Anyone used a career/life coach?

I’d love to hear people’s experiences, positive and negative. What were you hoping to get out of it, what if anything did you actually get out of it, did you eventually find something else that gave you what you were looking for?

I’m curious too. A friend of mine was a high level manager at Intel and then quit to become a career/life coach. I never knew how that job worked out because he and his wife soon moved out of state. So yeah, curious.

My Wife did a, I guess, life coach type thing. She went a few times after she couldn’t get over her brothers death. Sometimes you just need someone other than family/friends to unload some weight on I guess.

Hurt a little bit because I’m always there for her, but I understand.

Isn’t that more of a therapist than a life coach?

I’m a little unclear on the distinction myself. I understand that therapists have to meet certain educational and licensing requirements, whereas anyone can call themselves a life coach, but beyond that?

I’m not really sure if this was a licensed therapist or um… life coach. I think my Wife just had to have someone disconnected to talk to about things. She had quit her job of 30 years (new boss was, is, a total ass, nearly a quarter of the office left) and then her brother died. Some big life changes.

For myself, talking to a stranger about difficulties is not my way. For some, it is.

Kind of funny story, my Wife was admiring some prints in the coaches office, and the coach said that she had another set of the exact same prints still boxed up. Amazon (or whomever) double shipped. She gave them to my Wife, no strings attached. They are very nice, work great in our home.

I tried two different career coaches about 2 years ago. They were recommended by two different friends.

I didn’t find either particularly useful. They had like these fuzzy “assess your skills and interests” templates. They introduced me to a few of their contacts as well as their professional resume writer and espoused the power of “networking”.

Similarly, when my job last year laid us off due to COVID-19, part of the severance package was 3 free months with a professional placement/career coaching agency. Similarly, it was a lot of bullshit webinars about “networking” and “building your personal brand”.

My impression of all these people were that they were mid-level managers in investment banks or (in the case of the coaching agency) ex film and tv media people who left their careers to make a living coaching people career stuff.

At the end of the day, I didn’t find any of them particularly “useful”. I mean how could they be? We each met for probably 3-4 hours total and they are going to alter the trajectory of a 25 year career? They aren’t going to be able to help someone pick a specific industry or provide deep insight for landing a job in that field.

I know someone who tried to make a go of being a life coach a few times. It worked for a couple of her customers but basically, they all moved on. Some could call that successful results, but one just felt she was recruiting him for her projects.

I can see where a life coach is a great idea for a person who isn’t good at doing things for themselves (such as myself). I do much better when I am accountable to someone else for getting things done. When I am accountable only to me, I haven’t done as well. I have a friend whom I share accountability with for things like getting exercise, creating and following our own to-do lists, etc. Whatever helps.

So if I want to get ahead in my career, a life coach would be someone to whom I would report career-related activities. Did I sign up for the class about increasing a certain skill? Did I successfully delegate a task that really should be handled by one of my team instead of by me? Did I join that professional organization and then volunteer to give a speech/demonstration/be part of the membership team?

Coaches can also serve as a sounding board for new ideas or proposals. You want to start a business but don’t know how to make a plan? Don’t know how to determine if it is feasible? Coaches can help with that stuff. But before hiring a coach, interview them to be sure you are actually getting someone who has know -how about what you want them for. Get references and check them out, too. Coaches aren’t cheap, but they can help and not just cheer you on.

A life coach is somebody who helps you develop goals, such as career goals, and then helps you identify ways of reaching those goals. In my very limited experience, they use the Socratic method fairly heavily.

It takes a certain knack for figuring out what sort of questions to ask, in order to make somebody really think about what they want to do and how to achieve it.

I had a guy try to be my life coach.

Everyone says I’m the opposite of cynical, but after a platitude/positivity/cheerleading session, I became extremely cynical, and told him I’d had enough.

I think that might be more of a “mentor” than a “life coach”. Someone who can guide you on your career path.

And I think a “life coach” is more broad - like they help you with things like your relationships or whatever.

I feel like I kind of need more of a “mentor” than a “career coach”.

Well, Life Coaches come in all flavors, so do mentors. Oftentimes, a mentor is a manager or executive at your workplace who takes an interest in helping you. I’m not sure how to find one.

Dopers, can we help msmith?

Let’s try. @msmith537

What type of career coaching are you looking for?
You mentioned a 25-year career. What has your career been in?

I also got a number of career counselling sessions when I was let go from a job ten years ago. At the first session, they gave me a “Finding a Job for Dummies”-type book and told me to fill out the worksheets in the book. I looked through the book and I was unimpressed, so I never went back for a second session.

Five years before that, I voluntarily went to a different career counsellor (included under the company’s health plan) and took a career aptitude test. The results came back along the lines of “your answers are inconsistent and so we can’t give you any results; try taking the test again”. :roll_eyes:

I don’t know. Being a “business person” LOL. I’m like one of these guys who gets an MBA, and then jumps around to various consulting firms, tech startups, management jobs in large companies. Usually in some sort of “engagement manager” or “project manager” role.

I’ll tell you what I don’t want:

  • I don’t want advice on “networking”. I know how to network. I also know it’s not really about having some nth degree contact on LinkedIn submit your resume to HR.
  • I don’t want to hear about starting a “side hustle”. I’m not interested in becoming a “career coach” or start an energy drink company on the side.
  • Similarly I am not interested in suggestions to “start my own company / contract”. I have a hard enough time with the resources of an entire global company behind me, let alone doing it by myself.
  • I don’t want to hear about “building my online brand”. I have a pretty good LinkedIn profile. I am not going to start “blogging” or regularly posting online content. That’s just bullshit that people who live by LinkedIn tell you to do in order to generate more buzz for them on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t ask me “have you tried XYZ company?” unless followed by “…because I know the managing director of this group that’s hiring”. Demonstrating to me that you have a cursory knowledge of the sort of companies I work for isn’t helpful.

I don’t know. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I think the best sort of coach is to find people who do what I want to be doing in a few years and get a sense for what they did to get there.

It sounds like you need to talk to a couple of recruiters about what people are looking for. Or hiring managers. That is where networking comes in, of course.

So what you really are after is “are there any classes I need to take to make my resume more visible” or possibly take a career choice course, without the bells and whistles. The local unemployment office might be able to help you. Here in Minnesota, you don’t even have to be unemployed to be eligible to take the classes. Just being someone who wants to find a new job, whether or not they have one currently, will get you into the classes. I don’t know what it is like in your state.

I’ve been thinking about getting a mentor. But it seems only quite senior managers get them whereas I’m more middle management in my industry. …although the mentor might explain why those people are higher up than me.

@msmith537 I think a good mentor should be someone who helps you to refine in your own mind what goals you want to achieve and then helps and motivates you to work efficiently towards those goals. Sometimes an outside perspective just gives you the space to actually spend time planning and thinking about their career. How many of us actually put real time aside to plan their career except when actively looking for a job?

I should clarify this. I don’t mean a resume class but a class (or a certification) on a specific subject that will raise your profile.

I have been fortunate enough to have had a couple of people I considered mentors. People whose advice I knew and respected and would answer my questions honestly.

I have done the same for a handful of junior folks I have hired and helped do bigger and better things. Most importantly we’ve all been in the same industry and had a working relationship.

If you have worked with people whose work philosophy and judgement you respected, they will generally give you good feedback and things to consider.

However do not expect full on “life coaching”; they’ll be much more focused so you should be as well. And respectful of their time.

Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, continuing education is important. For a previous job search I obtained an AWS certification and completed several Udemy courses on big data and Hadoop. I think that definitely helped me land a job at an enterprise cloud software company. has some great courses by the way and they cost almost nothing.

But I’m really more at an “executive” level. Which means that I’m not really hired for a collection of “skills” I can just acquire in a few weeks through on online course. Or if I am hired for skills, it would be because I have demonstrated 5-10 years of using them.

I suppose I’m less interested in what “people” are looking for as I am in figuring out what I am looking for.