The Truth About Career Coaches

What career coaches can – and can't – do for you

by Richard Eisenberg • Next Avenue

Laura Drury, of Denver, credits career coach Carol Ross for helping steer her through rough employment waters not once, but twice.

In 2007, Drury was a successful software-development director but didn't feel challenged at work "and I wasn’t sure what to do next.” After a series of coaching sessions with Ross, a former engineer, Drury gained the courage to switch careers, leading to a post as chief operating officer at a church. Then when Drury got laid off in 2009, she hired coach Ross again and both decided that a return to the software field was the best next step. Today, Drury heads up IT software asset management at CenturyLink, a national telecom firm. “Carol gave me the perspective to look at things a different way and more confidence in my skills,” says Drury.

How a Coach Can Help You
A career coach can be an ideal adviser if you’re stuck in a job rut, unemployed, eager to try a new field, or want to repackage yourself for prospective employers. In today’s economy, when the average length of time it takes to find a job is 41 weeks, such a pro can be a valuable partner.

Trouble is, career coaching is largely an unregulated industry, so finding a stellar pro takes some doing. “Any idiot can put up a sign saying, ‘I’m a career coach,’” says Rob Sullivan, a Chicago-based coach and author of Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Don’t Have a Leg to Stand On. Indeed, the site boasts “you can start career coaching and become a career coach immediately.”

Photo courtesy of pan_kung/

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