Career coaches are a dime a dozen these days. In my opinion the field is being overly saturated simply because people think it’s an easy way to make some quick money. Some people assume that you can just proclaim yourself a career coach, start a website, write a few posts on LinkedIn, and the clients will just start to overflow your inbox or voicemail. I am contacted all the time from people who are looking to become career coaches. One of the very first questions they usually ask is “do you get a steady stream of clients? “. This is the wrong question. A better question would be centered around how to learn the profession. I didn’t know that I loved career coaching and resume writing until about 5 years ago. I like to say that I fell into the profession. I’ve always had a passion for helping others, but I had no idea what area I would help people in. Once I got into workforce development and higher education in career services I found a perfect match for my interests and skills.
I absolutely love the idea of helping to improve a person’s quality of living, not only for them, but for their family as well. My goal is to help find career happiness. So when people come to me saying they want assistance becoming a career coach, I am extremely interested in learning their motivation.
I am not a man that is motivated by money, I love helping others. And while it is not my job to question the ethics of other career coaches or resume writers, I have seen astronomical prices for services. Yes, I understand that in an ideal world you get what you pay for, and career development professionals have to account for the amount of training they put into their craft. Nevertheless, $600 for resume services is insane to me. Along those same lines, charging $100 to answer questions is a bit ridiculous as well. For those people who truly have a passion for helping others and changing lives, here are a few tips to help you in your endeavor to become a great career coach.
1. Get Practical Experience: I have seen many people saying they are a career coach or resume writer but lack the practical experience to really help clients. If you are truly interested in helping others in their career, you will have to develop your own skills by actually working with clients. I recommend getting an entry-level job in a career services, or a workforce development setting. Consider an environment where the staff believes in professional development and have proven results of helping people find meaningful careers. For me career services allows for more practical experience and you are held accountable for helping people find jobs, especially in the for-profit arena. In my current position there are metrics that you must meet, so you have to be proactive when working with clients. In my personal experience, I learned much more from my time in higher education than I did in workforce development. Most workforce development organizations are non-profit and work under grant funded money. Instead of really being held accountable for helping people find meaningful careers, they’re usually tied up in meeting the qualifications to keep the grant money coming in, which usually is based on the amount of people who visit the facilities as opposed to people securing jobs. Most often than not, these types of organizations are understaffed and usually don’t have enough counselors to meet and work with people on a one-on-one basis, most things are done in group settings.
2. Professional Development: Whenever you enter into a field there will be a learning curve. But entering into a profession where you are responsible for empowering people with your knowledge requires you to be prepared to learn. This is actually one of the most enjoyable parts of career coaching to me since I love learning and like to teach others. You have to read a lot on things taking place in the field since it constantly changes. Join career development organizations and meet other industry professionals to collaborate. There are real benefits of joining organizations and earning certifications. You get to network with industry professionals, read members only publications and certifications provide credibility amongst potential clients. No matter what profession you choose you have to be willing to push yourself to get better at your craft and that starts with professional development. Research emerging trends, attend workshops and webinars, read related articles, participate in trainings, and invest in certifications. Certifications can be pretty expensive and there are many organizations that offer them, be sure to research the organizations offering the certifications to be sure they are up to date on the latest information and that you will actually learn from what is offered. Try not to get frustrated if you can’t afford certifications when you first enter the field, just create a list of the ones you are interested in. Always keep in mind that certifications don’t necessarily mean that you are not good at what you do. I was good at resume writing before getting certified. Some people are certified and their resumes are horrendous.
3. Save Some Money For Your Business: If you plan to start a business as a career coach or resume writer, save your money for your future effort. Professional development, websites, attending conferences and networking events, marketing and advertising, all of these things cost money. Even if you plan to never have a brick and mortar building, there are still costs associated with running an online business.
4. Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Original Intent: You were led to career coaching and resume writing because you wanted to help others, not to try and make a ton of money or to obtain fame. Don’t get certifications with intentions of tripling your prices just because you can. I write about career related topics because I love teaching, and helping others. Some write solely to increase brand awareness. They crank an article a day. I write when I feel it’ something that people can benefit from. If you have a blog that you maintain you want to be consistent when posting, however meaningful articles that will enhance a person’s job search should be the primary goal. Don’t feel the pressure to increase your visibility and try to keep up with others. Instead share things that speak to your approach and the type of people you are looking to work with and you will attract people that are excited to work with you.
5. Find Your Niche: There are thousands of career coaching and resume writing services in business. I believe it’s due to the factors I mentioned above. It’s a trend. People think they will make a lot of money really fast, and be able to work from home. With the market being flooded with so many people providing the same services, you must find a way to stand out from others. Find out what population you love to work with and market your product to people who are aligned with your approach. Don’t follow the crowd, and try to do what other people are doing, always be yourself.
6. Learn to Say No: When you work in the helping profession, there will always be people who want you to help them. Primarily for free. I love helping people and sometimes my heart gets me into trouble. It’s very hard for me to see someone in need of help and not offer it. The problem occurs when people try to take advantage of your kind nature. Some family members, friends, and complete strangers think that you have an obligation to work for them for free. If you allow it you will become overwhelmed pretty quickly. People are constantly asking me about resume help. The truth is that, even looking over a document takes a lot of time, so does sending a response. You must learn to say no, or refer them to your website, even if they are family or friends. I am guilty of wanting to help people, and when I first got into the profession, it was very hard to charge family members, but I learned quickly that people will take advantage of you if you let them. There have been people that I knew could use my help that couldn’t afford to pay me, so I helped them. However, I knew their situation, and willingly offered my services.
7. Be Patient: Just because you get a website and announce that you are a career coach, does not mean that clients will begin to fall out of the sky seeking help. You have to be patient, slowly building your business and brand. This is the reason that saving money is very important to your businesses success. You will need money for your website, SEO, professional development, and possibly travel expenses depending on the scope of your business. There are large companies who have budgets for marketing, and teams of coaches and resume writers. They may also have highly sought after blogs that attract job seekers to their company. When I first started my business, I thought the sign that my business was growing was to gain a ton of clients. But I learned that instead of having any client, I would rather work with people who like my approach to coaching, resume writing, and training. I work best with people who are interested in finding career success. I don’t work with people who are only looking to find a job. I am all about meaningful careers. When I get people who are only interested in a job, I refer them to people who work best with that population. Figure out what success means for you and your company and work your plan until you reach your goals. But remember you must be patient, it won’t come over night.
I hope that if you are interested in the career development field you find these tips helpful. I am very passionate about protecting the integrity of people who really love the field and actually like helping people find career success. So if you want to enter the field, be prepared to get to work, and be sure you have a genuine desire to help others.