Are Career Coaches Worth It?

Over the course of job searching, my confidence has gone through many ebbs and flows.

Some days I feel super confident, like when I felt good enough to turn down an offer. Other days I feel like the only thing I’m qualified to get paid for is donating my plasma.

In either case, my feelings are volatile and highly subjective. In hopes of anchoring my expectations to “reality”, I sought out an external sounding board: I hired a career coach.

I’ve hired a career coach in the past, to mediocre effect. My previous career coach didn’t have specific experience in tech and gave some generic resume advice, nothing I felt like I couldn’t get off of self-help articles I found online.

This round, though, I found a career coach with specific knowledge in tech recruiting and, let me tell you, the difference was like night and day. She gave me very targeted information about how to restructure my resume and LinkedIn for making a career change, which job boards are used for which section of the market, which recruiting firms and Meetups to target in my area, and what to ask and expect for compensation down to the company level which is a big f’ing deal and worth her advice for that point alone.

One major downside though is that career coaching is not cheap. I paid ~$200 for each session of coaching (about an hour each), though it also included some amount of prep time and follow up from my coaches. If they help me secure a job or avoid making a multi-thousand dollar mistake, though, the price seems incredibly worth it in comparison.

If ever I’m in this situation again in the future, or for others who might be, I would say career coaches are only worth it if they:

  • have experience recruiting in your specific industry of interest,
  • have knowledge of your regional job market,
  • have reviews and testimonials which indicate they can give specific and actionable advice, and
  • are of roughly the same generation / target demographic or otherwise have insight into career development for your cohort for things like, e.g. what can I expect for maternity?

Have you ever used a career coach? Did you feel it was worth the money?

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6 thoughts on “Are Career Coaches Worth It?

  1. I’ve never heard of a career coach, but I actually think it sounds super smart. Often times, there are problems with cover letters and resumes, and we’re too close to it to actually see it ourselves. How do you go about finding one? And how many sessions did you use? I’d say with all the things she helped you with, it’s totally a great investment.

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    1. I found both the mediocre and great coaches on TheMuse, just one session each. Both had questionnaires I filled out beforehand to make sure we were targeting high ROI areas for our actual conversation. Definitely an excellent investment if you can find a match.

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  2. I would definitely be open to it! So far I have managed to develop and pivot my career on my own but should I get stuck in future..

    I think my partner could benefit from it however .. he doesn’t have a career really. He’s just bounced around from random thing to random thing. So I think the help he needs would be of quite a specific sort and he probably needs to figure out a direction on his own first and then a coach might be able to help him get there.

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    1. I know there do exist coaches that help guide you toward the type of profession that would suit you, but rates are high enough that it’s more affordable to pick out the direction first then get more narrow advice. I’ve told my fiance though that if he finds a coach in his field, I would 100% support that assistance. Having an external motivator feels like it’d be useful in kicking his job search up a notch.

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  3. I think a career coach could definitely pay for itself, especially if time is limited and you have some sense of direction, but need a push. One of my friends who was discontent with her career path also went to a career therapist for a few sessions to help her identify where she wanted to go. It definitely paid for itself since she had been planning on starting a self-funded Master’s program with no clear career benefit. The discussions helped her find more contentment and eventually a better job.

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