How to talk to a career coach


From those just starting out in their careers through to executives, the benefits of coaching can help individuals to identify and develop their core strengths and eliminate liabilities. But how does one become coachable, or talk to a career coach?

To be coachable means to let go of your preconceived notions, listen and be open to learning. Those who seek coaching can get the most out of it by approaching the practice with the an open mind and an inquisitive attitude,” explains ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar.

“As the lifespan of skills continues to decrease and the ways we work continue to evolve due to technological advancements, dealing with a career coach continues to become increasingly important for employees across all sectors and industries.” Van den Barselaar provides some insights into some key questions one could ask a career coach.

What is a realistic timeline for change?

Meeting with a career coach means you have a goal in mind, whether it’s a specific role or overall skills development. At the outset, define when you want to accomplish this goal.

“You can always adjust later, if need be, but having a timeline in mind will help keep you on track and progressing,” explains van den Barselaar.

What’s the one thing I should focus on now?

When you want to improve, there’s a temptation to want to focus on developing everything at once. However, research shows that lasting change and improvement happens by narrowing your focus to specific core skills and achieving small wins consecutively.

Consult with your coach regarding where that focus should be first.

What other resources can help me?

No matter how skilled a career coach, they’re still only one person with a single perspective. That being said, you can derive further value from additional books, websites, networking groups and other resources that they introduce to you, which can continue your learning and growing – focusing on your specific goals.

What am I missing?

“This open-ended question could be the most valuable question you ask a career coach” explains van den Barselaar. Look for both the big and small skills and professional qualifications you’re missing, such as a flaw in your communication style that needs attention or experience with a certain program or online tool.

“The benefits of a having a career coach to talk to are numerous. On a personal level you can express concerns, talk through confidential subjects, show your vulnerabilities and learn to grow. To maximise the returns from a coach, come prepared to learn and you’ll go far,” concludes van den Barselaar.