4 signs it's time to hire a career coach

How to tell if you need professional support.

4 signs it's time to hire a career coach

Career coaches can help employees and job-seekers with a wide variety of work-related challenges: writing resumes and cover letters, targeting job searches, finding ways to develop careers and more. Some will provide ongoing support during a difficult time at work, while others are more focused on helping clients achieve a specific goal, such as finding a new job, polishing a resume or improving soft skills.

“I've been using a coach for several years now, and honestly, it is the only reason why I am still alive,” says Mathew Heggem, CEO of SUM Innovation. “This coach was able to help me tackle much of my anxiety, part of which stemmed from a disconnect between my personal goals, what I was passionate about, and the day-to-day responsibilities of being a CEO.”

Career coaches’ rates vary with the services they provide, and they tend to charge by the hour like a consultant, counselor or therapist. Although it’s not cheap, it can be worth it.

“A great coach can help you to achieve balance in your life, find ways to unravel your patterns, and discover new ways of thinking about who you are in work and in the world,” Heggem says.

Some of the signs you could use a career coach include frustration, anxiety, fear, unhappiness and unhealthy behaviors, such as not sleeping or eating well, Heggem says. Here are some other signs hiring a career coach could help your career.

You feel unfulfilled

If you’re asking yourself “how did I get here?” about your career, it may be time to talk to a coach, says Cheryl Hunter of The Hunter Group. Other similar signs: “You long to change careers or roles within your own company, but you’re either not sure how to do that — or you sell out for the security of your current position or job, despite the fact that you feel like it’s soul-sucking.”

You don’t know who to trust

“The workplace landscape is often very political, which can make it difficult to know who is truly on your side,” Hunter says. “A career coach can be just that person for you: someone who has your back and is committed to your best interests without serving their own agenda.” Someone outside the situation can help you find new perspectives on challenges as well.

You’ve been job-hopping without direction

“The most obvious sign that you need a career coach is the inability to maintain employment in the same position,” says Jason Dukes, founder of Captains Chair Coaching. If you are on the bad end of a layoff every 8 to 12 months, your work ethic or performance may be to blame.

You’re not advancing

If you have held the same position for two or three years and have been passed over for a promotion several times, it might be time to take a look at yourself, Dukes says. It’s easy to blame your employer for your personal failures, but it’s only OK do so after you’ve taken a long, hard look at what you might be doing to derail your own success. A coach can help uncover what's really holding you back.