Are you thinking of becoming a career coach?
Perhaps you’re an experienced coach and have decided you’d like to specialise in career coaching, or maybe you have never done any coaching before.
Recently, I’ve been contacted by more and more people asking for advice on how to get into career coaching. As this is quite a niche area, it can be hard to find information about training courses available or the best way forward to transition into this career. So, I’ve written this blog post as a resource to help anyone who might need information on this.
The advice I’m sharing is based on my own personal experience of becoming a career coach and building my career coaching business. There are, of course, other ways of becoming a career coach. If you’ve come across useful sources that haven’t been included in this post, this isn’t a reflection on their quality. It’s simply because I might not have encountered them personally or be aware of them.
The different types of career coaching
The first decision you’ll be called to make is what type of career coach you’d like to be. There are different areas of career coaching you can specialise in, and they broadly fall into three categories (though these can often overlap):
- Helping people to get their next job.
- Supporting people to make a career transition.
- Coaching people to succeed in the role they’re in.
Let’s take a look at each of these categories in more detail and some of the training options that you might want to consider. Whether you decide to take additional qualifications or not will largely depend on your previous experience, your existing qualifications, and your own preference for the length and intensity of the course.
- Helping people to get their next job
- Supporting people in making a career transition
- Coaching people to succeed in their current role
- Other training courses
- Useful groups and events
- Help becoming a successful career coach
Helping people to get their next job
Often a result of redundancy, in the business world, this is called ‘outplacement support’. However, many people who offer this service choose to call themselves career coaches, rather than ‘outplacement specialists’. This type of career coach will typically give advice and practical support around getting a new job.
The advice often includes CV support, interview coaching, LinkedIn help and job search tips. On top of being able to offer practical support, you need to be confident at helping people through what is often a very upsetting and challenging time for them.
You may choose to offer this service to private clients who book with you directly, or you might want to be booked by companies that are looking for support for their staff when they are making redundancies.
Helping people to get their next job – training options
From experience, I find that a lot of talented ex-Recruiters, ex-HR professionals, and Careers Advisers (who have worked in schools, colleges, and universities) successfully decide to become career coaches with a view to helping people get their next job.
If you have experience in the industry but don’t yet have any coaching qualifications, this can be a great entry point into the career coaching profession. Having worked in the industry means you have the knowledge (gained through invaluable real-life experience) of what makes a successful CV and interview, for example. This means that, as a career coach, you can be an excellent resource to your clients.
Career coach training
Speaking from personal experience, while I had a solid grounding in knowing the practical aspects around CVs, interviews, and job search methods thanks to my HR and recruitment background, I found that obtaining the relevant qualifications helped me with the more emotional side of the job and made me feel more confident in my own role and ability as a coach. The training taught me that often the best way of helping the person in front of me is to ask them the questions that will lead to them finding their own answers (instead of just telling them what I think they should do, or sharing my own opinions).
I have a Masters degree in Human Resources Management, which means I have a good understanding of employment law and as part of the degree I wrote a dissertation on how companies can best handle redundancies. This definitely helps me when working with companies in supporting their employees with getting new roles following redundancies. However, it certainly isn’t an essential requirement if you are thinking of getting additional qualifications to help you.
CCS Core Skills Course in Career Coaching & Counselling: The first career-related course I took is now called The CCS Core Skills Course in Career Coaching & Counselling (run by CCS – Career Counselling Services) and is accredited by the Association for Coaching. It was an absolutely brilliant course at introducing me to the essentials of coaching. It also taught me how to use a number of coaching tools specifically created for supporting clients with making career decisions and coping with career transitions and endings. This course is a good option for you whether you’re an experienced coach already or haven’t had any previous training.
Once you successfully complete the course, you are licensed to use the tools with your own clients. The course doesn’t cover any of the practical issues such as CV, interview, and LinkedIn support though. So, if you don’t already have these skills and want to offer your clients support in these areas, you’ll have to find other ways of developing your knowledge and expertise.
Supporting people in making a career transition
There are lots of different types of career transitions that people ask for help with, including:
- Changing career.
- Returning to work after a career break (including maternity leave).
- Coping with redundancy.
My Career Change Coaching programme is the most popular service out of all the services I offer to individual clients. I’ve put it together based on a combination of what I learnt from my training and other successful ideas and resources I’ve tested out with clients over the years.
When people decide they would like support with a career transition, they’ll often turn to a coach after trying to make a decision on their own and not succeeding. If you’re thinking about offering this type of support, coach training can be very helpful. This is because these transitions often evoke strong emotions that can’t always be tackled with logic alone.
Fear and indecision can be powerful factors that hold clients back in their decision-making process. So having coaching skills will allow you to help them explore their thoughts, ideas, options, and feelings. You’ll also be able to offer accountability and support when moving forward feels difficult.
You don’t necessarily need to have a background in HR, Recruitment or Careers Advice to provide this type of coaching. After all, it’s up to you whether you want to include practical support with things like CVs, interviews, etc. Personally, I found that for most of my clients, this isn’t the type of support they’re looking for when changing careers. What they do want is confidence in making a decision they can happily move forward with.
Supporting people in making a career transition – training options
Career Counselling Services (CCS): I mentioned in the ‘helping people to get their next job’ section that the CCS Core Skills Course in Career Coaching & Counselling (accredited by the Association for Coaching) is excellent and is the course that I completed. It is a great way of learning how to support people faced with a career transition. The course is open to you whether you have no prior coach training, or if you are already an experienced coach.
Firework coaching programme: If you’re already an experienced coach (and have completed a different type of coach training before), the Firework coaching programme has developed a good reputation as a specialist course for training coaches in tools and techniques to support clients through career transition (including career change). Completing the course gives you ICF (International Coach Federation) Continuing Coach Education Credits.
Coaching people to succeed in their current role
Typically, I’ve found that people who would like to have this type of support are either already in a senior role, or they are trying to step up into a more senior role.
Some of the many things I’ve been asked to support clients within this area include:
- Coping with a challenging person who reports into them.
- Coping with a demanding boss.
- Handling political games taking place in the office.
- Building confidence in themselves (particularly when they’ve just transitioned into a new role, often a more senior one).
- Managing a team effectively.
- Coping with a high workload or getting a better work-life balance.
- Working out how to progress to the next level.
Coaching people to succeed in their current role – training options
Charlie Warshawaski ‘in action’ during training
ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching & Mentoring: When you do in-person coach training, you have to practise your coaching skills on the other trainees. This means you get to see others ‘in action’. And I met one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen on a training day. When I asked her about her training, she shared that she’d completed an ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) qualification in Executive Coaching and Mentoring. So I decided that it would be my next course!
After doing some research into the different providers who offer this course, I signed up with Love Your Coaching, which is owned and run by Charlie Warshawski. The training takes place in Surrey, and I can’t recommend this course highly enough. It’s given me much more confidence in my coaching abilities, and I genuinely believe Charlie is the best trainer I’ve ever been taught by.
CCS Balance Coaching Licensing Training Programme: If you already have an advanced level coaching qualification and don’t want to embark upon another one, a course I would recommend (that I have personally undertaken) is the Balance coaching licensing training programme with CCS. It’s a short, one-day course that introduces you to a range of coaching tools focused on career management for people who are in a role.
I use several of the coaching tools from this training on a regular basis with my own clients.
Other training courses
I’d always encourage you to check that the course you are completing is accredited or approved by a professional coaching body. The three most famous coaching bodies operating in the UK are:
- the Association for Coaching,
- the International Coach Federation,
- and the EMCC (the European Mentoring and Coaching Council).
While I haven’t personally completed these courses, here are some of the qualifications I’ve come across:
- The highest level of study is typically a Masters Degree. If you really wanted to go all-in, you could opt for a Ph.D., but this would involve a phenomenal commitment, and I’ve never met anyone who has a Ph.D. purely in career coaching. If you are interested in completing a Masters degree in coaching I’ve heard positive things about the Master’s Degree offered by Birkbeck, University of London.
- Some coaching courses offer a ‘Level 5’ or ‘Level 7’ qualification. Level 5 tends to be a foundational qualification, while Level 7 is an advanced level qualification (the equivalent to a post-graduate qualification). Although I completed an ILM Level 7 qualification, there is the option of completing a Level 5 one as well.
- I’ve also had excellent feedback about Barefoot Coaching’s courses and Henley Business School’s coaching programmes. These aren’t specialist career coaching programmes but they will teach you useful coaching skills that you can then put to use as a career coach.
At a careers event with my friends (who are also career coaches), Sarah Archer and Karen Munro
Useful groups and events
Once you are a career coach, there are a multitude of ways of keeping your learning and skills up to date without having to commit to signing up for lengthy courses. Attending coaching groups and learning events are two of my favourite ways of doing this.
The coaching bodies (Association for Coaching, ICF, and EMCC) all run their own groups and learning events that include webinars, lectures, and masterclasses. I’ve attended some excellent ones run by the Association for Coaching in London. They weren’t expensive, and I learnt a huge amount from them.
Other professional bodies that run relevant events include:
- The CIPD (the professional body for HR professionals). In addition to their ‘big’ events that they run each year, the CIPD has local branches that run their own events. These are often fairly small and friendly and can be a great source of learning and networking. You can find your local branch and sign up to receive information about their events here.
- The CMI (the Chartered Management Institute).
- The CDI (the Career Development Institute).
You don’t have to be a member with any of these professional bodies to attend their events, although they’re often free to attend if you’re a member (or are low cost if you aren’t).
If you complete your training with CCS, you’re also eligible to attend their alumni events, which are excellent. They also allow a small percentage of non-CCS trained coaches, so it’s always worth asking to be added to their mailing list if you’re interested in attending.
Another event I’ve found useful is the National Career Guidance Show, which is completely free and is arranged by Prospects. It has some good talks, and I found some useful materials to share with my career change coaching clients.
If you can’t find a group or event that feels right for you, why not set up your own informal group to share your experiences with others?
Help becoming a successful career coach
I hope you found this useful, but if you have any further questions, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re thinking of becoming a career coach and would like my support, I also offer paid mentoring and coaching support for new coaches, focusing specifically on the practicalities of working as a coach. For example, I can give advice on how to find clients, set your prices, what additional training, etc. If you’re interested in having some mentoring, please do book in a time for an initial free-of-charge call.