Career Coach or Executive Coach?

Updated: Apr 16



Is it just me or does it seem like today everyone has a career coach - or maybe you call it an “executive coach”, “life coach”…I had a therapist. Does that count? I guess that’s not in anymore. Here’s what’s interesting, as I researched career coaching, I learned that they really are a combination of a therapist or counselor - and someone who coaches you in your career. Kind of cool right?


So who needs a Career Coach and Why?


In this current climate, the data shows unemployed workers at 10 million (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics: U.S. Department of Labor) and probably even more than that who would like to leave their current job. For these people, the challenge of seeking a new job, in this climate can be overwhelming. For many, it’s not just about looking for a new job, it’s about looking for the right job. If there’s one thing many of us have learned over the past year during the pandemic, it is what’s really important. Going in to a job daily, working long hours, in a stressful environment, can be a really good reason to seek out a career coach to help you sort through what you want to do, where your talents lie and how to figure out the next career.


Some people love their career and they seek out a career coach or executive coach to help them get to the next level. An executive coach can help you not only on the business side of goal setting, leadership, etc., but they can help with what they call your soft skills. How you interact with your colleagues, problem solve and manage your work. People skills. So important once you get to an executive leadership level.

For myself personally, I turned to an executive coach to help me figure out what I termed “Julanne 2.0”. I have been in marketing my whole life and love it. What I wasn’t sure of was what part of marketing did I want to focus on and what clients. I actually met with a few coaches until I found one that worked well with my personality and seemed knowledgeable and an expert in their field.

The first executive coach I met with charged me $150 for our initial 50-minute consultation. During that time, not once, but twice, he asked to be excused from the Zoom meeting to give his dog water. I’m sorry, but at $150/hour I expect you to give me an hour of your undivided attention. If Fido gets dehydrated in that amount of time you should probably think about hiring a dog sitter…just my two cents. So my search continued.


I eventually found a really good executive coach for myself and here’s what I liked. He spent time poking around in my brain to help me uncover where I had been and where I want to be. I’ve taken personality tests, strength tests, leadership tests. I’m so dialed into me, my strengths and weaknesses that one of my career paths right now could easily be writing my own memoir! But honestly, they really were helpful. Helped me learn that my strengths can also be perceived negatively to some colleagues. Brain fry right?


Some key points that helped me and may help you:

  • Write your own mission/vision statement.

  • Self-care. Schedule time to take care of you.

  • Goals. Duh, write your goals and a plan of how to get there. Break your main goals down into mini goals.

  • Due Diligence. Do your due diligence when researching new career opportunities. Research the company, the people, to make sure their values and integrity match with yours.

  • Service. Do you want to carve out time for service work?

  • Strengths. What are your strengths? What are your gifts? Shouldn’t you share those gifts? It’s easy to fear change, trying something new. Think of it this way, you owe it to share those gifts with others.

  • Skills. What are your skills? technical? transferrable (soft or interpersonal)?teamwork, conflict resolution, leadership, finance, marketing, professional development, IT, etc.


Some of the homework above may be a good place to start before meeting with a coach but honestly, a good coach will work through all of that with you. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. It’s a bit like finding a good physician or therapist. You get referrals and then do your research on them. Some may offer a free initial consultation. LinkedIn is also a good resource.


Career coach, executive coach or therapist?

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