progress.

How Does Career Coaching Work?

While a tennis coach can help you refine your swing, increase the speed of your serve and improve your agility on the court, it’s up to you to win any given match. coaching is structured and individualizedIn the same vein, a career coach can help you:

  • Discover your best career fit
  • Transition to a new career
  • Advance in your current career
  • Establish a stronger personal brand
  • Improve your interviewing skills

The career coaching process is both structured and individualized.

A structured process involves using proven methods — assessments, proprietary exercises and even homework assignments — to help you develop an increased level of self-awareness.

Using an individualized approach, you and your coach can adjust the process according to your situation and needs. In order to be effective, it is highly interactive. While you know yourself best, you may have blind spots you never knew existed. A career coach can help you dig below the surface, tapping into your unique potential.

How Does Career Coaching Compare to Therapy?

Therapy can be an alternative to career coaching — but the two can also be very complementary. Therapy typically focuses on your past in order to better understand your current thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Coaching doesn’t ignore your past — after all, it’s part of who you are and how you got here — but its focus is on the present and on the steps you can take to create your best possible future.

develop strategies for job transitionCareer coaching and therapy often work well in tandem. Therapy can be very effective in helping identify root cognitive, emotional and behavioral issues that may be holding you back from securing or enjoying a satisfying career.

With expertise in workplace dynamics, career coaching can help you learn and develop specific strategies for career transition or advancement. A coach with a strong background in psychology, neuroscience or human behavior can help you address specific emotional issues that might impact your career.

Why Can’t I Do It On My Own?

Because we live in a DIY era, many people turn to online assessments, thinking they’ll provide “the answer.” While they can provide interesting insights, these types of tests usually aren’t individualized, nuanced or comprehensive enough to provide you with a deep level of understanding on their own.

It’s also important to note that there is a wide range when it comes to online tests — from their validity and reliability to the breadth and depth of insight they offer.

When Is the Right Time to See a Career Coach?

make a change in your careerOne day, you wake up and wonder if you made the right career choice. Your accounting career is stable, but you feel stuck and unfulfilled. You wonder what it would be like to be a meteorologist.

While a career coach can help you contemplate a large-scale career shift, they can also help you identify smaller-scale changes. Maybe you’re in the right career, but at the wrong company. Perhaps you are sabotaging your own success in ways you hadn’t realized.

Fear — of failure, change, upsetting others, etc. — often keeps us stuck. Doing nothing is always an option. It’s usually a safe one, but not always the most productive one.

Taking a small step is often all it takes to set you on a different, more productive path toward your goals. Working with a career coach often results in making a change — to a new job, company or career. Sometimes, though, the shift is an internal one: You stay in your current job, company or career, but you change. Your new perspective leads to a greater sense of fulfillment, increased self-confidence and higher energy levels.

Stuck in the wrong career - four steps to get unstuck