Readers sometimes write to express their frustrations with career coaches, consultants and counselors.
To be sure, there are some pretty awful career coaches out there. But often if you are not getting results, you can consider these reasons.
(1) You insisted on an “affordable” coach.
Every so often I get an email from a reader who describes an odyssey through a series of career coaches. Inevitably there’s one who stands out. “He was really good,” they’ll say. “I actually got results. But he was so expensive!”
Alas, with career coaching you usually get what you pay for. Low-end coaches will either be inexperienced or naive about marketing. Experienced coaches charge $150 – $300 an hour, at the lower end if you’re scheduling multiple calls.
Occasionally you’ll luck out: an inexperienced coach charges very little and turns out be truly amazing. Not typical, but it does happen.
(2) You told the coach you didn’t have much money and could only afford a session or two. Or maybe you could only afford the free call.
Good coaches do not want you to sacrifice to get coaching. If you resent paying the fees, or if you struggle to pay fees, you will resent your coach. When you’re worried about putting food on the table, you can’t change careers. You need to get past survival.
The purpose of a free call is not to get started on career change. Coaches and consultants use the free call to see if you’re a good fit for each other. If a coach says, “I don’t think I can help you; I wouldn’t know where to start,” he is probably being honest. Ideally, he would recommend a resource but he may not know the best coach for you. In fact, you’re better off looking on your own: your coach might refer you to someone he’s connected with.
Second, it’s, appropriate for a coach to say, “I don’t agree with what you are asking me to do. You want a new career; I think you need to focus on your current career.”
By way of analogy, suppose you want plastic surgery. Your plastic surgeon could say, “I will not do this; I do not feel the benefit outweighs the risk.” Or she might even say, “I think you want this surgery for the wrong reason and I won’t do it.”
(3) You worked with a coach through your company’s outplacement services.
Often outplacement coaches are competent and well-trained. But their job is to get you placed as quickly as possible. Your company didn’t hire them out of kindness. Your employer wants to cut back on employment compensation payments and send you off with a case of the warm fuzzies. So if you start talking about a long-term career change, you’ll gently be discouraged. If you’re at a level where you get outplacement, chances are you can get a job much faster in your current industry. They’re doing the math.
Sometimes outplacement coaches get a flat fee for each client. In that case, they’re motivated to reduce the hours they spend with you. If you are serious about a career change, try to negotiate for dollars to spend with the career coach of your choice. It’s often not possible but worth a try.
(4) You chose a career coach who features testing.
If you’ve been working awhile, the tests almost always show you are perfectly suited to the job you have now. Learn more here.
(5) You don’t have enough time or energy for a career change.
Career change takes a lot of time and there’s quite a bit of work involved.
Recently a lawyer called me about a career change consultation. I told him that I’d be happy to work with him (unless he prefers a coach who specializes in lawyers’ career change), but he would have to consider his calendar. If he’s working 80 or 90 hours a week, I don’t know when we will have time to talk…much less how he can explore new careers.
Similarly, if you’ve got family obligations, you have to carve out time to do the work involved. A coach can save you time but you’ll still need to do the research and interview for information.
Coaches don’t want to work with clients who can’t do the work, even if they get paid handsomely. It’s too frustrating and of course rarely leads to referrals and success stories. So you may be guided gently with, “Maybe you don’t need a career change just now.”
My consulting services are available here. I usually work with single sessions, although you get a really good rate for three. Most people get questions answered and are ready to move on quickly, so you’re not tied up with a long monthly arrangement.
Interesting ideas! It will be interesting to hear from others. Re outplacement, I did say, “Chances are…” Outplacement counselors tend to play the odds. I also agree with your point about free calls which is why I don’t offer them. Thanks for your enthusiasm!